No Red Barons Allowed
One or two ace pilots can jump into the cockpit of the Lightning, Mosquito, or Shinden, three planes with completely different looks but slight variations in their stats, and use an array of weaponry at their disposal to break through the enemy lines. This includes the new Joint Strike attacks which are available only in co-op mode and fill the screen with grandiose explosions depending on the distance one player is from the other. Whether it's bombs, lasers, shotgun spreads, machine gun fire, homing missiles, or Joint Strike attacks, blasts punctuate the affair, lighting up the screen and keeping the eyes busy while Norihiko Hibino's swelling score pumps through the speakers. Losing yourself on screen becomes a regular occurrence over the course of the game and adding in a second player completes the recipe for plenty of "Which plane am I?"
Don't worry about losing yourself on bosses, though. Not only are they huge and screen filling but they are tough. Losing a bundle of lives on the bosses isn't unheard of, since players will be forced to dodge bullets, missiles, and other monstrosities while trying to take down the gargantuan enemies. Unfortunately, if you've maxed out your particular weapon of choice, something you're going to want to do as soon as you're able, the bosses can quickly take that away from you. Even though you'll drop a weapon powerup on death, it won't upgrade you to second tier status, undoing all of the hard work you put in up to that point. Yet, once you've learned the bosses' patterns and feel comfortable with your handling on the controls, the bosses can be a manageable affair and even downright fun.
The package is robust enough to be taken online and there may even be a few players to jump in with for some plane, tank, and ship blasting action. Its seamless and it works well, though Backbone Entertainment ups the difficulty during cooperative mode with even more enemies on screen and even more bullets to dodge. Still, between the sepia toned menus and in-game cinematic videos (where you'll lose brief control of your plane but are treated to plenty of background action), dodging bullets in co-op mode is done with plenty of style.
Suffice it to say, 1942: Joint Strike is a fun diversion for those who aren't accustomed to the ins and outs of vertical shoot-em-ups and a great throwback for those who are. What it lacks in techno music, vector graphics, or shtick, it more than makes up for with a solid experience that can be enjoyed singly or cooperatively. And really, isn't that all we really want our of our games?