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Twin Cobra

Genre: Shmup Developer: Toaplan Publisher: Sega of America Players: 1 Released: 1991

The early 1990s was the time of the majority of arcade shmups being ported onto the Genesis by many different companies. Many Toaplan shooters were ported by many different companies that it’s just hard to remember all of them! Twin Cobra was no different; it was originally developed by Toaplan in the arcades and was officially ported by Treco and published in the U.S. by Sega. Just about all of Toaplan’s Genesis ports were great, but this one had a small following because today we don’t know how Sega made the game so much harder than its arcade counterpart!

You control a helicopter that flies through ten levels of shooter madness. You dodge bullets, destroy tons of enemies, and defeat the boss in each stage. The weapon system is noting new, but it works. A and C activate your bombs, and B is for your main weapon. A huge green helicopter known as the “power-up heli” carries a power-up for your helicopter. Destroy it and it’ll give you at least one of three power-ups: Power Up (upgrade weapon level), Weapon Changer, and Bomb (a short, powerful attack). While Power Up and Bomb are easy to figure out, the Weapon Change system is where you can change into one of four weapons. If you want to change into a different weapon, destroy a power-up heli that has the weapon changer and it will be moving around the screen. By order it goes: Missiles (Red, default weapon), Laser (Green), Spread-Shot (Blue), and 4-Way (Yellow). Missiles are the default weapon and have a good range with good fire power once you upgrade the weapon level to its highest. The Laser is powerful, but its range is very short. The Spread-Shot covers most of the screen, but it’s weak, and the 4-Way fires in four different directions, but it’s also weak as well.

Like other shmups of the era, the game has a medal system. Throughout the levels are many star medals. Collect them and defeat the boss for a good score bonus. The deal is that you must not get killed or else all the medals you collected will be lost. If you want to score high, collect a lot of star medals and don’t get killed.

Many shmup ports on the Genesis either carry the same level of difficulty as their arcade counterparts or are easier. The Genesis port of Twin Cobra breaks the trend. I don’t know what Treco did during the conversion, but the game plays way too hard for many experienced players! Somehow the A.I. knows where you’re going to go before you even move! When you move to that certain place, there will be a bullet hitting your ship! Even if you put the game difficulty on easy, the game is still too hard. There’re ten levels in Twin Cobra and I really don’t believe that anyone can get to level ten without using a Game Genie code. I played the arcade version of Twin Cobra and it was so much easier than the Genesis game. If you want to find out how hard this rendition is, play the arcade original for about an hour, and then go play the Genesis version for the same amount of time. You will probably agree that the Genesis port is extremely difficult. On the bright side, I forgot to mention that this is a checkpoint shooter, but that doesn’t change things much so good luck.

The graphics are average at best. While the animations were good, the color output can make Twin Cobra look ugly at times. The game looks washed out in RF and all the colors make the game look unimpressive. While the arcade version has some really good color output, Treco just added in enough colors to make the game playable. When playing, you could care less about the graphics, but from a certain standpoint it does looks ugly compared to the Japan-only TurboGrafx-16 port done by Taito.

The music is actually great and fits the theme of the levels very well. Despite the fact that there are only five stage tracks, just about all of them make your body “move through the bullets,” something you’ll be thankful for. The sound effects are also good and do their job very well. The explosions and bomb noises are clear as day and sound great. The best part is the helicopter take-off noise; it makes you feel pumped for the next level of shmup action!

Personally I loved the Genesis version of Twin Cobra. I still remember back when I was a kid how hard the game was and me screaming at the TV screen all the time. The game still gives me headaches from time to time due to its brutally difficulty. This is one of those shmups that make you want to throw the controller on the ground many times (better buy backup controllers!). Despite knowing that the TurboGrafx-16 port is a little better, I still go back to the Genesis port for its difficulty (hurt me!). Shmups fans might like it, but the rest you had been warned that it can cause headaches.

SCORE: 7 out of 10

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1 Comment

  1. GenesisShmupFan says:

    (Publisher actually shows as American Treco on the title screen.)

    There’s a lot to configure in the game: difficulty, number of lives, extra lives, what keys control shots and bombs, rapid fire on or off.

    I have some minor issues with the music in that they slurred the synth part of the music when they added the drums, especially the Over The Sea music. The arcade lacks the powerful drums but the synths are much more defined.

    My major issue is this: I personally think they broke the normal gameplay balance of Stage 5 and Stage 8 bosses. See, they cropped the screen to make it a panorama version instead of a vertical letterbox. For stage 5, that means some of the popup X-guns that got missed cannot actually be shot when the scrolling stops (too low for anything except for the four-way very weak yellow cannon but blue is best for the end of stage 5 boss). For stage 8, the lowest of the two bosses like on stage 2 is almost an inch away from where the helicopter nose would be when the scrolling stopped. I can’t pass that point, and after being sent back there isn’t enough firepower nor enough bombs to pass it.

    Everthing else is predictable enough. Green will always enter left and right, then pause before firing and charging in. Red enemy choppers seem to enter in the same places and get very close before firing, trying to ram, then spinning and going off screen. Blue and orange will always enter opposite the player chopper position (unless it’s in the middle then the enter left and right) before shooting or going for a direct ram (and orange will even go behind the player’s helicopter so watch the demo to see how they do it). Purple seems to have fixed entry points before going for a direct ram.

    Apparently “Twin Cobra” is actually a port of the single player version “Kyukyoku Tiger”. I play this game every few months or so and still haven’t finished past Easy B in one credit. They have four cheats for this Genesis game: see the ending cheat, stage select cheat, near maximum firepower cheat, max bombs cheat.

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