Review: Cobra Triangle (NES)

By Drew Wilson

Cobra Triangle is an action game where players control a speedboat through obstacles and enemies all the while attempting to complete courses in a limited amount of time. Even by today’s standards, it’s a unique kind of game.

Cobra Triangle was released in 1989 for the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System).

The player controls a speedboat and must deal with enemy fire from other boats, various turrets, sharks, heat seeking missiles and a whole host of obstacles including logs, land that must be jumped over, whirlpools and narrow passages to name a few.

When a player is able to complete a level – frequently a dotted line that is designated as the finish line – the boat will extend a helicopter-like propeller from the roof and the boat flies to the next level.

There’s various kinds of missions in this game. These missions can include a simple race to the finish line, disposing of mines, guarding men and navigating obstacle courses. The player will also be able to play bonus levels to increase the number of pods that are used to enable various power ups. These power-ups can include a speed boost, increasing the overall speed of the boat, missiles, an upgrade to the main weapon and a force field which offers temporary resistance to damage.

When I was playing this game, I wondered why the concepts that were put in play were not really expanded on a whole lot in future games. I’ve played the odd boat-related games that were since released, but they were typically merely racing games and bared little resemblance to this particular game. This ultimately means that this game remains to be one of those unique games you’ll not really get from any other game.

Perhaps one downside to this game is that there’s really only one difficulty. While the game is relatively straight forward at the beginning, later levels can prove to be particularly challenging. The effect of this is that few players will ever see the ending of this game (the game is 30 levels long).

The positive part is that while there are level types that are repeated, what the player get’s to try and beat is constantly evolving. For instance, the first bomb disposal level is simply a few bombs that are taken to another floating ring. The second bomb disposal retains this concept, only introducing an island the player has to navigate around. The third bomb disposal level also features a whirlpool that is constantly circling around the disposal area which complicates things further. So, while there are repeated themes throughout the level, it doesn’t really get tiring save for the fact that you are probably constantly dying throughout the game.

You get three lives and three continues. So, that means you really get 9 lives total. While that sounds like a lot of a game that is only 30 levels long, you’ll eventually wish you had more lives because by the time you get to around level 10, the game requires extremely quick reflexes and quick improvisation. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself either sinking in the water, blowing up, or falling down into one of the series of physics defying waterfalls because you missed a moving ramp. So, if you are a casual gamer, even if you use cheat codes, don’t anticipate on seeing the ending without a great deal of challenge.

A minor quibble about this game is that there are glitches in this game. The most notable is that the enemy boats in the bomb disposal levels can get stuck behind one of the islands. This can mean that even if you evade the free boat, the other boat can just suddenly appear from the other direction and steal your mine before you have much time to react.

The graphics are quite well done for a game released in the late 80’s. Considering the console and technological limitations, I count myself pretty impressed with even the subtle graphics like the boat leaning in turns, the level of detail of logs that only appear for a moment and the enemies constantly moving around in the screen.

The music is also quite well done. Even though the songs repeat on certain levels, they offer an additional layer of creating a thematic environment. The songs can range from a frantic pace to a slow pace. The only thing I thought was less than stellar about the music was that boss levels feature some laid back music when I would have expected something, I don’t know, more. I’m undecided as to whether or not this was a good unique feature for the game or just an awkward mismatch between level music and what’s going on in those boss levels. Sound effects, however, were top notch.

Overall, I’d say this is a decent game. If you are up for a game with a lot of challenge and a requirement of strategy, then I’d say this game is a good choice to test your reflexes.

Furthest point made it in game: Level 13.

General gameplay: 17/25
Replay value: 5/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 76%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85

1 Comment

  • Mountainrage says:

    Loved this game as a kid, can’t remember how far I got but I think it was level 18. Should of never sold my NES to make money for a N64. Oh well live and learn.

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