Task Force 1942

aka: Task Force 1942: Surface Naval Action in the South Pacific
Moby ID: 401
DOS Specs
Buy on DOS
$23.00 used on eBay
Buy on Windows
$6.99 new on Steam
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Description official descriptions

The year 1942 is the subject of many computer games that deal with World War II. The reason: this was the year that many pivotal battles were fought including Midway, Stalingrad, N. Africa, and... Guadalcanal. This game deals with the desperate battles fought in the Solomon Islands, specifically in and around the island of Guadalcanal, in which the Allies tried to stop the Japanese from their drive to Australia.

In TF42, you can play as either the Americans or Japanese. All the major ships that participated are represented, including the infamous Yamato and devastating Iowa. It features individual historical battles, as well as the whole Guadalcanal Campaign.

The objective in the Campaign is to take over both bases on Guadalcanal, but as you are the Naval commander, you do not have direct control over the land battle. Your main objective is to keep the marines on Guadalcanal supplied and bring reinforcements to them, to shell the enemy base, and to stop the enemy from bringing supplies and reinforcements to their troops. These 3 tasks are accomplished by assigning the ships available to you into Task Forces and Task Groups, and send them on Patrol, Supply, and Bombard missions. More ships become available as time progresses.

The game has a strategic mode in which you can order your fleets around and monitor the overall situation, and a tactical mode in which two fleets meet and you can actually command the battle in real-time and "jump into" any ship and fire the guns or torpedos.

You also have air support. The planes can patrol or, if you have fighters/dive bombers/torp bombers available, attack enemy fleets! The air units and amounts of planes available to you change as they did in the actual war.

You can create your own "Dream Matchups": Yamato vs. Iowa; North Carolina vs. Nagato; A group of New Orleans Heavy Cruisers vs. small but fast and deadly torpedo-armed Japanese destroyers... all the ships are available.

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Credits (DOS version)

41 People (36 developers, 5 thanks) · View all

Project Leader
Game Design
Manual Text
Lead Programmer
Art Director
3D Objects
Graphics Programming
Screen Graphics
Musical Score
3-D Rendering
Title Sequence
Graphics Assistance
Programming Assistance
Quality Assurance
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 76% (based on 9 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 6 ratings with 1 reviews)

I need an exterminator!

The Good
Task Force 1942 is a great idea for a game. It has a lot of different types of ships, all heavily researched and accurately represented in terms of their statistics (armor thickness, gun size, types of guns, etc.). The graphics are very good (not great), and there are a lot of interesting details (ships can burn in multiple locations, they stream smoke, they can run aground, some will continue to move as they sink as in real life, etc.).

All 3 dimensions of war are represented: land, sea, and air. This is awesome... very few games feature all 3.

The music is pretty good. The little newsreel-type cutscenes are great and create a real WWII atmosphere.

The Bad
BUGS! This game had more bugs than an ant farm. The first version was horrendous (ships would go through land, among other things), and they released a patch which fixed some bugs but introduced new ones.

Here is a list of some bugs I found: Can't stop search planes. The speed of Task Groups would go to maximum and you couldn't change it. Windows cover the ships. The time acceleration rate on the tactical map will change randomly. Japanese ships will sometimes go to 30 knots regardless of their type (we're talking transports and slow ships which are supposed to have a maximum speed of 12 kts!). Torpedo director refuses to lock onto and track a target. Lead ship or other ships in a Task Group will sometimes go off on their own and refuse to respond to orders. Ships will refuse to turn when you order them to. You will magically get 2 or more of the same ship. And on and on!

After I bought this game, I swore that I would never buy another Microprose game, and I didn't until 1998 when European Air War came out (six years later). There is absolutely no excuse for a game to have that many bugs.

It's very difficult to see the shells you fire during day battles. You need a high contrast monitor with the contrast turned all the way up. It's hard to see them at night too.

The aiming and firing system uses one similar to actual WWII ships, which used an analog computer that took data in from various sources and tried to figure out the "firing solution", the correct elevation and amount of powder to use for the barrels and shells, respectively. When you lock onto a target in TF42, the solution will gradually increase and eventually reach 100%, at which time you'd think that if you lined up the crosshairs it would guarantee a hit. Not so! Aiming the guns is really hard unless you're close to the enemy ship.

This means that the whole aiming and firing aspect of the game, which should be the most fun part, is very unrewarding and needlessly difficult. If you can hardly see your shells, and it's hard to aim, what good is that? The only other option is to just sit there and watch the computer aim and fire the guns, but that's pointless... firing the guns is really the most "interactive" part of the game. You might as well rent a WWII movie.

I realize that making it hard to aim does make it more realistic, but too much so. I think they needed to find a better balance of realism and fun. Having a game fully realistic but impossible to play isn't fun, and fun should be the bottom line for any type of game.

Also, some of these issues bring up a question: are these things bugs (for example, ships going off on their own) or just poor implementations? I could see that maybe they were trying to show the "fog of war", in which units can become confused because of all the action going on around them as happens in real war, but I couldn't find any references to this in the manual. If this is what they were trying to show, there should be some way of letting the player know why the ship is going off on its own (for example, the unit doesn't have line of sight to the target and is trying to find a way around the smoke). But to just have it go off for no reason and no explanation in the manual leads me to believe that this is a bug.

Even though there is fighting on land, sea, and air, it could have been implemented better. You have very limited control over the air units. Basically, you can only control search planes; attack planes (bombers and fighters) act on their own. You should be able to choose the planes and what they attack. I know this wouldn't work with the premise of the game in that you are the naval commander, but maybe they should have expanded the player's role in order to make it more interesting? In addition, you have no control over the marines other than transporting them and transporting supplies to them. You have no control over if, where, what, and when they attack. It would have been really awesome if they could have incorporated some sort of RTS battle system for the land battles, but that wasn't their focus.

The sound effects are good, but there aren't enough of them. You can only hear explosions (guns firing and when the ship is hit) on the one ship that you can control at a time. They should have made it so you could hear explosions all around the ship, splashes, shouting, metal twisting, ships creaking, etc.

The Bottom Line
Don't waste your money. It could have been great, but everyone in the testing department must've taken leave of their senses!

I wrote a few letters to Microprose telling them about all the bugs, and they sent me another full copy of the game thinking that something might be wrong with my disks, but that wasn't the problem... the game was just poorly programmed.

DOS · by Raphael (1245) · 1999

Trivia

Extras

The game came with an official Navy topographical map of Guadalcanal and surrounding islands.

Awards

  • Power Play
    • Issue 02/1993 – #2 Best Simulation in 1992

Analytics

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  • MobyGames ID: 401
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Raphael.

Macintosh, Windows, Linux added by Charly2.0.

Additional contributors: formercontrib, Patrick Bregger.

Game added November 9, 1999. Last modified May 22, 2024.