Oh, boy. 1984 was a rough going for the arcades. Maybe the collapse, which was really in full swing that year, affected what games hit the smokey arcade dungeons.
The 1984 Gamepack for the Capcom Arcade Cabinet, which includes 1942, SonSon and Pirate Ship Higemaru isn't the strongest in the five packs currently available. Let's break them down:
I faintly remember this in some arcade when I was a budding gamer geek (maybe it was in an Aladdin's Castle or LeMans), but the gaming is pretty simple with this one. You play a monkey boy (I'm not rightly sure what his name is, but monkey boy seems like the best) who is battling through multi-tier 2D levels against stone golems, bats, rats, fish and disgruntled looking cavemen. Along the way, the monkey boy collects veggies, fruits and, of course… ahem… french fries (what the hell?).
I found the game incredibly simple for the most part, as dying was more about me than the game being highly unfair. In all the Capcom Arcade Cabinet games I've come across, this one seemed to be the less insane of the bunch. Most games for the cabinet feature a large amount of unfair moments where your hero has a great chance of dying than progressing (see Ghosts'n Goblins and Gunsmoke for details), so it was refreshing to continually progress through SonSon with a bit of ease knowing that when I respawn from death, there won't be another bout of it waiting for me.
Additional features for SonSon include a network ability (though, I couldn't find a quick match), rankings and a gallery.
Overall, SonSon is a fun game, simple and mostly changing with colors than scenery. Definitely the strongest in terms of fair gameplay of the 1984 bunch.
Pirate Ship Higemaru
"Where do I begin?" - Joker from the Dark Knight
You play a Japanese sailor named Momotaro who must use barrels to defeat nasty, grizzly pirates in this oddly put together arcade title. When you see the levels, the first thing that will come to mind, if you're old like me, is how similar it looks to a certain 1983 game called… wait for it… BOMBERMAN! It looks and feels just like the big B-man, so much so that you'll find hidden treasures underneath the scatter barrels you pick up during gameplay. Sure you don't get the exploding element from Bomberman, but you do get plenty of enemies running towards you in odd patterns that you have to systematically pick-off one by one using the said barrels.
Of course, that's where the similarities end with Bomberman and a scattered bit of Mappy begins. The music, the colors and even the evil minions with a flamboyant leader screams Mappy. Regardless, when you put together a Mappy and Bomberman, you do equal out to a tiny bit of an addictive game with Pirate Ship Higemaru. It may not be as easy as SonSon, and believe me it isn't, but it still brings a small bit of pleasure to the 1984 package.
Sadly, there are no network options for this one, as it would have been absolutely epic to have friends online control the pirates as some poor schmoe has to control Momotaro. It's a nice addition to the package, but not the strongest of the bunch.
So you got 1943 already, eh? Well, why not make it two years! 1942 brings the insanity of the World War II flying experience, as does its predecessor 1943. The premise is pretty much what you would expect; fly the plane and shoot down as many enemies as you possibly can in your 'Super Ace' fighter. Along the way, you collect power-ups (POW) to improve your skills and pretty much keep on going for 32 levels.
To say this game was impossibly difficult would be an understatement. I can't imagine how many quarters I would have cost my parents had I not been completely focused on Space Ace during this time in my life. While I certainly do appreciate the complexity in this would be simple shooter, the unpredictable enemies and unfair respawn spots are what makes 1942 frustrating.
And a classic.
One thing that would have been absolutely badass for 1942, and much more tolerable, would have been the inclusion of network capabilities. The game was practically made for online play… maybe not in 1984, but in 2013? YES! You get just a rankings and gallery, though there is two-player capability in the single player game. Gotta love the local ability.
To the summary!