1-2 players alternating
Scramble was an arcade game released in 1981. It was a scrolling shooter that put the player(s) in a series of areas with different landscapes to navigate through. The player(s)' jet could fire up to four missiles to the right side of the screen and drop up to two bombs at a time at ground targets. The player(s) needed to avoid being hit by various obstacles and keep an eye on their fuel level in order to get as far as possible into the game.
Scramble was ported to the Vectrex in 1982.
Player(s) control a ship that must infiltrate the five levels of the Scramble system and destroy the Base in the sixth.
The first level has the player over a hilly terrain. Players must dodge or destroy enemy missiles shot from the ground, along with Mystery bases and fuel tanks that will increase the player's fuel level.
The second level is inside a cavern, with the same targets of bases, rockets and fuel tanks that are found on the ground from the first level, although there is also a cavern ceiling and swarms of enemy U. F. O.s to contend with.
The player exits the cavern and is assaulted by a storm of flamoids in the third level. The flamoids are fast and indestructible and must be dodged; the same ground targets from the first two levels are also present as the player ducks for cover in these low-lying areas. The fourth level flies the player over a large metropolis. Missiles fire at the player from the tops of buildings and there are the usual ground targets present as well. The fifth level sends the player into tunnels, which can be difficult to navigate through and the only targets this time around are fuel tanks.
The final level pits the player on an attack run on the Base in a deep valley; after the destruction of the Base, the player begins again on the first level, which fuel is consumed faster and the rockets take off at a closer angle towards the player's ship.
- Choose between one or two players--button one
- Choose starting skill level--buttons two and three
- Start game--button four
- Move ship--joystick or D-pad
- Drop bombs--buttons one and three
- Fire missiles--buttons two and four
- Flying--10 points per second
- Missile--50 points on ground, 80 in air
- Fuel tank--150 points
- Mystery base--200 points
- U. F. O.--100 points
- Enemy base--850 points
- Bonus ship--10,000 points
There are three skill levels to choose from; the higher the starting level, the faster the fuel consumption, the launched rockets will aim for the player's ship, the U. F. O.s travel faster and the caverns are tighter in game three.
Differences between versionsEdit
Most of the differences are minor, such as a slight bomb trajectory difference and that the majority of the graphics are in vector for the Vectrex version (along with there being no color). The U. F. O.s in level two are proportionally bigger and slower than the arcade's version, thus being easier to hit, the Mystery bases score values are always 200 points, rather than being random on the original, there is a section in the fifth area where the player's bombs will pass through a cavern wall, which didn't happen with the original version, and the end base is wide open this time around, being much easier to bomb than on the arcade original.
(Note: there were two versions of the arcade game, one of which had the base nestled so low in a pit that the player would have to sacrifice a ship in order to destroy it, although the ship would be replaced though. In the second version, the base is in a different setting and easier to destroy, which this port follows that formula a bit closer.)
In late 2012, it became known that bassist Rudy Sarzo (who has played in the heavy metal/hard rock acts Dio, Whitesnake, and Quiet Riot, among others) had a Vectrex on Quiet Riot's tour bus, due to an ebay auction selling off the collection, one of which games included Scramble. The package also included an original controller, a Light Pen and a letter of authenticity of ownership.
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Arcade Scramble is known to be the first ever horizontal scrolling shooter. Manufactured by Konami in 1981, and distributed throughout the U.S. by Stern Electronics, Scramble helped spawn many varieties of the game across many platforms including the Vectrex. Tomy released a handheld Scramble in 1982 and the Commodore 64 received it's own Scramble called Skramble in 1983.
Scramble has been described as 'the poor man's defender' by many critics over the years though Scramble has had it's own fair share of influence inspiring such arcade games as Vanguard, R-Type and Gradius. (Coin-op.org 2003) Scramble has also had it's share of controversy when a 1982 Court Appeal saw Omni Video Games involved in copyright and trademark infringements with Stern Electronics.
In 1981 Scramble went to the top of the arcade money earners for that particular year and usurped such arcade classics as Pac-man, Defender and Asteroids. The game itself sees you piloting a rocket ship equipped with horizontal missiles and bombs which arc to the ground in front of you. What may be the most picturesque Vectrex game Scramble is set across six levels ranging from mountain combat with enemy craft, an encounter with UFO's in the cavern level, dodging 'flamoids',a maze level ,which proves to be rather tricky, and finally the enemy base.
In an unusual twist bombing enemy fuel tankers revives your ships' fuel. Fuel is a constant problem in Scramble and it may have turned out to be a better game without the refueling predicament. All in all a reasonably fun game which is much too difficult in parts to keep the gamer coming back for more. Find Scramble on ebay for around $25U.S..
Review written by Daniel Foot
This article was featured from January - February, 2019.