Reviewed: October 28, 2006
Released: September 13, 2006
Scramble is another 80ís arcade classic that has made its way to the Xbox Live Arcade. Iím not sure what the selection criteria is for determining which coin-op systems make it onto the 360, but this is probably one game that should have stayed in the 80ís. The graphics and sound might have been given a minor update but the gameplay screams 1981.
Scramble is the 2D predecessor to games like Zaxxon where you are charged with flying a ship over terrain and city landscapes firing forward at airborne targets while making precision bombing runs on ground targets. Just about everything in this game is out to get you, and the only non-hostile target are the numerous fuel tanks scattered about the terrain. Youíll need to blow these up to keep that rapidly diminishing fuel gauge filled and avoid crashing.
Bombs are significantly affected by your ship speed, so you can force them out at a greater arc by increase speed or drop them nearly vertical by slamming on the brakes. This plays into several of the more challenging levels where key targets are tucked away in nooks. On rare instances you can swoop down and skim the uneven surface to make strafing runs.
The 360 version of Scramble offers split-screen multiplayer with versus and co-op modes and even supports play over Xbox live. As I am finding with most of these online XBLA games, the multiplayer is choked full of lag making them frustrating to downright unplayable.
In all fairness, Digital Eclipse has done a nice job with the visual facelift for Scramble. In case you forgot what the original looks like here is a glimpse into the past. You can even choose to play the game in the classic 80ís style, but the new hand-painted models, particle explosions, and colorful new scrolling backgrounds are a visual treat.
There is no HD support, but the game does fill in the sides of your widescreen TV with some nice blue shading, which seems like a cop out when most of these other retro games are filling in their borders with updated cabinet artwork. Then again, for a game youíll only be spending an hour or two playing, why put in any extra effort?
There are plenty of rocket and bomb sounds followed by even more explosions, but there is a disturbing lack of music or any other sound for that matter when Iím not firing my weapons Ė not that that happens very often or for very long.
Scramble was an exciting game back in 1981 but it quickly became replaced with bigger and more inventive games, even in that same decade. Given the simplistic gameplay and the incredibly short duration of the game, itís hard to justify dropping the equivalent of $5 for a game you can quite literally beat and earn all 200 Achievement Points in 60-90 minutes. Unless you are trying to dominate every XBLA leaderboard out there, Iíd skip this title.
If you really loved Scramble back in the 80ís or just need 200 more points added to your gamer score go ahead and purchase this game. For everyone else, the trial download is more than enough to satisfy your curiosity at what they might have done to the graphics and sound. The sixty minutes it takes to finish the five short levels isnít worth the investment.