Cobra the Arcade Hands-On

Namco shows off its new shooting game based on the classic Cobra manga series.


At last year's Amusement Machine Show in Japan, Namco first announced its development of Cobra the Arcade, a new gun-shooting game that's based on the classic 1980's sci-fi manga series of the same name. We were hoping to see it in action during the Amusement Operator's Union Show six months earlier, but with the game apparently trailing behind in development and delayed from an April release to November, it was only displayed as a brief trailer back then. Today, we finally had the chance to see it in action during this year's AM Show.

We were able to sample out the first stage in Cobra the Arcade, which started out from a demo scene where Cobra, the most wanted pirate in outer space, and his android partner, Armanoid Lady (who can be controlled by the second player), decide to pass through a huge casino on their way though a city. As Cobra and Armanoid Lady find out on their way in, the casino is operated by the Pirate's Guild, with which Cobra has a pretty bad relationship. Cobra pulls on his fake left arm to reveal his trademark "psycho gun," a beam cannon that uses his mental powers as its energy source. The demo then switched to the main game, where we used a gun shaped like Cobra's Psycho Gun to shoot enemies on the screen.

As it turns out, Cobra the Arcade plays on the same machine cabinet as Namco's popular Time Crisis series, which means there's a foot pedal on the machine. The game system is basically identical to Time Crisis; you hit the enemies on the screen by using your gun, and you dodge their attacks by using the foot pedal to hide behind objects. Hiding behind objects also lets you reload your gun when it's empty. When you defeat all the enemies in one area, you move on to the next area, sometimes with demo scenes to spice up the gameplay.

Together with the aesthetic change from traditional guns to Cobra's psycho gun, the game lets you shoot a homing attack on multiple enemies by holding on the trigger and passing the gun through targets before letting go. This lets you hit multiple enemies with one shot, and it also works as an effective way to advance through the stage safely, since you can target the enemies, release the trigger, and then hide with the foot pedal while the enemies suffer your charged-up wrath. This new feature is also helps for players with poor aim, since an indicator showing the location of your aim will appear while you're pulling on the trigger. You're limited to homing on three targets when you start out, but you can increase your target capacity, gun strength, and lock-on range as you play through the game. The game cabinet can read and write IC cards, which you can use for saving your status and continuing from the stage at which you left off.

Cobra the Arcade doesn't really introduce new gameplay mechanics, but it has an atmosphere that's unique to the original manga, complemented by the humorous but badass attitude of the main character. Fans of both the manga series and the Time Crisis game system should look forward to this game in the months to come.

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