Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cabal Clones

In 1988, there was a game released called Cabal. It was similar to games like Commando in that you played a gun toting protagonist with the camera behind him (well sort of a 3rd person, top down view), plowing through hoardes of enemies. Where Cabal differed was that your character was stationary, could dive out of the way of fire, environments were destructable... and oh yes, the roller ball control scheme.

Cabal was released by the TAD corporation, who in 1990 made a spiritual sequel to Cabal in the wild west, titled Blood Bros. In my opinion, this game plays a lot better than Cabal while keeping the same style of gameplay. Who knows, perhaps it's the western setting.

As a fan of both these titles, my curiousity got the better of me and i went in search to other games that shared the same style of gameplay. I found quite the treasure trove.

To start with, let's have a look at Alligator Hunt. Gaelco released this in 1994, and it pretty much is an Extreme 90s version of Cabal, being that you play a kid on a skateboard (radical!) defending the Earth from aliens. This game is amazingly fun though. The enemies are very interesting (especially when you get to level 2), and shooting frogs for extra missiles in an interesting addition. This one is worth a play on MAME if you can get a hold of it.

Next we have NAM 1975, probably the most blatant of Cabal clones, at least in theme. Released by SNK in 1990, you're a soldier mowing down helicopters, tanks, and waves of enemy soldiers. One really neat edition is that your dodge button doubles as a roll and a speed run, so you can zip around to get power ups as well as dive out of the way of bullets. The distinction between the two modes of the button though is a little hairy.

Before we move from the arcade to the console, one final little oddity. A game called Hard Times, which the Italian company Playmark released in 1994. It's basically a modded version of Blood Bros with a gangster theme.

So now let's get to some of the great Cabal-esque games released on consoles throughout the years. First let's stop off on the SNES, with the sci-fi western, Wild Guns. Released in 1994 by Natsume, this title brought a couple new things (aside from a neat setting and decent gameplay). The stages contained some horizontal scrolling, and your character would actually inform you when they were in harm's way and it was time to dodge.

Let's move forward a ways now to the Dreamcast and Charge'N Blast. Even though the game is in 3d and the camera changes angle, your character moves on a fixed path. While this looks fun enough, that robotic voice over would grate on me pretty fast.

Finally let's have a look at the WiiWare title Zombie Panic in Wonderland, which was released just last year Akaoni Studio. The game has a really nice art style, and the sound and music are well done. It also seems very cutesy for a game about disposing of the undead. It does seem a little repetitive though, which i admit is a strange criticism of this style of game.

Well that's the titles that my research led me to. If you have suggestions to any games in this genre i have missed, please let me know. Any games where your character actually moves forward as you shoot doesn't count i'm afraid.

Till next time, happy gaming all!

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