Old School Shmup Vibes Downed by Modern Flaws – 1945 Air Force Review

The first shmup (or shoot ’em up) I ever played was Space Invaders on sit-down, cocktail arcade cabinet in a local pizza joint. You could say that game is the granddaddy of the genre, existing in a time before terms like “shmup” were even coined.
The genre has certainly evolved since the heady days of the late ’70s. Now there are even more specific subdivisions, like “bullet hell shooters” and “cute em ups,” but the core mechanic of “a bunch of monsters/aliens/rocks/things are flying at you, and you need to make them dead” is still intact. One of the games that exemplified this addictive formula was Capcom’s 1942 (and the resultant 194X series), which hit arcades about ten years after the invaders from space were a big thing.
This brings me to the challenging game on the agenda for today: 1945 Air Force, a shoot ’em up that is, like 1942, set during World War II and features gameplay “borrowed” directly from the aforementioned classic arcade games. Developer Onesoft pays homage well, with cool pixelated graphics that stay true to the 194X series. I mean, the first time I saw some screenshots of this title, I said to myself, “Oh, they’re making another 194X game.” That’s how close it is on several levels.
On top of the graphics, the excellent sound design and music should be noted here as well. The horn-heavy themes are appropriately epic, and the on-screen explosions actually had me flinching the first few times I heard them.
Mastering gameplay in 1945 Air Force is a fairly simple affair, mainly because it's similar to every other game in this genre. Your airplane shoots automatically (no rapid button mashing here, unfortunately), so your job is simply to fly the plane across the level by dragging your finger around the screen. When you shoot an enemy, it explodes and yields you coins and spare parts that you can use to buy new and better planes or upgrade the fleet you are amassing. Said fleet can house over thirty historical planes from the U.S., British, Russian, German, and Japanese Air Forces—and yes, that includes the “Super Ace” P-38 Lightning featured in 1942.
One of the most interesting aspects of 1945 Air Force is that it will adapt to any player’s ability thanks to its three difficulty levels. A new difficulty level is unlocked once you beat a level on a lower difficulty, and this system rewards practice and perseverance with plenty of coins and rare materials for improving your aircraft. But as I progressed further into the game, I realized that it is very much a pay-to-win deal, where money is exchanged for limited progress. The only way to avoid paying real money in 1945 Air Force is by watching dozens of ads per day, each of which last thirty seconds or longer. And again, the benefits offered by watching these ads yield little progress. The game feels purposefully designed in a confusing way—almost as if it wants you to make mistakes and spend your hard-earned resources by accident. If you want to reset these expenditures there’s no confirmation, and if you accidently click, your resources are spent without any sort of confirmation. And no refunds are offered, a massive design flaw that needs to be addressed.
1945 Air Force is still a good time, though, especially for anyone who has a deep-seated affinity for the shmup genre. I couldn’t help but appreciate this game’s beautiful, immersive graphics, teeth-rattling explosions, and overall fluid gameplay. Just don’t let the game get its hands too deeply into your pockets.
AirAttack 2. Play 1945 Air Force if Coyla’s more realistic take (thanks to 3D rendered graphics rather than pixel art) on the WWII milieu tickles your fancy as well.
• The 194X Series. 1945 Air Force isn’t a Capcom arcade classic, but it does provide shoot ’em up thrills in spades, and there’s something to be said for that.
💬 Have you played 1945 Air Force? Let us know what you think of it in the comments! Even if you haven't played it, leave a comment sharing your thoughts on your favorite shoot ’em up titles!
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Flying part is fun but the rest of this 'game' is absolute hot garbage. Freaking ridiculous to have literally everything locked behind a pay wall. Even after getting your first Loot Chest you only get currency to Upgrade specific planes, NOT unlock them. It's a flippin shame because the game play is almost decent. If you want an actual quality game that doesn't shove micro transactions play the 2014 under-rated gem Sky Force Reloaded. I completed that game in its entirety and the obsessive pursuit of getting through every level unscathed AND taking out every enemy kept me coming back time and time and time again.
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I hear you. I'll have to check that other game out then. Thanks for the input!
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