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WANTED: Feedback for Scramble


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I'm looking for the next episode of the Atari 7800 Homebrew Podcast (you can find it on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or use this feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/homebrew78 )

What are your thoughts on Scramble? This game will be covered on Episode 11.

You can also e-mail text or audio to homebrew78 -at- fab4it -dot- com.

Deadline is 11:59pm CDT on Wednesday, May 17. Any comments from after then will be addressed in a later episode.

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Looking at games like Scramble and Astroblaster will give you a good feel for what arcades were like in the early years. While not my kind of game, I greatly appreciate that obscure titles are made for the 7800. Especially the attention to detail, making games as faithful as possible. It's hard to believe the TIA can sound so good (compare to commercial releases like dkjr). A very colorful, visually appealing port.

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Long before Gradius, there is the granddaddy of them all, Scramble. No power-up, no upgrades. Just a Jet rocket dropping bombs and blasting forward. This game requires pure navigation skill and at times little to no error in movement.

Being no different from many of Bob's creations, this is a fantastic port of the Arcade original. If you love Scramble in the Arcades, you'll likely love it on the 7800. If you hate it in the Arcades (Especially if you played the "Stern" version), well, you might not hate it under the ProSystem, and here is why:

Difficulty selection.

If your struggle in the Arcade was to maintain fuel and worrying to much about running out, there is now an Easy setting; coupled with the default Norm and Hard options allows relative variety in the game's configuration.

Easy, for example, means no rockets launch at your ship, and fuel depletes at a slower pace. Normal is the default setting, mimicking the Konami version's challenge with a normal fuel burn rate and 2 rockets launching at once. Pining for the ultimate Scramble challenge, there is Hard. It ups the number of rockets from the Norm setting of 2 simultaneously launching to 4. Additionally, fuel burns off at a very fast rate.

Like the Arcade original, Scramble is not winning any awards for multi-colored sprites; nonetheless, the 320 resolution is utilized for the graphics, so they are sharp, detailed and pop nicely against the black of space. Sound also follows suit with good matching Arcade sound effects that come across more than adequately on the 7800, despite the TIA.

All 5 stages are present: 1) Rockets Launch Ground 2) UFO Caverns 3) Meteors 4) Rockets Launch Buildings 5) Buildings Maze

It can become a tad bit frustrating to make it upto the buildings maze only to get crushed shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, the difficulty adjustments for the game itself, does not change the maze structuring.

Practice does make perfect, and it may feel like you have to be just that - perfect - to get through the maze. As even after making it past the narrow navigation presented, a bomb must be careful dropped with a timed release just so in order not to over shoot or under shoot the target wedged between buildings.

Nerve-ending and mind-racking? Maybe, but deadly accurate to the Arcade's difficulty. It is an excellent port of what this reviewer considers a good Arcade game. The sequel, Super Cobra, saw porting across a plethora of platforms and is often perceived as the harder of the two. For Scramble, it was under the Vectrex only BITD, and recently released for the 2600.

Scramble is a significant piece of gaming history, being the forerunner for the aforementioned Gradius, as well as R-Types games that followed. A very welcomed addition to the 7800 library. It is worth the investment to play and adds a horizontal scrolling shooter with a flair for challenging and testing even the most skilled player's limits.

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