I almost didn’t cover Twin Cobra II, the 1995 shoot-em-up which happens to be the first game created by Takumi, one of the companies formed from the dust of Toaplan when they shut down in 1994. Although finished off by Takumi, most of the work was done while Toaplan was still active, which is why this game retains much of the spirit of its predecessor Twin Cobra and grandparent Tiger Heli. At first glance, there didn’t appear to be anything special to set this game apart from many I’d played before in the past. Then, as I often do,I played the game to see if there were any backgrounds or other graphics that I could extract (apart from the sweet helicopter/munitions image I’m using for the splash here), That’s when discovered something: there really is nothing special to set this game apart from many I’ve played before in the past and that’s okay.
Twin Cobra II is nothing more than a technologically updated take on games of the genre from the mid-to-late 80s, and it turns out that’s exactly what I was looking for today. The game offers pure, few-frills blow-it-up action, with no complex scoring mechanics or mental genius required to make the most of its mechanics. You have only three weapons, which can be upgraded only a few levels each, and lots of enemies to use them on. After the midpoint of the game, around the third stage, the challenge increases dramatically and the game heads into minor Bullet Hell territory, and that is something definitely to be aware of going in. The graphics here are clean, colorful and use subtle modern touches to separate themselves from ages gone by. For instance, the tilemap for every area is made up of three layers, but there’s no parallax scrolling; these layers are only there to provide depth to the field. Ground units like tanks will roll out from under treetops and become appropriately darkened when they move into the shadows cast by buildings—while everything in the air (including your helicopter) is unaffected. The soundtrack is really nice, with an impressive mix of slow, almost jazzy themes and faster. rock-inspired pieces. The sound balance is good as well; you can always hear the music even in the middle of unleashing fire on everything in sight.
The game isn’t without a couple of faults. The weapon selection is totally unbalanced; the green missile weapon is far and away the most useful in the game, since its heat-seeking ability counters the wide shot offered by the other two, and it does so much more damage than the others that using them makes killing enemies (especially the robust, multi-part bosses) almost a chore. Also, for the all the work you put in (and finishing this game is definitely hard), there’s no actual ending. I’m going to just spoil it here for you to avoid desk-slapping frustration: you’re only given a message that amounts to “Congratulations, you won” followed by “Game over” here. Even in spite of these qualms, Twin Cobra II is a nice demonstration of old-school ideas in a modern setting.
TAGS: Twin Cobra II Takumi arcade 1990s games