Take down the entire Japanese airforce with just one thumb...
I have fond memories of 1942 on both the NES and in arcades, but either those memories are betraying me, or this mobile port has sucked the fun right out of game. Ok, maybe that's a little unfair. 1942 isn't horrible. I didn't have to force myself to play it. But there are certainly better top-down mobile shooters available, as well as better Capcom mobile titles.
1942 is unique for featuring a WWII theme, instead of taking place in the distant future like essentially every other top-down shooter. Instead of aliens you're tasked with taking on "the entire Japanese air force." In the Japanese release is it the American air force being shot down, I wonder?
As with most shooters of the era, you're given one lone fire button to take on these impossible odds. Luckily once or twice a level a small group of red fighters appear (all other enemies in the game are green), and dispatching them before they exit upgrades your firing capabilities, a maximum of two times. Additionally, pressing 0 allows you to execute a loop, allowing you to dodge enemy fire when in a tight spot.
I had a couple big problems with 1942. The first is that the game runs really, really slow. Actually that's not entirely accurate. When you first begin a play session the game is fine, and runs more like I remember 1942 playing. But the longer you play, the slower it gets. The slowdown is so subtle that I don't see it happen. I just realize that 5 levels in bullets are moving so slowly I can weave in and out of large groups of them no problem. I can't even begin to speculate what the problem might be, and really, that isn't my place. All I know is that high-end titles like Capcom's Resident Evil were handled by the same handset just fine.
My other issue with 1942 is that autofire can't be turned off. Normally this wouldn't be a problem - autofire in mobile 2D shooters is generally a must. 1942, however, suffers from the limited-bullet syndrome found in many games of the era. You can only have three bullets on-screen at once. With autofire on this means your ship fires in three short bursts, outside of your control. There is a "fire" button to allow you to fire when you really need it, but if three bullets are on-screen at that moment (and there usually is), it obviously doesn't work.
1942 isn't devoid of enjoyment, and Capcom gets a lot of credit for allowing the experience to be saved and resumed later - a feature all retro ports should have. Still, even without the slowdown it would be a tough game to recommend very highly. The experience just didn't age as well as most other retro shooters.
What's Hot: You can save your game. Retro porters, pay attention.
What's Not: Gameplay is soooo sloooow