STORY / GAMEPLAY
The game is the sequel to the arcade smash 1942, and has you once again dog-fighting over the clouds during the Second World War. The game is set in the WWII Pacific Theater, somewhere off the coast of Midway Islands. Your goal as a pilot is to attack the Japanese Air Fleet that bombed your American Aircraft Carrier and destroy all Japanese Air and Sea forces. Flying with a P-38, you go through 16 levels shooting your way to the Japanese battleship Yamato and eliminate it. The game is a classic "bird's eye" vertical shoot 'em up. You must shoot everything appearing on your screen (from aircrafts to battleships) and avoid enemy bullets as well as mounted ship cannon fodders. Same story, same action as its predecessor. Apart from shooting you can also perform a loop-the-loop maneuver to avoid enemy fire, which is a unique feature for its time. You may also perform one of the three available special lightning attacks in exchange for some of your (really precious) fuel! So do care for your remaining fuel (indicated on the screen) which can be refilled by collecting various power-ups (obtained by destroying red aircraft groups that occasionally appear) or otherwise your plane will crash and burn instantly. In the NES version, a small briefing of the next mission is always available, as well as the ability to upgrade some of your aircraft's features (attacking power and defensive power, max fuel level and special weapon power and duration) using limited points collected during gameplay. At the end of each level, you must confront a boss varying from gigantic battleships to flying fortresses! Much like its predecessors, 1943 is an addictive shoot 'em up, but it is quite tough to progress, as it is hard to avoid enemy fire due to its "loose" controls.
GRAPHICS / SOUND
The ZX Spectrum conversion offers some nice details though the gameplay area is shown in two colors only! Nevertheless, the sprites move quite fast on screen and the scrolling doesn't seem to suffer much during gameplay (note that the relevant Amstrad CPC version plays quite sluggish due to low frame-rates). The game's sound is quite poor, featuring a few typical sound effects but no in-game music or any main-menu music theme.