Wednesday 2 December 2015

Super Cobra (Colecovision review)

Developer: Parker Brothers
Publisher: Parker Brothers
Released: 1983

Super Cobra is a horizontally scrolling shooter and the follow-up to Scramble (1981, Arcades).

Piloting a chopper your mission is to travel 11,000 miles through enemy territory as you face flying saucers, rockets and heavy ground artillery. Your journey is split up into eleven unique stages and you can either fire straight ahead or bomb below you. These bombs travel at roughly a 120° angle and it takes a while to adjust to them not travelling straight downwards as you have to plan ahead. The fuel gauge in the bottom right is vitally important and you must destroy any fuel tanks to keep topping up. The stages are tons of fun and each brings new hazards in the form of different enemies, varied scenery and treacherous pathways. They're all very well designed too as some test your bombing skills while others rely on reaction times and multiple quick turns to avoid crashing into the environment. The controls are extremely responsive which is really shown off in the narrow corridor areas you'll face later in the game. Once you've lost all your lives you can continue at the same point you left off but your score is reduced to zero; this is a great idea and a really nice trade-off for people who just want to see what each stage has to offer. The difficulty is perfect and the game eases you into the action while providing a good challenge later on. One downside is that the collision detection is inconsistent and there's times when you'll die despite not touching an enemy. On the flip side though, there are other occasions where you're clearly clipping through the scenery so it works in your favour! I also encountered an annoying game-breaking bug during one play-through as everything locked up at 10,000 miles!

Super Cobra is a fun shooter with lots of replayability as beating all of its stages takes a while. It's not quite as interesting or ground-breaking as Scramble but the action is still highly addictive and it clearly had a big influence on a number of other horizontal shooters such as Dawn Raider (1988, Atari 8-bit).

Random trivia: Ports appeared on a number of systems including the Atari 2600, Intellivision and MSX.

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