Friday, September 24, 2010

Retro Game of the Day! Super Cobra

Retro Game of the Day! Super Cobra

Super Cobra by Konami, released in the arcade in 1981.

Here is another extremely early game which helped define a trend which would last well past a decade. In the 1970s, you had games like Space Invaders and Galaxian, vertical shooters which took place on a single playfield. These games were hugely popular quarter suckers, and inspired countless imitators. As the years crept past, so too did the technology improve, and this style of game had to evolve into something more complicated to remain interesting.

And so, after some time Konami introduced their novel side-scrolling shooter Scramble, which made its predecessors seem quite antiquated. Rather than battling enemies screen-by-screen, you traveled your craft over a long horizontal playfield, and had to contend with both ground-based and airborne enemies, as well as environmental obstacles. Additionally, a fuel tank needed to be constantly maintained (bombing fuel canisters would take care of refilling). This new style of play was revolutionary and extremely challenging.

Super Cobra was essentially an extension of what had been introduced with Scramble, only all the more difficult. The player had to navigate ridiculously treacherous mazes while suffering a constant onslaught of enemy fire (and the aforementioned dwindling fuel supply). To say the game was stressful is an understatement. In that, however, it was not only challenging but also gratifying. A capable test of the reflexes of the attentive, these games were quite rewarding to the player who would dare to just "try and live a little longer."

Super Cobra and its ilk were short-lived - these games paved the way for more traditionally-remembered shooters such as Gradius, which can trace its lineage directly back to these titles. Sadly, something was lost along the way as the perfect "twitch-rhythm" a player could settle into with earlier shooters was sacrificed in lieu of more memorization-based gameplay and reliance on weapon power-up strategies. That being said, for a gamer willing to look past the archaic presentation of Super Cobra, a thrilling, challenging and rewarding game experience unlike any other still awaits.

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