#26 Scramble

Posted: 7th May 2015 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , , , ,

423rd played so far

Scramble_arcade_flyerGenre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Platform: Arcade
Year of Release: 1981
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Leijac/Stern

One of our recurring (though now ultimately futile) discussions is whether we should have started playing these games in order. It’s too late now, but even now we could start doing it, making it easier to get through – and certainly covering some of the genres we’re regularly behind on now. If we’d done it, we’d currently be on Space Channel 5 – decent progress, but stuck in 1999 still

We tend to be able to cover them from time to time – looking at the numbers, as I’m writing this, we recently published three of them in a row. From this point on, we’ll probably also continue to put some more emphasis on it. We’ll want some fun, but the more fun big games might be delayed. Delayed gratification that suits us as well.

Our Thoughts

Scramble, then, is a horizontal scroller. Your movement is limited to roughly the leftmost quarter of the screen, your plane mostly moving up and down. While it’s partially a shooter – indeed, it has all the trappings of one – a large part of the game has you dodging attacks instead as a number of big rockets fire at you. You can shoot them, but both the patterns in which they attack and the hills in the ground they stand on make that difficult – even impossible when I was playing. Memorizing the order of attack and dodging is as much as you want to do early on, focusing on shooting only when needed or easy.

Adding to the difficulty is fuel. You have a limited amount and can only refuel by shooting fuel depots on the floor. These, however, can be difficult to hit – if they’re just behind a hill, it’s difficult to get to.

Part of the difficulty, then, comes from having to make snap decisions – do you avoid the rockets or shoot them, or is there a gap to go for a fuel depot to refuel? Is it worth the risk or do you maybe need it?

The levels evolve – different enemies with different attack patterns follow, but the same structure of shooting and avoidance continues. It turns a simple formula in a tough, enjoyable game that – as so many arcade games – invites you to keep trying until you get further.

Final Thoughts

Not at the top of the charts, it feels like Scramble adds an interesting twist to the scrolling shoot em up by focusing so much more on avoiding damage, rather than just shooting everything in sight.