Preview - Capcom brings another classic coin-up to the GameBoy

Japanese company Capcom has been around for some twenty years now, with a legacy of great arcade and console games as well as more recent favourites like Resident Evil and Onimusha. Never afraid to milk a franchise (witness the never-ending Street Fighter series), Capcom are now releasing some of these coin-op classics of yesteryear on the GameBoy Color.

Old School

Due out in the UK some time next month, 1942 is a faithful conversion of the vertically scrolling shooter which proved to be a big hit in the arcades and on the NES back in the mid 1980s, spawning three sequels and various spin-offs and imitations.

Many of our older readers will no doubt remember feeding their pennies into this one back in the day, but for those of you too young to remember what all the fuss was about, 1942 pits you as an American fighter pilot during World War II, battling it out with the Japanese air force over the Pacific Ocean in your twin-engine P38 Lightning. Your ultimate goal is to reach Tokyo, but along the way there are hordes of Japanese fighters to take down and slow-moving bombers to blow up to earn yourself bonus points.

Despite the historical setting, the game is very much an arcade shooter at heart. The action is fast and furious, and a range of power-ups is available to boost your kill rate, including the traditional smart bombs and multi-shot weapons as well as escort fighters, which stick so close to your wings that they effectively just make your plane wider and give you a couple of extra guns to fire.

Bigger, Better, Twice As Hard

1942 was already fairly lengthy, with 32 stages to fight your way through on the way to the Japanese mainland, but as well as recreating the original game in its entirety the GameBoy version promises to add several new bonus levels to "challenge even the most expert pilots".

And for those of us who found the original a little tricky in places, developers Digital Eclipse have also included three difficulty settings to choose from. These will vary the speeds of the planes you encounter to make things easier or harder, depending on how confident you feel. There will also be a password save-game system included so that you don't have to battle your way to Tokyo in a single sitting. Given how long that can take, this is undoubtedly a good thing.

Graphically the game certainly looks the part, with the planes, weapon effects and backdrops all similar enough to the artwork of the arcade original to keep fans happy. Whether the gameplay and cheesy bleeping music will be up to spec as well remains to be seen, but hopefully we should know within the next few weeks. Our only slight qualm at this stage is that the game is expected to cost around £25, which seems a little much for a sixteen year old coin-up conversion which has been widely emulated on the PC in recent years. Still, it's a classic game and should prove popular with veteran gamers and their children alike.

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