Sequel to the 1981 arcade game Scramble (which only appeared officially on the Vectrex, Tomy Tutor, and some Japanese computers), Super Cobra is a side scrolling helicopter game in which you must fly over a (and I quote) ďA 10,000 mile obstacle course through ever-changing terrainĒ. Of course each area is just filled with deadly missiles, guns, and mines to grab a big bag of booty (yes they actually call it booty). I donít know what kind of drugs the good folks at Parker Brothers were on, but 10,000 miles is almost half the distance around the world. Thatís one heck of a long obstacle course. Also, who just keeps a giant bag of booty laying around for any olí helicopter to swoop down and grab? Super Cobra is a game that asks more questions than it answers.
Comical backstory aside, Super Cobra is your standard side-scrolling shooter with some tight twisty passageways thrown in. The course is divided up into eleven sections representing 1,000 miles each (the last section is a short area with the booty). Your helicopter is armed with two main weapons, a gun which fires straight ahead, and bombs which fall down with a small arc. Both weapons can destroy enemies, but sometimes one is more suited for the terrain than the other. Each area has different combinations of active and inactive weapons and slowly activates them to increase the difficulty. So for example, although the area may contain artillery guns, the might not be active for that section. By the time you get to section 9, all the weapons are active.
Other than the various weapons, your main enemy is mother earth herself. Each section of the game contains numerous mountains and tight passages that must be navigated successfully. The further into the game you get, the tighter and more severe the passageways become. Complicating your navigation is the fact that your fuel gauge is always dropping and must be refilled. This is accomplished by bombing fuel tanks which are scattered around the level (how this works is a mystery).
If you lose all of your lives before reaching the booty, you are given a chance to continue from the start of the current area. This is a nice feature which makes a rather long game, much more beatable. Once you actually manage reach and grab the booty, you will start a new loop at a higher difficulty. Amazingly Super Cobra also has a pause feature which can be activated with the Color/B&W switch (this was strangely left out of the PAL version). Players may also select their speed (slow, medium, and fast) at the start of the game.
Although it may be graphically simpler than
the Atari 8-bit/5200 port, the Atari 2600 version of Super Cobra
is actually a much better game. Not only is the helicopter
smaller and easier to maneuver, but the simple graphics actually
look better when in motion than the more complex graphics on the
Atari 8-bit/5200. Super Cobra was a rather popular arcade
game, so it was ported to a host of systems including the Atari
5200, Atari 8-bit computers, Colecovision, Intellivision, MSX,
and various Japanese computers. Even the lowly Odyssey 2
got a port of Super Cobra, although it was a single screen
without scrolling (which would have been impossible).
Perhaps the most unusual port was for the Entex Adventure
Vision, a small monochrome mini-cade type system which only had
four games produced total. Although Super Cobra
didnít exactly set the arcades on fire, it seems that Parker
Brothers was trying to get it onto any system that could run it
(and then some). Perhaps they knew a diamond in the rough
when they saw one?