Thursday 31 December 2015

Cobra Triangle (NES review)

Developer: Rare
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1989

Cobra Triangle is a racing and vehicular combat game that was designed by Chris and Tim Stamper.

You control a speedboat with a mounted gun attached and the objective is to survive 25 events against the clock. Along the way pods can be picked up and similar to Gradius (1986, NES) each one moves up a weapon metre at the bottom of the screen; when it reaches the item you require pressing Select activates it. For the most part the controls are good and the action moves along at a brisk pace. The events are a real mixed bag though; on one hand there's the brilliant Race to the Finish where you try to collect power-up icons and battle fellow drivers while heading for the line. Guard the People is also interesting as it plays a bit like Rip Off (1982, Vectrex) as you stop the swimmers from being kidnapped by incoming boats. Dispose of Mines is really intense as you pick up mines and transport them to the disposal area while a guard is hot on your tail. There's even huge bosses that are great fun to fight as you need to dodge their fire and shoot back while navigating in tight quarters. However, there are some frustrating events such as Reach the Finish where your path is blocked by logs, whirlpools and icicles that damage your boat and spin you around 180°; there's barely any room to move and inevitably you will get hit. Likewise, Jump the Waterfall sees you avoiding whirlpools and launching off ramps to clear gaps; unfortunately you can't see these ramps until the last second and it's impossible to slow down as the stream's momentum carries you forward into a pit of death! The game claims there are 25 stages but in reality there's only eight events that loop every so often.
Cobra Triangle is a brave attempt at combining the racing and combat genres and in many respects it was way ahead of its time. Unfortunately, the events are hit and miss and there's simply not enough of them to hold your attention for too long.
Random trivia: In 2015, the game was re-released on an Xbox One compilation called Rare Replay.

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