Yamato waits for destruction by marfig on October 14, 2008
"1943 - The Battle of Midway" was one of the most influential games in my long history of arcade gaming fun. If I had to classify it in lieu of my own experience as a gamer, 1943 - The Battle of Midway would be a classic and an instant one, at that.
From the moment I first set eyes on this cabinet, till I beat the game 4 months later, I couldn't play anything else at my local arcade house. The fast-paced action, the responsiveness of the controls, the well-drawn sprites and the overall game setting were responsible for one of my youth addictions. 1943 - The Battle of Midway was also the responsible for my since then love for vertical scrolling shooters.
As the name implies, the game is set against a WWII backdrop. The player mission is to find and destroy the mighty battleship Yamato of the Japanese forces. For this effect they control a P-38 through sixteen full of action stages. Each stage is crowned at the end by a boss. Bosses are either aircraft or ships. Each and one of them named after similar units in the real Midway Campaign during WWII. You'll meet the Yamashiro the mighty Japanese battleship, and the Aircraft Carrier Akagi, but also the Ayako bomber from the other 194x series. At then end, lies Yamato. Your toughest battle.
Similar to other games of the series, the famous loop remains in which the player loops the plane rendering him temporarily immune to enemies. However, the game introduces new secret weapons; lightning, cyclone, and tsunami.
The game plays like a charm. Scroll is fluid, the P-38 is responsive and its maneuvering speed is just perfect, not giving the player the frustrating feeling the plane is too slow, as in other vertical shooters. This in fact was always a characteristic of the 194x series. Enemies "walk" predictable paths but shoot unpredictably and tend to concentrate fire if the player makes the mistake of staying on the same spot for too long.
Giving its age, I personally believe this to be the first truly great vertical shooter both from a technical point of view and for its fun factor. In 1987 vertical shooters were not new (the series itself was in its 2nd installment). But never before this type of game had drawn me to spend my school lunch money and never before had I seen a cabinet so requested by so many different players on my local arcade house.