Cosmic Avenger is a groundbreaking arcade shooter first released in 1981 by Universal. It was one of the first ever side-scrolling shoot ’em ups, and was released the same year as Konami‘s Scramble.
Unlike in Scramble, in Cosmic Avenger your spacecraft speeds up the rate of scrolling if you move forward, but otherwise the ship does the same as in Konami‘s game – that is: fire bullets forward and drops bombs downward. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Konami and Universal were spying on each other in 1981…
Also unlike Scramble: you don’t have to worry about running out of fuel in Cosmic Avenger. You do, however, have to worry about everything else, because your ship moves so slowly at low speeds and enemy ships come flying in behind you, which are hard to avoid. Especially as they are constantly firing at you.
The key thing to playing Cosmic Avenger, then, is to vary your forward speed depending on what’s around you. Don’t fly too fast for too long – otherwise you’ll be shot down by ground-to-air missiles. Wait for them to fire, then slow down so you can shoot them. It’s easier said than done – especially when there are a lot of things going on on-screen.
So is Cosmic Avenger better than Scramble? Well… no, I don’t think so. I think it just falls short of Konami‘s classic because it lacks substance. With a few more features it might have been better, but as it stands: it’s a valiant effort that comes off second best.
Cosmic Avenger was definitely an influential game back in 1981. It’s just not as well-remembered as Scramble.