19xx: The War against Destiny

19xx cover
19xx cover

19xx: The War against Destiny

There have been tons of airplane and ship based vertical scrolling shooters but the 1942 series always had a special place in my heart. When I came across 19xx in the arcades during the fall of 1996 I could not stop plunking in quarters because simple put, the game was fast passed and fun with a ton of flashing lights and explosions, everything a growing boy needs.

Made by Capcom 19XX is the 4th game in the series of World War II shooters, however, “Destiny” takes place in a fictional time which is why there are X’s instead of numbers. One could assume by the type of weapons and armor used in the game that the “war” was based on future technology. What we do know is you play the lone pilot who has to defeat an entire army by yourself, no pressure.

Being the only person who can prevent a nuclear apocalypse may be a big task, good thing you have three, count em, three planes to choose from. Each plane has its own strengths and weakness:

The Lighting plane is your most balanced and the one I always played as, it has medium power and speed, but is strong for homing in on enemies. Its special weapon is the Vulcan which fires straightforward shots and when powered up fires a power three shot blast.

19xx screenshot
19xx screenshot

The Mosquito is slow and powerful which is strange since it’s called the mosquito. It is slow and has weak homing capabilities, but it is powerful. The mosquito’s special weapon is missiles that fire in three different directions, when powered up the forward firing missiles become much more powerful.

The Sinden is fast and weak perfect for running away if you decide saving the world is way too hard of a job. While the Sinden has weak power it does have decent homing capabilities and its special weapon is the laser which can fires through enemies and destroyable structures allowing you to hit multiple enemies. When powered up the laser fires twin beams.

After you select your game you are given your level mission which consists of finding and defeating the boss of the level. The bosses are difference each level, for instance, level one is a large plane, level two is a large battleship and so on. You also have a rival black jet that appears from time to time, but you don’t have your final battle with him until the end.

As you progress through the levels you take out a ton of enemies of all types. There are planes, tanks, ships, ground weapons and some enemies that take much more than one shot to take out. You will come across power-ups in the game that give you different weapons like lasers, missiles and spread blasters. There are also bombs in the game which clear out most enemies when detonated.

I always used a side to side sweeping pattern with vertical scrolling games this allowed me to move out of most of the enemy fire. When a blast was about to hit me and I could not move out of the way in time I would fire my bomb which most of the time saved my life.

19xx screenshot boss
19xx screenshot boss

When you reach the end of the level you go up against a large boss. Most of the time your biggest issue is dealing with the amount of firepower coming your way, but if you take out the small weaker guns first it is then easier to avoid the larger fire and take out the boss.

As for scoring you get additional points and ranks for how many bombs you have after each mission as well as how many enemies you took out and how long it took you to destroy the boss. In addition you gain points for collecting medals that fall from certain enemies.

19XX is not ground breaking, but it did have nice graphics for the time. I especially liked the way the ships sunk, again, nothing ground breaking, but it was fun and that is what counted for me. The music was also pretty good, from the drum beat when beginning a mission to the boss battle music it really got you into the game.

Surprisingly enough the game itself was not very hard. While some of the bosses took a bit of time to lock down their pattern it was not so insane that you spent a ton of quarters on the game. I believe it had a good mix of challenge and playability. The game was defiantly a classic.

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J.A. Laraque

J.A. Laraque is a freelance writer and novelist. His passion for writing mixed with a comedic style and intelligent commentary has brought him success in his various endeavors. Whatever the subject, J.A. has an opinion on it and will present it in writing with an insight and flair that is both refreshing and informative.