1942, Grobda and Dragon Buster

1942 (1984)

Capcom’s 1942 was their breakthrough game, spawning a series of five other games. The game is set during World War II over Asia. The player controls a plane that must aim to reach Tokyo to beat the Japanese fleet. The vertical-scrolling game allows the player to control the plane by moving across the screen to avoid enemies, and also being able to vertically loop down. The enemy fleet attack in Kawasaki Ki-61s, Mitsubishi A6M Zeros and Kawasaki Ki-48 planes, and the boss plane is a Nakajima 68N. The popularity of the simplistic game is shown as it was number 1 on Euromax’s UK Arcade Chart in 1987.

Grobda (1984)

Namco’s Grobda was another spin-off game released in 1984. The player would control a tank called Grobda, who is seen as an enemy in Xevious. The set-up of the game was that of an arena in which the tank was placed. Each of these were called ‘Battlings’ and there were a total of 99 in the gameplay.

Within each Battling there would be enemy tank enclosed in the arena. The game was a multi-directional shooter, and when the player was to hit an enemy tank it would explode. The blast from this could also reach other enemy tanks and be used to destroy them as well. The player was also given a shield to deflect enemy fire. However, this shield was notoriously weak and would only last as a temporary solution.

Dragon Buster (1984)

Namco’s Dragon Buster was known for being the earliest known game to feature a double-jump mechanic, and was one of the first games to include a visual health bar. The game was such a success in Japan that it was ported to the Famicom.

The gameplay followed a plot which told the story of Prince Clovis. Clovis was the son of the Kingdom’s chief bodyguard but due to his mischievous behaviour was sent to live with a Monk. Whilst living with the monk, Clovis was taught how to become a superior warrior and swordsman. Which became his calling when the Princess Celia was taken by a dragon.

The player was to guide Clovis to rescue Celia. Though, levels of difficulty were added to the game through various environments and characters. An example of this was the fact that there were multiple castles and many different dragons and Celia’s within them. Therefore, the player was expected to battle these to pursue through the game to get to the final castle wherein the real Celia and Dragon would lie.

The gameplay consisted of the player choosing between various paths to take to reach a castle, furthermore, these increased in difficulty as the game moved on. The aforementioned paths took the player to individual levels which all proceeded to have their own individual boss characters. The player was expected to defeat the boss from each level to reach the castle which would lead them to the dragon and to the princess.

There were five types of levels that were incorporated in the game. These included cave, tower, boneyard, mountain and ruins levels. Each of the levels contained a higher amount of a certain boss character; an example of this would be that the boneyard level had a higher level of the Skeleton Boss.

Enemies within the game came in four boss types. Which included Skeleton, Bishop, Wizard and Fafril (Brontosaurus). Each enemy had their own personal attacks, so the Fafril would breathe fire at Clovis. By far the most dangerous enemy to face within the game was the Dragon, who was guarding the princess. Each dragon has a specific weak point that the player would have had to identify quickly to defeat the dragon efficiently. Dragon Buster also had multiple other enemies that appeared throughout the gameplay. A special enemy would also appear if the player stood idle for a length of time, this enemy was called a Cave Shark and drained Clovis’ life/ vitality bar.

Items also appeared in the game, which either aided or hindered the player. One of the most common items was a fireball that would lower the health of all the enemies on the screen by a small amount. Items were dropped by bosses and could be stored to use later on in the gameplay. However, poisons and potions that are gained by the player must have be used when collected.

Clovis, as a character, had limited moves in terms of defeating enemies, majorly he was just able to swipe his sword and jump. Though, the player was also able to use magic collected from bosses. Furthermore, the famous double jump of the game could defeat a boss in one hit.