The Many Incarnations of 1942

This article is part of a series I call “The Many Incarnations of… ”, a column which will chronicle the different game titles that have been released over the years featuring a central character or theme. Pac-Man is here to provide “color commentary,” and Professor Pac-Man is on hand with interesting tidbits of trivia about each game!

1984
1942


Story Behind The Game: Jonathan Striker is an ace fighter pilot currently serving on a carrier in the South Pacific Ocean. The aircraft carrier he is serving on is on its way to Japan by way of the Pacific Islands. Everything seems quiet. Suddenly, a strange Tsunami wave crashes upon the carrier, rendering all the planes useless, except his. Striker thinks it's the ancient art of Tsunami Summoning that he heard about from his father. He has been wanting to discover the art and use it for himself. This may be the chance he's been waiting for. But, right now Striker's first and foremost duty is to take down the entire Japanese Air Force. Single-handedly.

Hey Prof, what do you know about the planes featured in each of these games? I know one thing - they picked the right name for their Super Ace pilot. I have always thought the name Jonathan was underused, yet distinguished-sounding. Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: Well Pac-Man, the plane featured in 1942 is the Lockheed P-38 Lightning (or at least it's based on it). The actual Lightning was a complete break-away from conventional airframe design, power, and armament. Not only did it have twice the power and almost twice the size of its predecessors, it was also equipped with no less than four .50 cal. machine guns plus a 20 mm cannon. The P-38 had enough firepower to sink a ship--and sometimes did. Concentrated in the central fuselage pod, the guns fired parallel which eliminated a need for a propeller synchronizer. 

1987
1943 - The Battle of Midway

Story Behind The Game: Jonathan Striker was heralded as a hero last year. His courage and unmatched skills in the air gave the Allies a tremendous victory. After the battle, Jonathan searched for someone to teach him the ancient art of Tsunami Summoning. He found Master Kasanagi and spent two months with the Master. Striker spent his free hours on the carrier perfecting the art so he could use it in the midst of battle. On one sunny afternoon while he was practicing, Striker's carrier was attacked by a squadron of Zeros. All the planes were destroyed except Striker's and the carrier was severely damaged in the attack. Man, what luck, he thought. He took on the entire Japanese Air Force last year and has to do the same thing this year.

Man, that P-38 must have been one pac of a plane to be the only survivor of TWO separate attacks! Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: This game was released in Japan as "1943 Kai - Midway Kaisen" which translates to "1943 Modified - Midway Naval Battle". The title featured increased difficulty and new graphics. 

1990
1941 - Counter Attack

Story Behind The Game: Before Jonathan Striker became a hero fighting Japanese Zeros, he took part in a mission to restore the integrity of history. A European from far in the future traveled back in time to 1941 to try and alter the balance of power early on in the war. He brought back laser technology with him and supplied it to the Axis forces of his ancestry. Jonathan Striker, a fresh pilot with an exemplary academy record, was ordered to find the men from the future and eliminate them. No one outside a small circle of military leaders was to know about this mission. Knowledge of the advanced weaponry to the world could have spread even greater fear and chaos of the citizens of the warring nations. Thanks to their network of spies, the U.S. obtained the laser technology themselves, so Striker was able to bring a fair fight. Striker needed to defeat this Axis faction before they altered history. Since many buildings were destroyed in Striker’s attack, the mission was recorded as a series of successful bombing runs throughout a few Axis occupied cities.

Well. . . It's a good thing someone cleared that up. I was beginning to think they forgot what year came after 1943. Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: This game featured both the Lockheed P-38 Lightning and the de Havilland Mosquito B Mark IV. The Mosquito was conceived as a bomber, but became one of the war's most potent fighters. It excelled in a wide variety of roles. Its duties included low-level and high-attack day and night bomber, long-range photo-reconnaissance, mine layer, pathfinder, high-speed military transport, long-range day and night fighter, and fighter-bomber. 

