Scramble Review

Scramble on the 360 is a faithful rendition of the original arcade game. If that alone doesn't get you excited, you should probably take a pass.

At this point, Scramble's a name you've probably never heard of unless you were spending a lot of time in arcades in the years following the game's 1981 release. It's a side-scrolling space shooter that, upon further inspection, was probably a big inspiration to Gradius. The screen scrolls to the right, and you can shoot or drop bombs. It's not as replayable as some of the other games available for Xbox Live Arcade, but it's still a fine emulation of the original with decent optional graphical updates.

Scramble's levels are short and not too difficult once you get used to them.
Scramble's levels are short and not too difficult once you get used to them.

Scramble puts you in a spaceship, and you fly over five levels of action, plus a final base level. You have two weapons at your disposal. A fast-firing forward shot lets you take out anything directly in front of you, and you can also drop bombs. Most of your targets are on the ground, so the game is all about trying to get low enough to easily wipe out targets with your front shot and firing off bombs when you're too high to strafe. The later levels get more difficult by throwing in a few hovering spaceships or some indestructible fireballs, but thanks to the constant speed of the scrolling screen, you'll cruise right through the game's levels in what feels like a few minutes, provided you don't die. But, then, that's the rub. Parts of Scramble can be tough your first few times playing, especially the tricky maze sequences that fill the fifth level.

Like other Xbox Live Arcade updates, Scramble offers updated graphics and sound that make the game look slightly more modern. Of course, it's still a 2D side-scrolling shooter. The graphical and sound updates are OK, but nothing here is great. If you prefer, you can disable one or both of the updates and go back to the original look and sound of Scramble. Like Konami's other Xbox Live Arcade games, Scramble has an odd multiplayer mode that's playable online. Both players play on separate, side-by-side screens and don't interact at all. In versus mode, the player with the highest score wins. In cooperative mode, your scores are combined. In either mode, though, the game lags quite a bit, making the movement of the game stutter.

Like any Xbox 360 game, Scramble has achievement points to earn. You'll get points for finishing each level, getting a co-op score of 30,000 points, getting through the game without dying, and so on. The first half of the game's 200 points is easy to earn, though the rest will take at least a little bit of perseverance.

Should you buy Scramble? That depends on you, really. If you're the sort of person that remembers Scramble or just loves to play any old arcade game, this one plays well. But once you get good at it, Scramble is over almost as soon as it begins and might not hold your attention for very long.

The Good

  • Faithful re-creation of the original game

The Bad

  • Online modes are laggy
  • it's short

About the Author

Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.


First Released Mar 16, 1981
  • Arcade Games
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PlayStation 2
  • PlayStation 4
  • Tomy Tutor
  • Vectrex
  • Windows Mobile
  • Xbox 360


Average Rating

182 Rating(s)

Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
Mild Fantasy Violence