Scramble (video game)

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Scramble Arcade flyer
North American promotional flyer for Scramble
Developer(s) Konami
Western Technologies
  • NA: GCE
  • EU: Compu-Games A/S
Platform(s) Arcade (original)
Tomy Tutor, Vectrex
Release Arcade
Tomy Tutor
Genre(s) Horizontal scrolling shooter
Mode(s) Up to 2 players, alternating turns
Cabinet Upright
Arcade system Konami Scramble
CPU Zilog Z80 @ 3.072MHz
Zilog Z80 @ 1.78975MHz
SoundAY-3-8910 @ 1.78975MHz
Display Raster, 224 × 256, vertical orientation

Scramble (スクランブル, Sukuranburu) is a 1981 side-scrolling shoot 'em up arcade game. 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 Konami Scramble arcade system board hardware uses two Zilog Z80 microprocessors for the central processing unit, two AY-3-8910 sound chips for the sound,[4] and Namco Galaxian video hardware for the graphics.[5][6]

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 sequel, 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 versions for the Tomy Tutor and Vectrex. Several unauthorized clones for the VIC-20 and Commodore 64 used the same name as the original.


The player controls an 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).
  • Bases to end levels (800 points).

An extra life is earned for every 10,000 points scored, and unlike future Konami games, this cannot be changed nor disabled.

Reception and legacy[edit]

Scramble was commercially successful and critically acclaimed in its time. 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."[7] The Vectrex version of the game was also praised in a review by Video magazine where reviewers praised its fidelity to the original arcade game and described it as their favorite among the Vectrex titles they had reviewed.[8]:120 The game's overlays were singled out for praise, 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 dedicated 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] A second electronic tabletop version of Scramble was released in 1982 in the UK by Grandstand[11] under licence from Japanese firm Epoch Co., who sold the game in Japan under the title Astro Command.[12] 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.

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.

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


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.[13]

Notes and references[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, Professor Jim Whitehead, January 29, 2007, Accessed June 17, 2008
  4. ^ Scramble at the Killer List of Videogames
  5. ^[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "mame: MAME". 4 January 2018. Retrieved 5 January 2018 – via GitHub. 
  7. ^ "Home page of Arttu". Retrieved 5 January 2018. 
  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. ^ "Grandstand Scramble". Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  12. ^ "Grandstand Scramble". Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  13. ^ Brandon Rash. "Case: Stern Elec. v. Kaufman (2nd Cir. 1982)". Patent Arcade. Retrieved 2006-09-16. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]