Super Cobra is a video game developed by Konami in 1981 and distributed in the United States by Stern. A further development of Scramble, it is also a side scrolling ‘shoot ‘em up’ with outstanding graphics and game play. In Super Cobra, you control a helicopter with the goal of getting 10,000 miles, grab the booty, and carry it away. In addition to controlling the movements of your helicopter, you must also use your guns and bombs to destroy rockets, tanks, and fuel tanks. You must keep an eye on your own fuel and destroy a fuel tank to increase your fuel level.
In Super Cobra the terrain is constantly changing and you must fight your way through eleven stages:
- Stage 1: Mountainous terrain against fast and slow firing rockets
- Stage 2: Arcing missiles over a mountain terrain
- Stage 3: Smart bombs flying in groups of four over mountainous terrain. Rockets appear, but do not fire
- Stage 4: Single smart bombs over mountainous terrain. Again, Rockets appear, but do not fire
- Stage 5: Flying through a cavern-like terrain against falling mines
- Stage 6: Rapidly firing, roving tanks over mountainous terrain. Rockets appear, but do not fire
- Stage 7: Maneuver through a field of meteors which explode when hit with bombs or 3 times with laser, plus a single, green, shadow meteor directly in front of chopper which explodes when hit five times with laser. Rockets appear but do not fire
- Stage 8: Mountainous terrain with rapidly firing UFOs. Tanks and rockets appear, but do not fire
- Stage 9: Arcing missiles over tall buildings
- Stage 10: Firing rockets in a building maze
- Stage 11: Base-maneuver your helicopter over tall buildings, missiles, and tanks to reach the Booty and safely carry it away.
The Super Cobra arcade units were powered by two Z80 CPU’s and two AY-3-8910 sound generators. It was ported to the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit systems, Intellivision, and Colecovison. Most recently, and updated version has been ported to the Atari 2600.
In 1983, Parker Brothers released their port of Super Cobra for the Atari 2600. At the time, it was considered a decent port and received a certificate of merit at the 1983 Arkie Awards. With the recent release of Super Cobra Arcade for the 2600, this 1983 port is now one to skip.
Thanks John Champeau, it is now possible to play an almost arcade perfect port of Super Cobra on the Atari 2600. John took advantage of the work that he had done on Scramble and adapted his code to produce an outstanding port of Super Cobra. Super Cobra was released by AtariAge at the 2017 Portland Retro Gaming Expo with a color manual, poster, and an amazing box. Several other AtariAge forum members contributed to the game, including Nathan Strum (graphics), Michael Haas (music, sound effects, label, box, and manual design), Darrell Spice (level generation and code) and Thomas Jentzsch (level generation and code).
Super Cobra for the 2600 is amazingly close to the arcade version and, when playing it, you have to keep reminding yourself that it is an Atari 2600 game. Like a few other recent homebrew games, John takes advantage of the Melody board to make the 2600 do things once thought not possible! The graphics and sounds are outstanding, and all eleven arcade levels are included.
A really cool feature that John built into the 2600 version of Scramble is the ability to use a Sega Genesis controller. If plugged in before your 2600 is powered up, Scramble will auto-detect the Genesis controller and allow two button game play (for separate control of firing bombs and missiles). John also takes advantage of the 2600’s color/B&W switch to implement a pause feature in the game as well as the difficulty switch to allow for single shot or ‘burst mode’ when shooting missiles.
Like Scramble, Super Cobra is a fun game, but takes a lot of practice. John has built in four difficulty levels into his 2600 version which will keep you coming back for more. Also, John has included the ‘continue’ feature of the arcade, so you can play on, even when the game should be over. Super Cobra Arcade for the Atari 2600 is a must have game for your collection!
The 5200 version was also released by Parker Brothers in 1983, is faithful to the arcade version and includes all eleven levels.
I have seen reviews that state difficulties with using the 5200’s analog joysticks. It probably would have been a wise idea to either make the caverns wider or do so via a menu selection or difficulty setting, but I have played it with a 5200 joystick and a CX40 (via a masterplay clone adapter) and find it challenging, but not impossible. Obviously, the better your joystick, the easier it will be to score higher at Super Cobra. Like John’s 2600 version, Parker Brothers included the continue feature which adds significantly to the enjoyment of the game.
Unfortunately, Parker Brothers did not take advantage of the keypad on the 5200 controller and add any game options. The only option is for the # key to select a one or two player game. Additionally, only the lower fire button is used, which fires both missiles and bombs. Despite these shortcomings, Super Cobra is a definite ‘must have’ for your 5200 collection.
A simple graphics hack of Bob DeCrescenzo’s Scramble has been made available by Good Deal Games and, until John’s 2600 version was released, this was as close as you could get to Super Cobra on the 7800. John’s 2600 plays great on the 7800 and includes all Super Cobra levels and features, so it’s buyer’s choice as to which way to choose if you have a 7800.