NES Collection #003: 1943: The Battle of Midway Review

This sequel to 1942 loses the simplicity of the old one, but becomes a much better console game in the process.

Game: 1943: The Battle of Midway
Platforms: Arcade, NES
Price: ~$20

From the moment I started up this game, I knew it was going to be better than 1942. The graphics just look so much better, and the movement is much more fluid. 

The basic premise is the same: you, a lone fighter pilot, are tasked with destroying the entire Japanese amarda. Even though this premise remains the same, the gameplay has been tweaked to create a more engaging console experience.

Firstly, you can earn points to upgrade your plane throughout the game. These upgrades range from defense to fuel to attack and special weapons. Hang on, fuel? Yes, fuel. This game introduces a sort of timer mechanic that means your plane loses fuel throughout the level and when hit by an attack. This means the one hit deaths of 1942 have disappeared, and now the game can throw some harder situations at you, without it feeling unfair.

Special weapons also receive an upgrade. The “POW”-erups that were present in the last game now contain much-needed fuel. Shooting at them can turn them into other powerups such as burst weapons. Another new weapon is the weather attacks, a press of the A button in game results in an elemental attack, such as lighting, disabling the weapons of everything on screen. Both weapon powerups and elemental attacks require a lot of fuel though, so there’s an element of strategy to when or if you use them.

Level design has also received an overhaul. Now each level contains two stages: the first, consisting of planes, bombers, and all the weaker enemies; and a boss section, which can, for example, take place closer to the ocean. Bosses range from cruisers to aircraft carriers to giant planes, or even just a relentless assault from bombers. This is a much better design than the fairly similar level designs of 1942, which were only broken up by the occasional boss battle.

My one major complaint with this game was that it can feel unfair at times, when it just doesn’t need to be. I have no doubt that I will encounter artificially difficult games in this NES collection, but this shouldn’t be one of them. Planes will cole straight for you, with no way of dodging them. Some planes can drop below your line of fire, making them more difficult to kill. I would have much rather preferred some proper strategy here, because 1942 didn’t have this problem to the extreme that 1943 does. A midpoint between the difficulty styles of the two games needed to be reached. There was some minor stuttering occasionally, but nothing major.

I regret to say I couldn’t finish this game. It was too similar to 1942, and the difficulty just felt unfair. Maybe one day I’ll finish this, but for now I have to move on.

1943 is a definite improvement on the previous installment, with numerous gameplay and design enhancements, and so I’m giving it a 4/5 objectively. Subjectively though, although I appreciated the game I just couldn’t get into it, so I’m giving it a 3/5.


+ Good Level Design

+ Gameplay enhancements



– Unfair difficulty


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