Thursday, 9 March 2017

Playing a genre legend

Surprising to say, I haven't played a whole lot of air combat games, so remembering those on my short list will be relatively easy.

1942 is one of games that has become a fixture of sorts, especially the upright, coin operated version. Even today, there are many of these machines still in operation and accepting money from customers, giving them in return some intense gameplay action, somewhere in the world. Populating those forgotten arcades from days gone by, to that rare sight in the corner of an airport lobby, very few titles have enjoyed such a long lifespan, in a very international market.

The gameplay was simple enough, by moving forward, backward and side to side, destroy all (or as many as you can) incoming enemies from a top-down perspective. As a player progressed, the attacking enemies grew in number and increased in speed. Throw in a couple of "Bosses,' large aircraft that seemed to take forever to shot down and you had a recipe for a pretty good experience.

Although I was first introduced to the game in an arcade, it's the disappointing and tiring memory of playing it on the original Nintendo Entertainment System that stands out the most for me. When I was a lot younger, a school friend had rented the title (yeah, you could do that, way back when) from a video store, invited me for a sleepover, with the plan to take turns and beat the game. I couldn't tell you when, exactly, we started playing, but I can remember seeing 4:30 in the AM as being the finishing time. All those hours crammed into one day for such an anticlimactic ending, the game just rolled over and started again, with our combined high score still collecting points.

Although I would still play it on the occasion I visited the hometown arcade, I slowly drifted away from it and tried out other titles. The game itself broke down one day and sat with the perpetual "Out of Order," sign taped to it's screen, before vanishing from the floor altogether.

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