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Cabal (NES) artwork

Cabal (NES) review

"So you wanna be a guerilla (what, playing as Donkey Kong isnít enough?). As mentioned, you can take a buddy along, so that the cabal now has two members (and it's a good thing, because I'm not sure that one constitutes a cabal). The two of you are quite deadly and nothing will intimidate you. "

Player one wears blue. Player two wears red. We get a view of the players' backs, looking into the screen. We control them, as well as the crosshairs that target their weapons. Lock and load, and letís do this thing.

Taito and Milton Bradley have done well with Cabal, leaving precious little out of this solid port of the arcade guerilla game. Really, the graphic limitations and lack of exploration - which is an inherent limitation - are the game's only weaknesses. For fans of the coin-op, the NES version looks a bit fuzzier than you might have hoped, but better than you might have expected.

Cabal sounds decent too. There is a bass-heavy, rumbling track that permeates the panorama in most levels. Itís a fitting tune, and its redundancy is more hypnotic than annoying. The boss music is much more inspiring however. It will start to play, and a boss will slide onto the screen. Whether it be an armed dirigible, or an unmanned outpost, your eyes will widen and hands tighten on the control pad with anticipation.

As mentioned, you can take a buddy along, so that the cabal now has two members (and it's a good thing, because I'm not sure that one constitutes a cabal). The two of you are quite deadly and nothing will intimidate you.

Not guerillas hiding, submerged under filthy swamp water. Not acrobatic guerillas, not wetsuit guerillas. Not helicopters making strafing runs, not large aircraft doing bombing runs. Your wrath is all-consuming and you will not stop until the destruction is complete - in the process rending jeeps and tanks, and trees and buildings alike.

Even if you go it alone, youíre one man not to be trifled with. You will shoot down enemies and procure their weapons to augment your own. Your standard issue assault rifle might struggle to eliminate that tank (the turret is turning on you alarmingly quickly). A well placed grenade will erase that threat rather neatly, but donít be wasteful. Youíve only got so many to lob around. Prudent rationing is in order.

Occasionally, you will explode something and win yourself one of two types of heavy machine gun. The time for prudent rationing ends here, and the time for laying waste to all but the horizon has arrived. There is a time limit on these guns, so do as much damage as you can.

The weapons - like the proverbial clothes - do not make the man. The controls are adequate, though you will find a joystick infinitely more useful than the standard control pad. Still, moving the reticle around is facile in either case, and in no time you will have your character performing tuck and rolls and cartwheels onscreen, while laying down cover fire for him. These highly skillful maneuvers (yes I know you did this in the playground as a child) will allow you to dodge all manner of enemy bullets and shells.

You will only grant a cease fire in order to dance. Yes, dance. When all your foes are dead, the level ends, and you (and your pal) dance gaily into the screen, into the distance.

And that is where you leave your experience with Cabal. Well, not exactly by dancing, but you will put down the controller, whether the game has ended with the credits, or with your untimely death, and feel like you have thoroughly enjoyed yourself. It is a rewarding experience that feels authentic, yet quaint; dead serious, yet lighthearted; all at the same time. I hadnít killed this many people, using such guerilla tactics, in such a dirty, inglorious campaign, and found it so satisfying, until Cabal.

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (December 31, 2003)

There was a bio here once. It's gone now.

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