Retro Coin Op Synopsis
The original G.I. Joe cartoon arrived at a bad time for the video game industry. Perhaps for that reason, the Joes never made it to the arcades, though a few home games were developed. A brief revival of the G.I. Joe cartoon in the early 1990’s gave Konami the opportunity to right that wrong, and the military team set off on their first-ever arcade adventure, simply titled G.I. Joe.
Not surprisingly, the G.I. Joe arcade game pitted our Real American Heroes against the forces of COBRA, who were up to their usual world-domination tricks. Up to four players could control one of four Joes selected for the mission—crew-cut leader Duke, redhead Scarlett, burly Roadblock, or everyone’s favorite mute ninja, Snake Eyes. Once the team was lined up, the mission began in a desert wasteland not too far from a COBRA base. From there, the action moved forward, presented from a behind-the-back perspective similar to Devastators (another Konami favorite), while you moved the Joes side-to-side to avoid enemy fire and line up your shots.
The object of the game couldn’t have been simpler: Blow up everything, don’t get shot. And believe us, there was plenty of “everything” to shoot at. COBRA launched wave after wave of Viper troopers at you, while vehicles attacked from land, sea and air. After causing enough carnage (a significant change from the “nobody really gets hurt” rules of the animated series), you faced familiar COBRA bosses at the end of stages. The first mission put you head-to-head with twins Tomax and Xamot, Metal Head, and finally The Baroness. But once that stage was cleared, the COBRA nasties simply moved on to another evil plot.
The second mission took your Joes through the jungle, where COBRA had erected a large fortress. This time, an airborne Major Bludd stood in your way, followed up by Destro at the base. Even if you managed to get past the metal-plated baddie and trash the fortress, your work wasn’t done yet. From a nearby lake rose a tremendous flying aircraft carrier, with Cobra Commander himself on board. Storming the giant warship, Duke and company pushed ahead to a final showdown with the Commander, trying to prevent the airship from launching a deadly barrage of missiles at the nations of the world.
There were no real advantages to choosing one character over another. Each came equipped with a machine gun (unlimited ammo) and a rocket launcher (limited ammo), and time-based power-ups could be caught and used by anyone. Nor was the gameplay of G.I. Joe significantly different from that of other titles on the market in 1992. The real thrill of the game was taking control of your favorite Joe character (assuming your favorite was either Duke, Scarlett, Roadblock or Snake Eyes), finally fulfilling the heroic fantasies some fans had been harboring for nearly a decade. Yo Joe!