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Box artwork for 1942.
Release date(s)
System(s)Arcade, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64/128, Game Boy Color, MSX, MSX2, NES, Sinclair ZX Spectrum
Followed by1943: The Battle of Midway
Twitch1942 Channel
YouTube Gaming1942 Channel
1942 marquee

1942 is considered one of the defining games of the vertically scrolling shooter genre. Among Capcom's earliest games, 1942 was one of the most successful. The subject of the game isn't hard to figure out. You play an American pilot pitted against the whole of the Japanese Air Force during World War II in the titular year. Following the format established in Xevious, enemies come out in periodic waves, taking shots at your plane before turning around and attempting to escape with their lives. Larger aircraft that require more shots appear less frequently and add to the challenge by blocking shots fired at craft higher up the screen. Besides shooting, the player can also perform a 'loop-the-loop' to avoid enemy fire. 1942 incorporates a few power-ups that help increase your plane's firepower, while occasionally increasing your exposure.

1942 was picked up for distribution on several popular European home computers by Elite Systems, and relicensed for distribution by Encore. ASCII Corporation brought 1942 to home computers in Japan by porting the game to the MSX1 computer system, and later releasing a graphically updated version for the more capable MSX2 computer. Capcom personnel ported the game to the Famicom/NES system which sold very successfully. While 1942 was not the first Capcom game to receive a sequel, but it was their first game to spawn a series, including the more successful follow-up, 1943. 1942 has also been subsequently released on several Capcom compilation titles for many later-gen systems.


1942 is set in the Asian theater of World War II. The goal is to reach Tokyo and destroy the entire Japanese air fleet. The player (the American 'Super Ace') pilots a plane, and must survive wave after wave of Japanese air fleets, shooting down as many enemy planes as possible.

Table of Contents

Gameplay summary[edit]

Title screen
  • The player controls a Lockheed P-38 Lightning, dubbed the "Super Ace".
  • The Super Ace can fly throughout most of the visible screen, constantly scrolling vertically upwards.
  • The Super Ace can fire a gun with unlimited ammo up towards the top of the screen, and has a limited supply of loop maneuvers that allows him to completely avoid enemy bullets.
  • The Super Ace will lose one life if it is ever hit with an enemy bullet, or it collides with an enemy plane.
  • When a series of red planes appear, a power-up icon will appear if all of the planes are successfully destroyed.
  • Larger planes will appear from time to time which take more shots to shoot down.
  • A stage boss will appear at the end of four different stages which takes substantially more shots to destroy.