iPhone It In: Cobra Command

The iPhone is the best thing to happen to FMV games since ... well, I can't think of anything good to happen to FMV games in the last ten years or so. Basically, the iPhone is one of the first portable platforms able to store and play the high-quality video that games like Dragon's Lair are known for -- and FMV games usually have uncomplicated enough control schemes to survive the transition to the iPhone intact.

Cobra Command is actually a bit more complex than your average Dragon's Lair type game, but it works just fine with the iPhone's controls. It's also the most '80s thing you'll ever experience.
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Everything about it is as indicative of the decade as could possibly be imagined: from the early-anime aesthetic to the screaming synth-and-guitar music to, well, the basic fact that it is a game whose graphics are made up of hand-drawn animation, playing this game is a time machine that takes you immediately to 1984.

Cobra Command, originally developed and published for arcades by Data East, simulates flying a helicopter and shooting down squads of enemy helicopters, piloted by a terrorist group set on destroying the world (and on flying way too close to the Statue of Liberty). Instead of merely tapping directional buttons in response to cues, you shoot down these helicopters and other assorted vehicles by aiming a targeting reticle with the touch screen, and then firing your guns or missiles. You also have to move the helicopter in response to traditional directional prompts.

Developer Revolutionary Concepts has cleaned up the game for the new release significantly, adding new cockpit and missile graphics, and a control scheme that works, for the most part, fine. There are a few issues: most importantly, just don't ever bother turning on the option to steer the helicopter by tilting. The targeting reticle also doesn't seem to move far enough in response to your thumb movements, forcing you to pick up your thumb and place it again to get all the way from one side of the screen to the other -- like when your mouse hits the edge of the mousepad. This is especially annoying when you have to move the cursor all the way to one side of the screen to steer the helicopter. [Update: Revolutionary Concepts noted that you can use fully half of the screen, and not just the virtual joypad area, to steer.

Other than that control issue, Cobra Command is a delightfully cheesy experience. I'm grateful the iPhone exists, to give developers both a platform and motivation to port over these FMV games, and then sell them to me directly over the internet.

Cobra Command ($4.99): Cobra Command

This article was originally published on Joystiq.