1941: Counter Attack Review

Air combat games are typically hit or miss, but 1941 falls somewhere in the middle. It’s not horrible, but it’s not exactly groundbreaking either.

1941 is your basic mindless shoot-’em-up. As the pilot of a World War II biplane, it’s your job to shoot down Axis planes and sink Axis ships. All of this is done with two buttons and a joystick. There are no messy flight simulator controls to deal with, so the gamer’s mind is completely focused on blowing stuff up.

1941 is merely one clone in a sea of air combat games where the gamer has only to aim and shoot to achieve success. There is little plot to speak of and little challenge, assuming that the gamer has a very fast trigger finger. Finger fatigue may be the only reason people actually stop playing this game. It’s pretty hard to lose, especially if you play enough to recognize enemy flight patterns.

For the time in which 1941 was developed, the graphics and sound could have been a bit sharper. Prior games like After Burner were better to look at and more fun to play.

Overall, 1941 is an average game with little to propel it into the ranks of great video games. In the time between Pong and 1941, developers should have realized that gamers crave a good story and not merely senseless violence. You could argue that hand-to-hand combat games are mindless, but at least they involve some skill when pulling off joystick and button combos. 1941 does not even rise to that level. It’s completely devoid of strategy and has a very mundane premise: Shoot things and do not get shot.

Graphics

Mediocre at best.

Sound

Could have been better.

Enjoyment

Not bad, but not great.

Replay Value

Slightly higher mark here if you plan on learning enemy flight patterns.

Road Rash Synopsis

A forerunner of such violent games as the Grand Theft Auto series, Road Rash is a rousingly good combat racing motorcycle game that encourages players to punch, kick, and club their opponents off the twisting, turning tracks. Paced admirably by a hard driving soundtrack, the game strikes a nice balance between hitting and racing, and the controls are smooth and easy to use. Players can win money for bike upgrades by winning (or simply placing in) races on five different courses: Sierra Nevada, Pacific Coast, Redwood Forest, Palm Desert, and Grass Valley. The frame rate could use a boost to make the scrolling a bit smoother, but the players and bikes look good, there’s ample roadside and background detail (including cows, trees, mountains, and slippery sand), and the game itself remains a pleasure long after the newness has worn off.

Tron Review (1982)

One of the best multi-genre titles ever created, Tron is based on the 1982 Walt Disney film. The action is divided into four screens: Light Cycles, a Surround-influenced motorcycle contest in which players try to cut off or box in up to three enemy cyclists; MCP Cone: a Breakout-influenced game in which Tron must shoot his way through a rotating forcefield made of blocks; I.O. Tower: a Berzerk-influenced bug-shooter in which Tron has to clear a path of Grid Bugs to the transporter of the I.O. Tower in the center of the screen; and Tank Maze, a Combat-influenced game in which players must navigate a tank around a maze and battle up to five enemy tanks. Colorful graphics, futuristic sounds, tight gameplay, smooth rotary control for aiming, flawless eight-way joystick for maneuvering, and four distinctive, thoroughly enjoyable segments makes Tron a bona fide classic. A certain lack of originality keeps the game from garnering a perfect score.

Xevious – Apple II and Arcade Overview (1984)

Engage enemies in the sky and on the ground in Namco’s vertical-scrolling shooter, Xevious. Your goal is to pilot a fighter ship named Solvalou to save Earth from an alien threat in control of 16 repeating areas. The eight-way joystick is used to guide your vessel and alter its speed, while individual “blaster” and “zapper” buttons are used to fire your ship’s lasers and drop bombs, respectively. The action takes place from an overhead view of the planet as you travel across forests, streams, and more. Ground units such as tanks and buildings can be taken out by first positioning a crosshair target over the object and then pressing the zapper button. Avoid being hit by one of 14 sky-based and 12 land-based enemy types to survive.

Also Available On
Platform Publisher Developer Year
Arcade Atari, Inc. Namco Ltd. 1982
Atari 7800 Atari Corporation Atari Corporation 1987
Commodore 64/128 1987
Game Boy Advance Nintendo of America, Inc. Namco Ltd. 2004
Mobile Namco Ltd. 2005
Nintendo 3DS Nintendo of America, Inc. Namco Ltd. 2011
Nintendo Entertainment System Bandai America, Inc. Namco Ltd. 1988
Wii Namco Bandai Games America, Inc. Namco Ltd. 2007
Wii U Namco Bandai Games America, Inc. Namco Ltd. 2013
Xbox 360 Namco Bandai Games America, Inc. Bandai Namco Games, Inc. 2007

Marble Madness (Arcade 1984) Review

Marble Madness is a highly original game in which players use a trackball to maneuver a marble through a series of sloping, maze-like courses, trying to reach the end of each course within a given time limit. While steering the marble along narrow pathways, twisting turns and steep ramps, players must be careful of hazardous drops, acid pools, dangerous enemies (such as Marble Munchers) and other obstacles. Exceptional performances “charm” players with extra time. Control can be frustrating at times (especially for beginners), but crisp graphics, stereo sound, “silly” levels (in which most of the rules are reversed), a competitive two-player mode, and maddeningly challenging gameplay make Marble Madness a bona fide classic.