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Released twenty-four years after the classic shoot-em-up 1942, this re-imagining of the WWII top-scrolling shooter features widescreen display and cooperative play. The subtitle, “Joint Strike” refers to a dual-player super attack, which devastates enemies between two friendly ships. Though not an exact remake in terms of level design and game play, the game’s atmosphere and control style hark back to arcade roots.
Players take control of one of three planes and manoeuvre through five, vertically scrolling levels populated by thousands of enemy planes, tanks and sea vessels. Power-ups allow three different, upgraded weapon configurations—spread shot, explosive shot, and laser beam. Tapping the attack button produces a tightly packed stream of fire; holding the same button down for several moments charges a powered shot. Missiles and "joint strikes," both of which gradually regenerate after usage, round out the weapon selection. When playing with another person, unleashing a joint strike destroys enemies in a swath between the two players. If playing alone, the same action instead detonates a screen-clearing bomb.
Like its predecessor, Joint Strike places its arcade style experience within a WWII, pacific-theatre setting. In addition to the original, American-made P-38 Lightning, the British de Havilland Mosquito and Japanese J7W1 Shinden are also flyable. The five available stages, though populated by outlandish enemies, resemble the beaches, mountains and seas of the Pacific. In a nod to its arcade heritage, Joint Strike only offers a single game mode that requires players to face the same five stages from start to finish and emphasizes score just as much as level progression.