Super Cobra

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Super Cobra / スーパーコブラ
MSX cover art
Parker Brothers
  • NA: Parker Brothers
Platform(s)Arcade, Adventure Vision, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, Colecovision, Intellivision, MSX, Odyssey², Sord M5, PV-1000
March 1981
  • Arcade
    • JPN: March 1981
    • NA: June 22, 1981
    Sord M5
    Adventure Vision
    Atari 2600
    Atari 5200
    Atari 8-bit
Genre(s)Scrolling shooter
Mode(s)1-2 players alternating turns
Arcade systemKonami Scramble

Super Cobra[a] is a horizontally scrolling shooter developed by Konami, originally released as an arcade video game in 1981. It was published by Konami in Japan in March 1981[1] and manufactured and distributed by Stern in North America on June 22.[2][3] It is the spiritual sequel to the Scramble arcade game released earlier in 1981. Super Cobra contains eleven distinct sections, versus six in Scramble, and is significantly more difficult, requiring maneuvering through tight spaces early in the game.

The game was a commercial success, selling 12,337 arcade cabinets in the United States within four months, becoming Stern's third best-selling arcade game. Super Cobra was widely ported by Parker Brothers, and there are Adventure Vision and standalone versions from Entex.


The player controls a helicopter through tight caverns, and the slightest misstep will result in the loss of a life, but unlike Scramble, the game can be continued where the player left off by adding more credits and pressing FIRE (but he/she loses all points upon continuing).[b]

The joystick accelerates, decelerates, moves up, and moves down. The helicopter uses a laser and bomb to destroy defenders, tanks, and UFOs while infiltrating 10 Super Cobra defense systems.[4]

The ship has a limited fuel supply, which is depleted over time. More fuel can be acquired by destroying fuel tanks in the game.[4]

The game is divided into ten sections, plus a finale, each with a different style of terrain and different obstacles. Players navigate through ten levels and a base, where they must safely make it through the level and remove the booty. The levels are described as follows:[4]

  1. Player must maneuver the chopper over mountainous terrain against fast and slow firing rockets.
  2. Chopper faces Arcing missiles over a mountain terrain.
  3. Smart Bombs flying in groups of four over mountainous terrain. Rockets appear, but do not fire.
  4. Single Smart Bombs over mountainous terrain. Again, Rockets appear, but do not fire.
  5. Chopper flies through a cavern-like terrain against falling mines.
  6. Rapidly firing, roving tanks over mountainous terrain. Rockets appear, but do not fire.
  7. Maneuver through a field of meteors which explode when hit with bombs or 3 times with laser, plus a single, green, shadow meteor directly in front of chopper which explodes when hit five times with laser. Rockets appear but do not fire.
  8. Chopper flies over mountainous terrain against rapidly firing UFOs. Tanks and rockets appear, but do not fire.
  9. Chopper faces arcing missiles over tall buildings.
  10. Firing rockets in a building maze.
  11. Base: Player must maneuver the chopper over tall buildings against arcing missiles and rapidly firing tanks to reach the Booty and safely carry it away. If the mission is successful, an extra copter is given (plus one when 10,000 points are scored).

There is no intermission between each section; the game simply scrolls into the new terrain. If the player destroys the booty on the final level, he/she must start back at the beginning of the level.

If the booty is safely carried away, the player starts back at the beginning of the first level and the cycle repeats. On the second time through the levels, the tanks fire much more aggressively and fuel is consumed much faster. On the third and subsequent times through the levels, fuel is consumed still faster. The faster rate of fuel consumption on the second and subsequent cycles may make it difficult to complete those cycles without losing at least one chopper due to running out of fuel, although this is compensated somewhat by awarding an extra chopper each time a cycle is completed and the booty is carried away.


The game was ported to the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, ColecoVision, Intellivision, Odyssey², and Atari 8-bit computers by Parker Brothers. It was also released for Sord M5, MSX, Entex Adventure Vision and Casio PV-1000. Entex produced a standalone tabletop version.[5]


The game was a commercial success, selling 12,337 arcade cabinets in the United States within four months, by October 2, 1981, becoming Stern's third best-selling arcade classic after Berzerk and Scramble. Scramble sold 15,136 cabinets in the U.S. in five months earlier that year, adding up to 27,473 U.S. cabinet sales for both.[3]

Arcade Express in November 1982 gave the Adventure Vision port a score of 9 out of 10. They concluded that it "takes real skill to master, and represents the state-of-the-art of scrolling shoot-outs".[6]

The Atari 2600 version was awarded a Certificate of Merit in the category of "Best Action Videogame" at the 5th annual Arkie Awards for 1983.[8]: 42  They compared it to Vanguard and said it "provides the same brand of relentless, multi-scenario action".[9]


Super Cobra appeared alongside Scramble on the retro compilation Konami Arcade Classics, released for the Sony PlayStation in 1999.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ スーパーコブラ (Sūpā Kobura) in Japanese[1]
  2. ^ This option will cease to be available after continuing 4 times in the original Konami version (or 255 in the Stern-licensed version), and can be disabled entirely for operators who dislike it by changing a DIP switch setting.


  1. ^ a b "スーパーコブラ まとめ [アーケード]" [Super Cobra Summary (Arcade)]. Famitsu (in Japanese). Enterbrain, Inc., Tokuma. Retrieved 2018-07-25.
  2. ^ "Overseas Readers Column - Konami Industry Grants a License on "Super Cobra" to 3 Foreign Companies". Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 173. Amusement Press, Inc. 15 September 1981. p. 31.
  3. ^ a b "Stern production numbers and more CCI photos". Tokens Only. 2012-05-01. Retrieved 2013-07-21.
  4. ^ a b c Stern. Super Cobra Manual (PDF). p. 3. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  5. ^ "Entex Arcade Defender and Super Cobra Handhelds". Retroist. May 3, 2013. Archived from the original on September 3, 2018. Retrieved May 2, 2016.
  6. ^ a b "The Hotseat: Reviews of New Products" (PDF). Arcade Express. November 7, 1982. pp. 6–8 [6]. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
  7. ^ "Critically Speaking..ColecoVision-Compatible" (PDF). Computer Entertainer. Vol. 2, no. 10. January 1984. p. 150.
  8. ^ a b Kunkel, Bill; Katz, Arnie (January 1984). "Arcade Alley: The Arcade Awards, Part 1". Video. 7 (10). Reese Communications: 40–42. ISSN 0147-8907.
  9. ^ Kunkel, Bill; Katz, Arnie (January 1984). "1984 Arcade Awards". Electronic Games. 2 (11). Reese Communications: 71–72. ISSN 0730-6687.

External links[edit]