Scramble (video game)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Scramble Arcade flyer
North American flyer
Western Technologies
  • NA: GCE
  • EU: Compu-Games A/S
Platform(s)Arcade (original)
Tomy Tutor, Vectrex
Tomy Tutor
Genre(s)Scrolling shooter
Mode(s)Up to 2 players, alternating turns
Arcade systemKonami Scramble

Scramble (スクランブル, Sukuranburu) is horizontally scrolling shooter released in arcades in 1981. It was developed by Konami, and manufactured and distributed by Leijac in Japan and Stern in North America. It was the first side-scrolling shooter with forced scrolling and multiple distinct levels.[3]

The game was a success, selling 15,136 video game arcade cabinets in the United States within five months, by August 4, 1981, becoming Stern's second best-selling game after Berzerk. Its prequel, the more difficult Super Cobra, sold 12,337 cabinets in the U.S. in four months that same year, adding up to 27,473 U.S. cabinet sales for both, by October 1981.[1]

Scramble was not ported to any major contemporary consoles or computers, but there were releases for the Tomy Tutor and Vectrex as well as dedicated tabletop/handheld versions. Several unauthorized clones for the VIC-20 and Commodore 64 used the same name as the original.


The player controls a futuristic aircraft, referred to in the game as a "Jet," and has to guide it across a scrolling terrain, battling obstacles along the way. The ship is armed with a forward-firing weapon and bombs; each weapon has its own button. The player must avoid colliding with the terrain and other enemies, while simultaneously maintaining its limited fuel supply which diminishes over time. More fuel can be acquired by destroying fuel tanks in the game.

The game is divided into six sections, each with a different style of terrain and different obstacles. There is no intermission between each section; the game simply scrolls into the new terrain. Points are awarded based upon the number of seconds of being alive, and on destroying enemies and fuel tanks. In the final section, the player must destroy a "base". Once this has been accomplished, a flag denoting a completed mission is posted at the bottom right of the screen. The game then repeats by returning to the first section once more, with a slight increase in difficulty.


  • Per second the jet is in play: 10 points
  • Rockets: 50 points on ground, 80 in air
  • UFO ships: 100 points
  • Fuel tanks: 150 points
  • Mystery targets: 100, 200, or 300 points
  • Base at ends of levels: 800 points

The player is awarded an extra jet for scoring 10,000 points, and none more thereafter. Jets are lost upon contact with anything. Play continues to the last jet destroyed, which ends the game.

Handheld versions[edit]

A dedicated Tomytronic version of Scramble was released in 1982. A second electronic tabletop version of Scramble was released the same year in the UK by Grandstand[4] under licence from Japanese firm Epoch Co., who sold the game in Japan under the title Astro Command.[5] Gameplay differs from the arcade version as no scenery is rendered and the ship has no need to refuel. A handheld compact LCD version known as "Pocket Scramble" was released the following year. Scramble was also made available on the 2006 Game Boy Advance cartridge, "Konami Collector Series Arcade Advanced", this version is a very close port of the original game in the arcade cabinet.


Scramble was commercially successful and critically acclaimed. In its February 1982 issue, Computer and Video Games magazine said it "was the first arcade game to send you on a mission and quickly earned a big following."[6] In the United States, the game topped the monthly RePlay arcade charts in June 1981.[7]

The Vectrex version was reviewed in Video magazine where it was praised for its fidelity to the original arcade game and was described as the favorite among Vectrex titles they had reviewed.[8]:120 The game's overlays were singled out, with reviewers commenting that "when you're really involved with a Vectrex game like Scramble, it's almost possible to forget that the program is in black-and-white."[8]:32 David H. Ahl of Creative Computing Video & Arcade Games reported in 1983 that no test player was able to get past the fourth level of the Vectrex version.[9]

In 1982, Arcade Express gave the Tomytronic version of the game a score of 9 out of 10, describing it as an "engrossing" game that "rates as one of the year's best so far."[10]

Scramble made the list of Top 100 arcade games in the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition.[citation needed]


According to the Nintendo Game Boy Advance Gradius Advance intro and the Gradius Breakdown DVD included with Gradius V, Scramble is considered the first in the Gradius series. However, the Gradius Collection guidebook issued a few years after by Konami, lists Scramble as part of their shooting history, and the Gradius games are now listed separately.

An updated version of Scramble is available in Konami Collector's Series: Arcade Advanced by inputting the Konami Code in the game's title screen. This version allows three different ships to be chosen: the Renegade, the Shori, and the Gunslinger. The only difference between the ships besides their appearance are the shots they fire. The Renegade's shots are the same as in the original Scramble, the Shori has rapid-fire capabilities triggered by holding down the fire button, and the Gunslinger's shots can pierce through enemies, meaning they can be used for multiple hits with a single shot.



The Atari 8-bit family games Airstrike[11] (1982) and Bellum[12] (1983) are both Scramble clones. Skramble (1983) is a clone for the Commodore 64.[13] Whirlybird Run (1983) is a TRS-80 Color Computer clone.[14]

Legal history[edit]

In Stern Electronics, Inc. v. Kaufman, 669 F.2d 852, the Second Circuit held that Stern could copyright the images and sounds in the game, not just the source code that produced them.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Stern Production Numbers and More CCI Photos". 1 May 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  2. ^ "Scramble arcade video game pcb by Konami Industry (1981)". Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  3. ^ Game Genres: Shmups[permanent dead link], Professor Jim Whitehead, January 29, 2007, Accessed June 17, 2008
  4. ^ "Grandstand Scramble". Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  5. ^ "Grandstand Scramble". Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  6. ^ "Home page of Arttu". Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  7. ^ Kubey, Craig (1982). The Winners' Book of Video Games. New York: Warner Books. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-446-37115-5.
  8. ^ a b Kunkel, Bill; Katz, Arnie (October 1982). "Arcade Alley: The First Portable Video Game System". Video. Reese Communications. 6 (7): 32, 118–120. ISSN 0147-8907.
  9. ^ Ahl, David H. (Spring 1983). "The Vectrex Arcade System". Creative Computing Video & Arcade Games. p. 56.
  10. ^ "The Hotseat: Reviews of New Products" (PDF). Arcade Express. 1 (1): 6–7 [6]. August 15, 1982. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  11. ^ Salm, Walter (February 1983). "Airstrike". Electronic Fun with Computers & Games. 1 (4): 64.
  12. ^ "Bellum". Atari Mania.
  13. ^ Skramble at Lemon 64
  14. ^ Boyle, L. Curtis. "Whirlybird Run". Tandy Color Computer Games.
  15. ^ Brandon Rash. "Case: Stern Elec. v. Kaufman (2nd Cir. 1982)". Patent Arcade. Retrieved 2006-09-16.

External links[edit]