The Game: You’re piloting a heavily armed helicopter straight into a heap o’ trouble. Ground and air defenses have been mounted in this enemy installation to stop you at any costs. Missiles, anti-aircraft turrets, and even other vehicles will See the videodo anything to knock you out of the sky – and given the chunky terrain, the odds are in favor of the house. Your only saving grace is that you’re armed to the teeth. But, as you may have guessed by now, even that may not be enough to save you. (Parker Brothers, 1983)
Memories: Parker Brothers may have been an old hand at board games, but it was a youngster in the video game business. Still, all that clout from its industry-dominating board game operation didn’t hurt, helping Parkers secure major hit licenses that no other young video game operation could’ve scored: Frogger, Q*Bert, and let’s not forget the very first Star Wars home video games. In the middle of this stellar line-up was… Super Cobra.
Licensed from Konami (the makers of Frogger), Super Cobra was a semi-obscure sequel to the successful scrolling shooter Scramble. Though it was a common fixture in arcades, Super Cobra never quite hit critical mass with the public. Shoehorning it into a package licensing deal with Frogger was probably Konami’s best bet on having the game turn a profit in the western world. Parker Brothers dutifully cranked out several adaptations of Super Cobra for numerous platforms, even including the Videopac (Europe’s equivalent to the Odyssey2).
Some of those adaptations weren’t quite ready for prime time, to put it mildly (infamously, the Videopac hardware could barely even handle the game). The Intellivision version, however, seems to be something of a lost gem. Not only does it accurately convey the “look and feel” and the challenge of Super Copra, but it adds a few twists unique to this cartridge edition. The player’s stats (score, fuel remaining, lives or “choppers” remaining, distance into the target area) scroll along at the same speed as the scrolling playfield, fitting into the overall look of the game unobtrusively.
It’s also one of those games that’s just perfect with the Intellivision’s controllers, and sounds pretty good too.
Super Cobra seemed fairly simplistic in the arcade, but it was a monster of a game to get right at home. Parker Brothers’ Intellivision version of the game came very close to nailing it – and turned out to be a decent game in its own right in the meantime.