Cosmo Fighter 2
Review by Bruce Consolazio
|Even though this game only recently became available for sale, the
strange part is this: I've had this game- on cartridge- since 1998. It was an unusual
situation, and occurred only shortly after I became aware that not only were there far
more ColecoVision games than I ever knew of, but amazingly enough, there were new ones for
it. At that time, I knew almost nothing about "homebrew games."
Cosmo Fighter 2 is a game along the lines of Gorf: you fight through several screens of enemies, facing a "boss" at the end, before starting again at the beginning, at a higher level of difficulty.
When you first plug this game in, you are treated to an extremely impressive set of title screens, which include scoring, programming information, and the story behind this game. It's typical enough: an evil force threatens a planet (Xunor), and only your Cosmo Fighters can confront it. You must battle the three different waves of enemies, and then defeat their giant leader.
You are given a choice of three difficulty levels to begin with, and they are Beginner (Hard), Intermediate (Harder), and Expert (Are You Serious?). Once you start the game, your multi-colored fighter appears at the bottom of the screen. It can fire several shots at once, but can only move left or right. The screen is filled with downward-scrolling stars, large flashing stars, and single-colored mini-planets, all of which scroll down in three planes, is confusing at first, but is also very beautiful.
You are immediately attacked by the first wave of enemies: many small, single-colored green birds, looking somewhat like the big War birds from Phoenix, or maybe small demons. They descend by moving in a sort of unpredictable zigzag pattern, and they are not at all reluctant to shoot, albeit somewhat randomly.
During this time, you are also being attacked by two other opponents: spinning golden bars that rain down from the top of the screen and swerve toward you; and a large blue craft, looking a bit like a downward-facing Millennium Falcon, which always moves swiftly from left to right across the top of the screen, dropping one VERY fast red bomb as it passes over you. These two foes continue to attack you throughout the three different attack phases, until you reach the Boss at the end of the round.
This first part is rather lengthy, and you will soon discover that this is a VERY difficult game indeed...in fact, it may be a number of games before you even get past this part. Once you do manage to get past here, you encounter the next set of enemies.
This is where I have some trouble with rating this game. This is an outer space battle, and although one expects some weird enemies, even the insects in Galaga have a certain logic about them. But the enemies you encounter here are really, really, REALLY strange: springs. Springs exactly like the ones from Donkey Kong.
They bounce from left to right at the bottom of the screen, in a mindless fashion, hoping to smite you under them. You can shoot them or dodge them, but they are dangerous either way, especially with the blue ship and rods attacking you the whole time.
Once past here, you encounter lines of purple creatures, which resemble downward facing glider-planes, which move from right to left in a sine wave, each dropping a single bomb on you as they pass overhead. After about four such attacks, several springs will also appear, making this one of the most difficult parts of the game. As before, the blue ships and rods continue to plaque you, making it a total of four enemies to contend with.
Once you make it past here (not an easy thing to do), you face the game's Big Boss. This is a huge green hexagon, with eerie tiny golden eyes, two yellow legs at either side, and a third red leg center. It looks a bit like a child's play table in its basic shape.
The yellow legs are able to shoot straight down, while the center leg can shoot diagonal down as well as straight down. The entire enemy moves around, and periodically comes all the way down, trying to crush you under it: sometimes straight down, sometimes diagonal down. To defeat it, you must either shoot all three legs, or avoid it long enough. Either way, it moves off the top of the screen, the playfield accelerates, and you begin again.
At several points throughout the rounds, a single-colored yellow craft moves left to right across the top of the screen; shooting it yields a bonus fighter. These always come out at the same times.
Since I've had this game for eight years, you'd think that rating it would be easy. It isn't. On the one hand, there are enough things about it that I like which prevents me from not recommending it, yet, enough about it that I don't like that...
First of all, it is obvious that Marcel de Kogel, the programmer, is VERY competent with ColecoVision programming. The smooth-scrolling background of colorful stars occurs in not one but two planes, some faster than others. The planets and flashing stars are like a third plane, and not only isn't this something you'd expect on a ColecoVision, it's something you'd think a Sega Master System might have trouble with! The action is smooth and nicely done, and the Boss at the end is large and moves much better than the one in Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom. Much better, in fact.
Graphics, overall, are good, but several of them, such as the green enemies and the yellow "EXTRA" ship, are simplistic, looking like something out of an Atari VCS game. Your fighter, however, is every bit as good as any from the Galaga era, the scrolling playfield is impossible to not be impressed with, and the amount of on-screen motion, with very little flickering, makes it clear that the ColecoVision was capable of doing much more than it usually showed.
The sound, while scarce, is as good as most such games in the early 1980s, especially your shots and the sound of the falling golden rods. The green creatures have electronic chirps, and your shots sound almost like gunshots. Each enemy, in fact, has a particular sound. It's not exceptional, but it's good enough, overall.
The action is intense... maybe too much so. The game starts out difficult, even at the "Beginner" level, and soon becomes insanely so. If you are looking for a game that you will not find too easy, than this is it. The fact that there are four different attack stages makes it more interesting than some other such contests, and yet, at the same time, those springs are maybe just a bit too strange for this kind of a game.
Perhaps one of the biggest problems I have with this game is that it is no longer 1998, but 2006. If this had been 1998, then Id be able to recommend it because of the novelty of a new ColecoVision game from the mid-1990s. But this is 2006, and there are just too many other games- such as Opcodes Sky Jaguar and Space Invaders Collection, and Mr. de Kogels own Cosmo Fighter 3- to just recommend this one. Yet, I do like playing it.
The best I can do here is this: if you are a fan of all games Galaxian/Gorf style, if you like to collect all homebrews, especially one of the earliest, or if you just enjoy really weird games of this genre (such as Challenger, Red Clash, etc.), then you should probably consider it. If, on the other hand, you are trying to choose between this and a game such as Sky Jaguar, Cosmo Fighter 3, or Space Invaders Collection, then you should purchase one of the latter three.
* Keep firing. Youll frequently hit an enemy thats just appearing above you, but try to keep one shot handy at all times, in case something manages to get right above you.
* Remember that waves do not always end and then begin. The springs, for example, may start appearing while a few of the green enemies are still on-screen.
* The best way to hit a spring is to stay just ahead of it to the right, all the while shooting.
* When you reach the Big Boss, immediately move under the I and G of the words Cosmo Fighter 2, and start shooting. Taking out the red leg is vital, and this gives you the best chance of doing so.
* Remember that the blue ship and the purple enemies fire based on where you are. Also keep in mind that when shot, the blue ship drops its bomb immediately.
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