Designer: Yoshiki Okamoto
Composer: Kumi Yamaga
Release Date: 1988
One year later, and not much has changed. You’re still on your own, flying missions to try to win the war in the Pacific. It’s 1943: The Battle of Midway!
The title screen greets you with the grim reminder of what year it is, and the option to start a new game or enter a password. At least I don’t have to feel bad about not playing two players!
Next we get to spend 3 points to upgrade our P-38 fighter. You can up your offensive and defensive capabilities, your energy level (which I haven’t the foggiest about), and your special weapon capability and time limit. There is a counter in the lower left of the screen that shows how much time you have left with your special weapon, which you obtain by downing certain planes as in 1942. Then there’s what I think is the energy counter in the lower right, but you don’t explode when it gets to zero as far as I could tell; it just seems to randomly reset. I’m sure I’m missing something there. Anyways, you can find random “points” in the level that instantly throw you to the power up screen and let you build up your plane mid-mission, which is a bit jarring.
As for the actual gameplay, if you like 1942, get ready for more of the same with 1943. Each level kicks off with leaving your aircraft carrier and immediately facing a squadron of enemy fighters. A new twist however has you facing a boss at the end of each level, but the lack of a continue from the same spot as in 1942 is sorely missing. I was more frustrated at having to begin each level all over again in 1943 even though I probably died one third as much in the same amount of game time as its predecessor.
Graphically 1943 is a slight step up from its big brother, and having some actual music was a welcome addition. I will say that it did drop frame rates a few times when there were fighters and ships spraying bullets all over the place, but it wasn’t excessive to the point of unplayable.
Overall, 1943: The Battle of Midway is more of the same we got from 1942. If you liked that game, you’ll probably enjoy this one as well. The RPG aspect of souping up your fighter was a cool idea, but the lack of an on-the-spot continue and yes, two-player option, was a bummer. I think 1943 is a slightly better game, even though I had more fun with 1942.
Check out my playthrough on twitch!