April 28, 2017

1943 and Gradius: Some Thoughts

So I just recently finished completing the 1943 (1987, NES). It's a SHMUP game from the early years of consoles, and it shows. As with virtually every early game, developers needed to optimize their resources to squeeze as much replayability of a small cartridge. Though in terms of what Capcom believes, replayability is to (unintentionally?) make the game more difficult. This is mostly done via having the enemy ships fly faster, to where you can likely crash into an enemy ship and take damage. Speaking of damage, the imposed 'timer' (which I guess is an attempt to replicate a plane running out of fuel) is also attached to how many times you get hit, and the amount of 'special moves' your plane can perform. Unless you're either a 'SHMUP Master' or have enemy paths so memorized and ingrained into your subconciouss, the sane being should stick to save states.
Even beyond the NES difficulty, the game hasn't aged the greatest in my opinion. There's been better-looking NES games, but it's still a noticable improvement over the predecessor 1942. The music is nice, but there's a point where you get tired of the same 4-5 songs cycling through the games ~30 levels. Depending on your skill, the amount of said songs can be cut down to just about 2: one for the start of the game, and the other when you're near death or running out of fuel.

Eh, could've done worse things with my time.

Funny thing about these early SHMUPS, is how similar they are when you look at them in the right angle. Konami's Gradius I (1986, NES) also slides in, it being the ur-example of sidescrolling shooter games. It's great old fun, until the unfortunately accurate hitbox of the ship sends you into a game over. But hey, it's still beatable with save states!

It's pretty breezy when you play it this way.

To be honest, the majority of my gripes with Gradius also fit fine enough with the complaints I had over 1943. Everything is recycled at least one, excluding the bosses (minibosses?) of each level. Not to be confused with the other boss type where you fight against a cold monolith and shoot it down after each level end and before a level's start. The 3 songs cycle through each level, and it gets repetitive fast (though thankfully there aren't as much levels as there are in 1943). But at this point, I'm dangerously close to the precipice of sleep deprivation, so I'll close off this post with an ending statement:
I'll probably stick to later SHMUPS, the earlier ones haven't aged too well.

 Thank you for reading.

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