1995
19XX - The War Against Destiny

Story Behind The Game: In 1941, Jonathan Striker defeated a force with technologically advanced weapons from the future. He thought he killed the time traveler responsible, but he was wrong. The time traveler transported back to the future just before his Gotha jet was destroyed. Back in the future this madman made new plans to alter the destiny of his people. Jonathan Striker thought he’d be able to take a little time off to visit his parents back in the States after his impressive victory in the Battle of Midway. He was wrong again. That time bandit came back and brought even more powerful technology with him this time. He has influenced commanders of the European Axis powers to join him in his war against the history books. He wants to end the war early by dropping nukes on the Allied powers. This is a top secret mission that only ace fighter pilot Jonathan Striker can handle. The Allied forces that obtained the technology last time have been secretly studied it and have developed slightly more powerful weapons for Striker to use in his newest battle. Since he has neglected practicing his Tsunami Summoning, the new weapons will prove to be a great help. This will be Striker’s toughest battle yet, as the enemy forces are spread all throughout Europe. He must destroy their factories and prevent the launch of the nukes that could change the world’s destiny. While en route to the drop point Striker's transport plane is attacked. He barely escapes before the transport becomes a fiery ball speeding towards the sea... 

Okay, now I am convinced that someone is just a little daft at Capcom. I mean 19XX, who do you you think you're fooling? It's obvious you just can't count. It's not that hard – really - it should be 1944. Wocka! Wocka! 

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: In addition to the P-38and Mosquito this game featured the Kyūshū J7W1 Shinden. The only "tail-first" piston-driven aircraft ever slated for mass-production, the radical canard-style Shinden J7W1 "Magnificent Lightning" was conceived in 1943 and first test-flown in August 1945. The plane had the potential to be a formidable interceptor, but only three prototypes were built before the war came to its abrupt conclusion. 

2000
1944 - The Loop Master

Story Behind The Game: With his incredible flying skills, ace pilot Jonathan Striker had become known to as the Loop Master. He has perfected the loop attack, but in expense of another skill he used to hone, the Tsunami Summon. Perhaps someday he will get to practice it again, but it will have to wait. Striker has his toughest mission ahead of him. Soldiers on the Allied and Axis sides of the war have been displeased with their respective countries' results during the war. Through coded transmissions, traitors on both sides of the war have formed an alliance and now fight their former Axis and Allied comrades. One of the Axis commanders is a survivor from Striker’s XX secret mission. He has brought with him the laser technology that his descendant originally brought from the future. Lasers have been added to many of the larger planes and vehicles. Once again Jonathan Striker must fight against technology from the future. Fortunately, a spy in this deadly alliance has given Striker and his new wingman lasers of their own. This new force has unleashed surprise attacks on each of their countries, hoping to turn the tide of war in their direction. Because of this treachery, Striker has joined forces with an ace Japanese Zero pilot named Ryu Tsunaka. Striker and Tsunaka must set aside their feelings for their former countrymen and each other. The two must find the mobile base of this new threat and end this conflict before the war gets any worse.

Hey they got it right this time! Or. . . maybe that time traveler just traveled ahead in time, read this column and then traveled back in time to become a hero and the future president of Capcom. Wocka! Wocka!

From the desk of Professor Pac-Man: In this game the P-38 returns and brings with it the Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero Model 21. A triumph of aerodynamic engineering and military science, the Japanese Zero Model 21 served in the skies across East Asia during early stages of World War II, contributing immensely to the Japanese war effort. It remains today an enduring symbol of that fierce and globe-spanning conflict. 

Beyond the Arcades

1995 – Strikers 1945
1997 – Strikers 1945 II
1999 – Strikers 1945 Plus
1999 – Strikers 1945 III 

Hey, those Axis forces are a real pain in the chomp – A bit much for one ace alone. I know I'm ready to give ol' Jonathan a hand, or better yet, a mouth! Wocka! Wocka!

* This article is only a listing of known unique game titles. It does not cover clones of released titles, nor will it list the various platforms the titles have appeared on. It is not meant to be an all-inclusive reference listing, and should be viewed only as the recreational offering it was intended to be. Game descriptions, game titles and registered trademarks mentioned herein are properties of their respective owners.

First Published March 2008