Thanks to Bitwave Games for the review code
Title: Twin Cobra
System: Steam (PC)
Release Date: 02/14/2023
Another part of the Bitwave Toaplan Collection, Twin Cobra was one of Toaplan’s first legendary hits! Taking control of a helicopter, you must set off to defeat enemy forces in ten stages. Yet again, there’s not much in terms of a story here, so just get to shooting!
Similar to the first Toaplan release I reviewed, you have a menu with the same sort of display options available as before, though new to this particular game is an interesting Wide mode, which when toggled, turns the game into a strange 4:3 format. On the US version, it looks decent enough, even if it leads to some enemies spawning in the middle of the screen out of nowhere, while on the Japanese version, you sometimes can’t go all the way to the edges of the screen, which is odd. Still, it serves as an interesting way to play the game in a new way.
Twin Cobra itself looks pretty great for the time, and far prettier than prequel game Tiger Heli ever did, so you can definitely see the huge graphical jump from the two games, which isn’t surprising considering how Tiger Heli was one of Toaplan’s first developed hits, and Twin Cobra looks like they revisited that original concept after several years of learning and making other polished shmups, leading to an appealing presentation. Also like before, this game’s sound emulation is pretty good after a swift patch, with those FM tunes still standing just as strong as they ever did. No complaints here and not much else to say.
This is another Toaplan vertical shooter, so you should know the drill by now: armed with bombs and multiple weapons to pick up, you shoot your way through an assortment of bosses and stages in order to make it to the end of the game, where it then loops on a harder difficulty. Here in Twin Cobra however, the environments have some destructible aspects to them, and this game feels a lot more fun as a general scorechaser. Lots of cool things to blow up, powerup stars to collect, and four weapons to obtain and upgrade if you so please. Also like the Bitwave Truxton, the input timing feels excellent here, also containing all the handy accessibility and gameplay tweak options as that title, including Very Easy mode.
Your bombs also aren’t as helpful as in Truxton, being more meticulous in nature and requiring a bit of extra time to detonate. They also only affect the small area in which you drop them, so while they still help clear out bullets coming at you, pressing the button won’t instantly make oncoming ones evaporate, so you definitely have to use them more wisely. I much prefer this system for the bombs, and generally Twin Cobra’s level design feels a lot more engaging for scorechasing purposes than Truxton, with a challenge level that’s just right on the default settings.
However, like last time, Bitwave added the option to toggle between regional versions, and there’s only two this time around. Twin Cobra is the titular, US version, and maintains the core gameplay, but with two player co-op and the ability to respawn immediately upon death. Handy for casually clearing the game, but continuing doesn’t reset your score, and it can make the game a bit monotonous and easy. Thankfully, that’s where the Japanese version comes into play, and that’s my preferred way to play. Kyukyoku Tiger is single player only, but sets you back at a checkpoint upon death, leading to the scorechasing being a lot more exciting, along with the general progression of needing just one more try to move onto the next checkpoint.
Like before, there are multiple online leaderboards, and the regional variants even have their own leaderboard as a result of the major changes to gameplay. There’s also the other options, such as Very Easy mode with hitbox shrinkage and visibilty, rewind, and slowdown options, along with the option to make save states and your own replays. The super robust practice mode is available once again as well, and Twin Cobra is definitely a game that gets nastier on repeated loops, so just peek at loop 9 if you want to see how nightmarishly fast the enemy bullets get. One other aspect I forgot to mention earlier comes from how these Bitwave releases all save your local hi-scores on the in-game leaderboard without the need for a save state, which is a much appreciated touch for us scorechasers who like to practice locally.
As for current bugs, like in the other Toaplan Bitwave games, mapping the standard shot button doesn’t seem to have it do anything, there’s also the aforementioned quirk with the wide screen option I mentioned earlier, but otherwise I am very surprised that most other bugs I had written as notes for this paragraph were fixed just in time for launch day: so the two aspects I still noted are the only ones that feel a bit wonky, meaning this is a fantastic version of the game to jump in and play, if you don’t mind the rapid fire disabling your normal shot.
In conclusion, Twin Cobra is another Toaplan classic, brought to PC with good playability, online leaderboards, and fun quality of life additions. Definitely a classic scorechaser with lots of replayability, and one I’d nudge a bit above Truxton and Zero Wing in terms of fun factor. Having the JP version available as well is super welcome, especially considering how much more fun that game is from a scoring perspective. Whichever regional variant you decide to try, I can safely say Twin Cobra is definitely worth a full playthrough, port quirks aside, and this game is especially suited for those handy online leaderboards.
I give Twin Cobra a 7 out of 10.