Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Matter of Import 030: Cosmo [TDS 1979]

Matter of Import is a retro game review series where we look at games that never got a US release. Originally we were only going to cover console games because it was tricky to determine what regions an arcade title was distributed to, but hey, let's do them anyway.

Our first arcade title is 1979's Cosmo. Released in Japan by a company called TDS, I could find very little information about it online.

1979 saw more than a few Space Invaders clones, but Cosmo is closer to Galaxian, released the same year – but with enough variety that it's worth examining on its own.

Unsurprisingly the enemy sprites are simple and largely single-colored, though unlike many games prior to Galaxian the sprites are actually colored, not relying on a screen overlay as in Space Invaders. The action is fast and frantic, forcing the player to keep moving to avoid destruction, though the enemy ship patterns are simple enough once you've seen them.

It definitely doesn't look as "nice" as Galaxian, but there's more variety in each wave – enemy sprites are different, and their attack patterns are very different, though in general they'll fly around the screen until they decide to take a dive at you.

One nice touch is that after every wave you get a little trophy in the corner to track your progress.

While it's generally accepted that the first real Boss in video games comes in 1980's Phoenix, in Cosmo there are enemy waves that serve the role of mini-boss, presenting you with a single tougher enemy to beat. That, too, was an unexpected element of a relatively unknown and simple game.

As far as the sound and visual goes, unfortunately what you see here is an imperfect emulation – I've seen the real game, and it features multiple hardware improvements like moving starfields in the background instead of a blank void. As I can't really judge the game based on what I've played, I'll leave that out of my evaluation.

It's no Galaxian or Asteroids, but it's a fun enough game with some unexpected – but fun – complexity. I'll give Cosmo a B ranking.

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