april 27, 2014
Cobra Command, famicom
Helicopter games are rarely worth anything, no matter if they are scrolling or not. The only exception I can think of is Kyuukyoku Tiger (Twin Cobra). But that game is exactly like any airplane shooter.
For all Apple fans, I remember I played a helicopter game on Macintosh sometime in the early 1990s. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvh0agHVLHQ .
Anyways, I played a bit of Cobra Command for a Famicom Friday, then read about how to play it properly and went back to play some more. It helps to learn what the game is about. First, you rescue hostages. You have to rescue all hostages in one area before you can continue on the level. In the rescue hostages theme, the game probably takes from Choplifter, a simplistic game that does have its charm (also available on famicom, and is cheap like all helicopter games).
You can land on supply depots, as I did twice in the video. There you will get weapon upgrades or other upgrades. Go into the equip menu by pressing Select. The Start button is used to turn around the helicopter.
Most youtube videos have different colors for some reason, but this is how the game looks on my AV modded famicom.
Cobra Command has nice graphics, advanced levels, good looking enemies and stages, and a good strategy element. However, the controls are difficult. The helicopter is sensitive and quickly moves you into a wall for sudden death. And when you move helicopter forward it becomes strangely slow to the point that it will become difficult to avoid enemies. I try to counter that by tapping the forward button, but you can also fly backwards if you feel certain there are no obstacles.
If you can learn the controls and accept them, the game is enjoyable. I read that it has only 6 stages and is beatable without being overly hard. You start with four lives and get more from the supply depots. If you die all lives, there are 2 or 3 continues. I only played the first stage though. I rate the game "decent".
The Japanese version has Japanese text. From what I read on gamefaqs, some hostages give you messages but these messages are virtually useless. So I rate the famicom game 95% playable. As you see in the video, all the names of items in the menu are in English.