Cabal Review

Cabal Arcade Game Flyer

An arcade co-op shooter where you take on an entire army of terrorists.

Story

A brave commando soldier volunteers for a very dangerous mission. The mission objectives are clear and simple; eliminate an army of terrorists, by any means necessary.
Armed with only an assault rifle and some hand grenades, the commando heads towards the terrorist headquarters and opens fire at anything that moves…

The Game

Cabal in the arcades came in two variants – one controlled with a standard joystick and the other controlled with a track-ball. Cabal is a third-person shooter arcade game where you play as the lone commando trying to eliminate an entire army of terrorists, tanks, helicopters, and more. Each stage in the game consists of one single screen where you must fight off enemies in order to proceed to the next screen.

The game has support for two players in a cool back-to-back co-op mode, but even then the chances of completing the mission are close to none.
The difficulty level in Cabal feels unbalanced and unfair. The onslaught of projectiles and explosions coming your way is merciless and occasionally makes you wonder whether the game was properly play-tested before shipping.

Content

The game has 20 stages and five bosses. The first few stages are hard to beat and it only gets harder and harder. Each stage has an infinite amount of enemies that keeps swarming into the screen. Each time you kill an enemy unit, that kill is counted towards the enemy gauge that builds up with every kill. When the gauge maxes out, you are automatically taken to the next stage.

For each coin you insert you are given one extra credit and each credit has two hearts – that is to say two lives. A single hit takes away one life, so you better keep some extra coins nearby if you want to last in this game. Considering that you are peppered with bullets, grenades and bombs on each stage, your odds does not look good at all.
A second player can join in at anytime in the game and the game will automatically ramp up the difficulty level – no matter how you play this one, it’s going to be hard!

The environments you are fighting in are all very appropriate to the theme of the game. You will be fighting your way through villages, barricades, fortresses, jungles, airports etc. Your basic enemies are the terrorist infantry, and they’ll use both gunfire, their massive numbers and grenades against you. You’ll have to fight trucks loading off soldiers, tanks and helicopters peppering with all their weapons and more. There is also some special units that you’ll have to face such as grenadier-troops and scuba divers.

Every now and then you’ll find extra weapons like new hand grenades and a better machine-gun. There are two types of machine-guns you can find and the difference between them is their fire rate. Both machine-guns fires bullets even more rapidly than the standard rifle but you only get to keep it for a few seconds. The machine-guns are pretty rare and hand grenades are also hard to come by.

The high score table will not save your scores between machine restarts, but it will at least allow you to compare your scores to co-op partners and the like.

Controls

In Cabal you steer the commando left and right with the joystick at the same time as you are aiming with your cross hair. Holding the fire button will force the commando to stand still and fire with the rifle, and you are thus free to aim your salvos. The second button is for throwing hand grenades, and the third button is for making evasive rolls. These rolls are very intuitive to use and will get you out of many tight situations. It’s what you will be using to stay alive.

Each stage also has a protective wall between you and the enemies. It consists of a few segments of a wall, and each segment is destroyed by a single gunshot – while it does take a bullet or two for you, it really isn’t the help you need in this game. Instead, the game forces you into a constant battle between dodging bullets and aiming your gunfire – you can’t do both at the same time!

Standing face to face against an army of enemies is living hell, as shown in this game. The bonus items that appear like extra score, grenades and weapons seldom comes easy – generally you will need to risk your life for them, and that’s a kind of interesting position to be in. Some situations are close to impossible (if not impossible!) to get out of alive, even with skillful use of the roll, but much can be avoided with some footwork and some planning. Each hit you take will grant you a much needed momentary invincibility shield that will take you out of that danger.

The bosses are surprisingly hard, because their attack patterns are pretty random and you are forced to beat them with one credit! If you die during a boss fight the boss encounter restarts.

Graphics

Graphically Cabal looks quite colorful. The game is very fast, snappy and responsive. The animations are very standard, but still manages to illustrate this gritty war in an appropriate way. The stages are filled with destructible houses and other props and it’s strangely pleasing to see it all crumble to dust as the battle rages on.

Sound

The music that plays during the game is very basic and consists only of a simple bassline. It provides a generic backdrop and stays patiently in the background. The sound effects are very tame, considering that this game is full of explosions and gunfire. There are some screams in there, but they aren’t very convincing. With that said, the game does not sound at all like it looks. It’s obvious that more effort was put into making the game look good visually and run smooth rather than sound like the fierce war it depicts.

Summary

Cabal is a hardcore game in the true sense of the word. The co-op mode adds some extra value to the game and makes the experience memorable. This game is really a no-brainer with loads of old-school action. The high difficulty level will probably turn most people off, but if you’re in for a challenge this could very well be what you’re looking for.

Developed By: TAD Corporation
Published By: Taito
Version Reviewed: Arcade
Genre: Third-Person Shooter
Players: 1-2
Also Available On: Amiga, Amstrad CPC, C64, ZX Spectrum, DOS, NES
Released: 1988

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