Saturday 27 June 2015

Cosmic Avenger (Colecovision review)

Developer: Universal
Publisher: Universal
Released: 1982

Cosmic Avenger is a side-scrolling space shooter that was originally released in the Arcades in 1981.

It clearly takes inspiration from Scramble (1981, Arcades) as the control set up is very similar. Both of the controller's side buttons are used as the left one drops bombs and the right one fires your laser. There are three separate sections available and once you beat them all the game loops with tougher and faster enemies. In the first area you battle UFOs and anti-aircraft machines that fire heat seekers if you don't shoot them quickly. You're certainly not eased into the action and it will take a while before you learn the best way to deal with the onslaught of enemies. The second area sees you moving closer to the ground to take out tanks and the occasional UFO. There is a radar you can use at the top of the screen to view incoming UFOs but it's redundant as it doesn't give you much notice. The final area is an underwater cavern where your path becomes more narrow. It houses anti-aircraft machines, mines and submarines that fire speedy torpedoes so you'll need some quick reactions and a steady hand. The scrolling is very smooth throughout each location and the game is a lot of fun to play. There's little time to relax and you constantly need to think ahead to determine how best to tackle what's currently on screen. Interestingly, enemy vehicles aren't immune to friendly fire and it's possible for them to accidently blow each other up! The collision detection is a bit off as sometimes bullets will fly straight through their intended target. You can also only fire one bullet at a time and this can be problematic when a UFO is staring you straight in the face.

Cosmic Avenger is an excellent space shooter and I'd recommend it to fans of Scramble and Defender. Even though there's only three short areas you can still bump up the difficulty to skill setting 4; be warned though, it's a serious challenge!

Random trivia: If you find it difficult to be accurate with the awkward Colecovision controller try plugging in an Atari 7800 joypad. It works wonders as both buttons still work independently!

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