Cabal ZX Spectrum
Cabal was released on the ZX Spectrum by Ocean Software in 1989 - in time for the Christmas rush in the UK.
I must admit that this classic arcade game is one that slipped my by twenty odd years ago -but on playing today it I realised tha I missed out on a good and playable shoot em up. Once again Cabal turned out to be a good conversion of an arcade original.
The game did have a back story which went along the lines of:
A foreign country was causing a bit of aggro 'somewhere'. To avert a full-scale war our lad is sent in to dish out machine gun led justice and destroy the enemy on their own turf.
In the usual arcade game style, you were armed with a gun which was supplied with unlimited ammunition plus a limited supply of grenades. Grenades could be used to destroy tanks, helicopters, walls and groups of troops (always satisfying!), whilst the standard machine gun mowed down the enemy soldiers very nicely indeed.
You had to fight your way through twenty single screen levels. Our hero could move to the left and right across screen, whilst the gun and grenades were aimed with a cursor gun sight. Blasting larger targets occasionally awarded icons which when collected bestowed bonus points or a nice weapons powerup. If you were killed your powerup was lost though.
With each enemy on the current level killed a bar at the bottom of the screen slowly crept from left to right, changing from blue to red. Once it had reached the right hand side you had completed the current level and moved on to the next.
Each screen was different from the last, and usually had a 'war torn' feel to it. There was usually a half demolished wall or walls that offered you some protection from enemy fire, and tanks and soldiers would appear from behind bombed out buildings which were 'further away' from your viewpoint.
The game was completed once all twenty levels had been conquered - and the enemy were sent packing with their tails between their legs.
Pure arcade games like Operation Wolf and Operation Thunderbolt were still really popular in 1989 - and this game was certainly of that type of shoot em up. Although released late in 1989 games like Cabal proved that the humble Spectrum still had plenty of life left in it and wasn't quite ready to lay down for the likes of the Commodore Amiga just yet. Cabal was well received (grabbing the coveted Crash Smash award) and was yet another big hit for Ocean.
The test of time:
Well here in Spectrum Games we only just played Cabal for the first time (how I missed it back then is anyones guess!) The game is pure blasting simple fun and plays well and is pretty addictive. It took a few goes to get the hang of it - and it's a good way to pass a spare half hour. It doesn't seem to suffer from any busy screen 'slow down' either which did occur in Op Wolf (a little). Got to say I love the title music and menu too - very funky and nice to look at!
We recommend getting hold of the real Sinclair hardware but if not then download Cabal for a ZX Spectrum emulator. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
Try a three way gaming marathon with Op Wolf, Commando and Cabal.
Please see our other ZX Spectrum retro game reviews and programmer interviews - all links are listed in alphabetical order. Cheers guys.
GENRE: Arcade game
RELEASE DATE: End of 1989
RELEASED BY: Ocean
DEVELOPER(S): Jim Bagley, Keith Tinman and Charles Davies
PRICE: £8.99 Cassette or £14.99 Disk - UK
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