written by David Steffen

Scramble is a side-scrolling shooter game published as an arcade machine by Konami in 1981.

The controls are very similar to other games of its type (many of which were inspired by this directly or indirectly). A joystick to move, and two fire buttons–one for quick forward shots and another for slower falling bombs. The object is to stay alive by avoiding terrain and destroying or avoiding enemy craft, but you also need to maintain your fuel supply or your ship will fall to its doom, which you do by attacking fuel tanks on the ground.

I played this game for the first time at the Game Changers exhibit at the Minnesota Science Museum.

Decent for their time

They’re okay.

Very challenging, especially the fuel aspect of it. Without that you could probably just avoid things entirely much of the time, but many of the fuel tanks are inconveniently placed so that you have to try to bomb them which is difficult to time correctly because the bombs are so slow.

No particular story (not that that’s unusual for an arcade game from this era).

Session Time
Depends on how good you are. An average player, probably a couple minutes.

Easy to understand, hard to master the timing of the bombs.

Like most old arcade games, they did get replayed alot, with the goal being to get further and further and get higher scores, but not really replayable in the usual sense I mean this, since the game starts completely from scratch when you start playing.

It is based around a familiar type of game but with rule rewriting system I’ve never seen before, ends up making it a whole new kind of game.

I haven’t finished yet, so I’m really not sure, if you like this kind of game you could put in many hours trying to perfect it.

This is a fun side-scrolling space shooter game, which even if you haven’t played you might have played other games in the same style that came later like Gradius III (also by Konami), though it’s simpler in some ways than those the added challenge of needing to collect fuel adds an interesting twist to it that I haven’t seen in other games and forces the player to perfect their timing with the bomb attack. There have been some re-releases of this game, including as part of a downloadable Konami collection on Steam for $20, bundled with 7 other Konami games

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David Steffen

David Steffen is an editor, publisher, and writer. If you like what he does you can visit the Support page or buy him a coffee! He is probably best known for being co-founder and administrator of The Submission Grinder, a donation-supported tool to help writers track their submissions and find publishers for their work . David is also the editor-in-chief here at Diabolical Plots. He is also the editor and publisher of The Long List Anthology: More Stories From the Hugo Award Nomination List series. David also (sometimes) writes fiction, and you can follow on BlueSky for updates on cross-stitch projects and occasionally other things.

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