In the hallowed halls, offices, or whatever you call the various places on the Internet where the Xboxic crew
shout UNO-related obscenities at talk to each other, the subject came up of a Scramble review. Since I’m arguably the biggest Arcade fan on the team, my name came up, and I went off to download a game that I and my lack of Microsoft Points had paid no attention to. So then I have to ask, why is it that all the best Arcade games I end up buying, I never intend to buy in the first place?
Normally when I go about in this business of reviewing arcade ports on XBLA I complain that Frogger, Galaga, or Pac-Man (had I been home at the time) are not as good as the stuff on the arcades: too slow, not close enough to the original experience, where is the freaking multiplayer, things like that. Well, we don’t have that problem, because I can happily say that before I downloaded this game I do not remember ever playing Scramble before in my life. Therefore, I am free to judge this game on its own merits, which works out well for the game because I’m enjoying it quite a bit.
Scramble is a side-scrolling space shooter that was released by Konami in 1981 for the arcades. Playing is simple: A button fires your standard weapon that is not entirely unlike a laser, while B drops bombs onto lower-lying enemies and fuel tanks.
You’ll become accustomed to both if you’re a completist, because among achievements for clearing the game’s six levels, the typical Konami “Co-op Brilliance” (30,000 points in co-op) achievement, beating the game in one life, and destroying a set amount of buildings (”Mystery Objects”) and fuel stations, you’ll need to use the bombs by themselves and the main weapon by itself to score the entirety of the game’s 200 points. It’s fairly easy, actually, because in one night of playing I had seven of the twelve badges.
The game itself is quite fast-paced and very fun. After weaving your way out of an enemy-infested cave in Level 2, Level 3 is going to throw wave after wave after yet another wave of fireballs at you. You’ll have to keep your fuel meter up to keep the ship flying, but it’s not very hard to bomb one every now and then if you’re keeping an eye on the bar.
Holy moly, great balls of fire
As is the case with most non-Namco Arcade titles, this game features enhanced graphics. In the case of Scramble, they look like a high-end Flash game, especially with the explosions. The explosions look a bit out of place, but overall they do not detract from the overall experience, and the graphics look good. Screen size is adjustable, but on my 480i set I’m just fine with it as is. Sound, also, is just fine when it’s there; but it’s rather quiet and you’ll probably end up using your custom soundtrack.
As is also the case with most non-Namco Arcade titles, this game contains multiplayer. Konami, unfortunately, does not have any idea how to implement Live play, as evidenced in Frogger and recently, Time Pilot. In Konami’s online play, they shrink your screen and place it right next to that of your opponent. Forcing the poor Xbox 360 to render a twenty-five-year-old arcade game twice on one screen makes the whole system lag, and makes the online play a bit unfun.
All problems with the multiplayer aside, this game is lots of fun, especially if you’ve never played it before. The achievements are a bit easy, and lack of used screen space will wear on the nerves of any HD user. In addition, avoiding fireballs won’t be easy on a half-sized screen in a laggy multiplayer game. But, it’s 400 points, and one of the best if not the best ported game on the Arcade. I’d say buy, but you can always try first.
Final Score: 6 out of 10 - Average (how do we rank games?)
(Originally this game received a 7, but after talking it over with Nino and Rival, we decided a 6 was more appropriate. However, and as we’ve said before, it’s not the score; but how the reviewer arrived at it.)