Would 1942 become a good game after that though? I don't see the appeal, but I heard people praising the series. Would like to know why.
I was mostly just joking around, but...
Honestly no. And I have no idea why it gets so much praise even in the context of when it was released.
The only way to make a good game out of 1942 is make an extensive "demake" style hack using 1943 as a base.
I imagine most would consider this to be more trouble than it's worth.
And considering that Capcom preferred to make an entirely new game instead of anything even resembling a true remake, I don't blame them. (See "1942: Joint Strike" for reference.)
Let me entertain the idea of such a project.
Obviously, trying to fix 1942 itself in a way similarly to the magnificent job you did on Super Pitfall would certainly be an exercise in frustration.
Given that it's a mapper 0 game, it's quite limited in what you can do with it.
So I'd use 1943 as a base.
It at least has mapper 2, lots more space over all, and shares many of the same features.
I think the biggest challenges would be figuring out a way to fit in the extra 8 stages, ASM hacking all the power-ups, stripping out the level-up system, replacing the fuel meter with lives, and merging the special attacks with defensive loops.
Oh! And, of course, making some new music for it!
At that point you'd have a version of 1942 with better music, graphics, and game play.
Maybe even keep laser as an unlockable bonus.
Superior even to the original arcade version in many ways.
I think that could be worth it.