"Can you beat our Scramble system?" the machine cheerfully asked in its attract mode. Not an easy task in to perform in this 1981 Stern game, released in both upright and cocktail cabinets.


The player's job was to penetrate an intricate defense system and destroy the enemy base in what was one of the first "side-shooter" games made. With an unlimited arsenal of lasers and bombs, one had the joyful task of wreaking as much explosive havok as possible, all while keeping a watchful eye on your dwindling fuel supply. The game had five levels, or defensive systems that the player had to conquer before going onto the sixth and final round against the enemy base.

The defensive systems and their characteristics:

  • Mountain Level - You had to traverse over a treacherous mountain range while avoiding or shooting a slew of ground-based missiles which fired up at you.
  • Cavern Level - Next, you had to pass through the cavern while either avoiding or destroying the swarming saucers which sought to ram your ship.
  • Fireball Level - It became necessary to hug the ground closely, because a lethal rain of fireballs shot horizontally across the screen at you. Steady and precise handling of the ship was a must!
  • City Level - A city rose up from the wasteland and you had to pass over it, uncomfortably so as the passage was frequently little more than the height of your ship. Like the Mountain Level, missles rose up from the ground to greet you.
  • Tunnel Level - If the passage was tight in the previous level, it was positively lethal in this one! The only danger in this level was the myriad of fuel tanks which blocked the tiny tunnels... that and not being able to rise fast enough to miss the sheer rock faces that frequently loomed ahead of you.
  • Base Level - The base, though disappointing visually, was quite tricky to knock out. No long distance bomb drop was going to destroy it, as it was nestled protectively in a tight valley. Could you obliterate it and pull up in time?
  • Once you destroyed the base, you were congratulated for your efforts and then sent through the Scramble system again. Though the placement of enemy structures never changed, difficulty increased after each successful system completion in the form of quicker fuel consumption. After completion 4, you had to practically destroy every fuel tank available just to stay aloft.

    Technical Specifications

    Picture of Scramble Cocktail Switch Settings: (Courtesy of Bill Ung and Wiretap)

    Number of Ships Per Credit
    Switch 1Switch 2Number of Ships

    Switch 3 -

    Coins Per Credit
    Switch 4Switch 5Number of Coins

    Switch 6 - Unused

    Other Things of Interest

    Scramble had one interesting quirk: on your attack against the Base, if you were successful in its destruction yet lost your ship before you could escape, the game did not subtract that ship from your supply.

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