Last week Capcom announced a handful of new mobile ports of their classic arcade franchises, and today one of those has gone live. 1942 Mobile ($1.99) is a touchscreen-centric port of the 1984 arcade shoot ’em up which many consider the godfather of vertical scrolling shooters. Following Capcom’s fairly disastrous ports of the 8-bit Mega Man games, it’s understandable one might be wary of the quality of 1942 Mobile. Well, I’m happy to report that it’s… actually pretty good? The game runs smoothly and seems authentic to the arcade original, and the simple fact that it’s a shooter that can be controlled with one thumb as opposed to Mega Man which requires plenty of precision button inputs makes 1942 a game that would be hard to screw up on the touchscreen. Hard, but not impossible.
There is, however, a pretty baffling feature in 1942 Mobile. Capcom for some reason has chosen to have a Google login required in order to partake in leaderboards and achievements. I mean, most people have a Google account I’d presume, but still, I’d kind of like to compare my scores to my many friends on Game Center, you know? At least as an option? Aside from that there’s plenty of good stuff about this port. It uses relative touch by default and given the aspect ratio of the game the entire bottom 25% of the screen is used for controls, so you’re not obscuring anything with your thumb.
There’s also both Classic and Casual modes, and if you thought this original game was hard then Casual mode is your savior. It has an option to turn on automatic summersaults, which means if you’re about to get hit by an enemy bullet or plane your ship will automatically loop-de-loop out of danger for you. Also you seem to get unlimited summersaults in Casual, and you have to actively TRY to die in this mode, which is easier said than done. Both modes also offer an option for how fast your ship moves. Turn it down to 1 and it’s like moving through molasses. Crank it up to the max of 19 and your ship zips so fast you can actually span the entirety of the screen by simply rolling your thumb tip just a little. I can’t imagine anyone wanting either of those extremes, and the default speed of 14 feels right on the money anyway, but it’s nice that the option is there.
There are a few other options included, but overall this is a pretty straightforward port of 1942. And for the current price of a dollar, that’s a pretty good deal in my opinion. If you grew up loving 1942 then this is a very playable port that you can carry around at all times. If you are super into comparing scores or earning achievements through Game Center, then the Google-only option for those features might be enough to turn you off. At any rate, this is a much better showing than the Mega Man ports, which admittedly is a very low bar, but as I alluded to before 1942 is also inherently well-suited to touchscreen. It remains to be seen how the planned mobile ports of Ghouls ‘N Ghosts and Ghosts ‘N Goblins go, with their multiple buttons and notoriously brutal difficulty. Hopefully we’ll find out soon enough about those, but for now, if you’re itching for some classic shoot ’em up gameplay in your pocket, 1942 Mobile is a pretty solid choice.