Retro Saga Part 20: the 19XX Series.

Okay, everyone guess what these games have in common. Gradius, U.N. Squadron, Axelay, R-Type, and Raiden. No, the correct answer isn’t that they are all great games (even though they are great games). The correct answer is they are all 2D shooters. They also have you flying a plane of some sort, and shooting everything in sight. Now, most of these games were either made or published by Konami (besides R-Type and Raiden). I think Capcom wanted to cash in on these kinds of games and released a few of their own, which includes Legendary Wings. To be honest though, I’m not the biggest fan of the arcade version of Legendary Wings, but I am a big fan of their other 2D shooter franchise known as the 19XX series. There are about 5 games in the series (6 if you count the Xbox Live arcade game, 1942: Joint Strike)

The main story of the games is basically you’re some faceless hero piloting a WWII bomber and blowing up tiny planes, and then blowing up bigger planes and then going to the next level. Yeah, there isn’t much story, but when you’re playing a 2D shooter, you don’t really give a hoot about what the story is. All you want to know is if the game play is awesome.

The game play in the 19XX series of games is pretty much the same in all the games, a top down 2D shooter, like Raiden. You basically control a bomber-like plane as you go through multiple levels, shooting down planes, and getting power-ups to shoot down more planes faster, and then fight a boss at the end of the level. The power-ups mainly include stuff like shooting lightning. Yeah, you won’t get amazingly super crazy power-ups like in Raiden or R-Type, but they get the job done. You do get different stuff like multiple missiles, little helper planes, and lasers. Each game is pretty different in their own ways, but I like them all.

The graphics are pretty much a mixed bag. It depends on which one you like more. I like them all, but I know some people like 1943 the best, and some people like the later ones like 19XX or 1941. I know some people don’t like 1942, but I will explain that in a second. A cool thing that I enjoy about this series is that after you get shot once, you don’t die like you would in Gradius or other games. Instead, you got a couple of more hits, but the game will tell you when you’re running low on health. I also like how you can regain health if you’ve lost some. It means that this game is more open to casual gamers, but more hardcore people can keep playing it. I also like how the power-up system works. I know on one of the games you have to shoot down orange planes to get the power-ups, but I don’t know if it’s in the others. I do know that it’s a fun series.

This fun series does have a few faults. Sometimes, all the games get just a little boring. I say this because the game moves at a snail’s pace, from time to time. Your plane moves so slowly and it’s not that you can get hit easily, it’s just that the screen moves so slowly. It also makes it seem like the games take forever, even if some are only like 6 levels long. I don’t know, but this was just me, but I just found the color pallet to be somewhat bland in some of the games. It just seems like with all the great graphics Capcom puts into their arcade games, they would put some amazing detail on this series.

Overall though, this series might not have aged well in some areas, but it’s still a fun series. You can get most of the games in the Capcom Classics Collection discs, but if you can find them on the NES, then I wouldn’t waste a moment to pick them up. Like I said, it all depends on which one tickles your fancy. So yeah, go check out this series.

This game series gets an 8 out of 10