Scramble! review (iPod/iPhone)

April 7, 2011

“Ain’t a hope in hell, nothing’s gonna bring us down,
The way we fly, five miles off the ground”

Note - some of these screen images are from my iPad. It looks fine at 2x

10 word description: Scramble. Miniature, touch-screen version of classic horizontal scrolling shooter.

Button positions are ok on an iPod. Relative touch control is mostly spot-on

10 word review: A great remake of one of my favourite early arcade games!

You will like this if you enjoy: Original Scramble, retro scrolling shooters, seeing a (very) old game that has aged remarkably well.

Graphical enhancements are subtle. It still looks just like Scramble.

The good news: Relative touch control is almost perfect for ship movement. Graphics have been enhanced without losing the look and feel of the original. For a remake (i.e. not emulated original) it plays remarkably similarly to the 1981 game. Latest update resolves audio/freezing issues and improves performance.

Anyone who remembers the meteors has the same nightmares as me.

The bad news: Minor stuff: On the last couple of levels it’s quite easy to crash due to sweaty finger syndrome. Touch control / adjustable response could possibly be slightly improved. Button placement isn’t perfect (for me on my iPad, but this is not an iPad or universal game so that doesn’t really count) – an option to move the buttons around would be great. Occasionally you accidentally pause the game by toucing the lower part of the screen near the fuel bar.  

Reaching this point was always a relief - no more meteors!

Arcadelife verdict: I used to play Scramble in a cafe called Ascari’s. We called it “Ask Gary’s” and I remember getting thrown out once but I can’t remember exactly why. You may be thinking this has nothing to do with a review of an iPhone game, but I’m afraid it does. Sometimes you will hear a song playing and it will remind you, possibly subconsciously, of a place or a person, maybe a smell or a particular emotion. I get the same thing from some old videogames. Scramble is one of them. This remake is so close to the original that I get the same weird subliminal flashbacks that I get playing ‘real’ Scramble on MAME.

You get fuel by ... destroying fuel containers. See, videogames don't have to be logical or realistic.

The relative touch control to move the ship is great. It’s possibly a tiny bit too responsive and I think I can implicate it in several crashes that were otherwise not my fault at all, honest! Seriously, the last couple of levels are tough – flying with almost pixel perfect precision through very narrow tunnels – and any slight error in sliding your finger around is highly likely to end in disaster.

Disaster. And so close, too.

I like the graphics. An option to go 100% retro and have identical original Scramble graphics would be nice but I don’t really miss the original graphics. These graphics are ok; let’s stick with them. The sounds are good too. There’s a ‘training’ mode and online leaderboard. 

Start making a list of all the games that this inspired...

To summarise, it’s a very good copy of the original game. It seemed a bit easier to me, particularly the meteor section which used to be a real nightmare. It’s still not a complete breeze; the last two levels need total concentration and quite a bit of skill, and I’m only talking about the first run through. Apparently it does get harder on subsequent missions. If you liked the original, I can pretty much guarantee you will enjoy this version. If you’re an interested iPad owner, it looks and plays ok on an iPad, even though it’s not universal, but the button placement isn’t ideal on the bigger screen. Good remake, great to see old classics like this appearing on the i-devices.

Arcadelife rating: 80/100

Version reviewed by Arcadelife is 1.3

iTunes link

SOMA web site link

Arcadelife played and reviewed this game on:
3rd gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.1)
4th gen iPod Touch (OS 4.3.1)
iPad (OS 4.3.1) – Yes, I did. It plays great on an iPad. You should buy it.

One comment

  1. this is the best app I’ve found in the 2 weeks since I got an ipad. wtf are people doing on twitter and facebook when there is great shit like this to waste time on. nice review

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