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Review: Cabal on the C64


Review by MrSid
I was given Cabal one Christmas, probably around 1989. At that time I had no idea that it was a conversion of an arcade machine. I thought it looked pretty cool by the cover as it featured plenty of guns, explosions and helicopters; everything that appeals to an 8 year old boy.

Cabal is an Operation Wolf style shooter with a difference. The difference is that you also control the soldierĀ at the front of the screen, not just the crosshair. Released in 88 by Ocean, it was developed by Special FX and the music composed by Keith Tinman.

Set in the Vietnam War era, the idea of Cabal is to destroy all your FOE by firing your machine gun and throwing grenades. You move the soldier left and right to avoid enemy bullets and at the same time must shoot the enemy troops and destroy buildings. When all your FOE is destroyed, you progress through the levels and along the way collect power ups for your guns to help defeat the increasingly hard to kill enemies. Each mission is split into five stages and each mission finishes with a boss battle. Basically the aim of the game is blow the crap out of everything on the screen!

Trying to move left and right to dodge bullets whilst aiming your crosshair is pretty difficult and makes Cabal a really tough game. As you progress, the enemy troops get much harder to kill and the action gets really frantic. Back in the day I can remember almost completing Cabal but nowadays, can’t get very far. Must have been those long hot summers spent indoors practicing!


Average graphics for the C64. Clear and crisp but lacking much detail. You also get the C64’s usual dull colour palette that makes everything look quite flat.


Keith Tinman (Midnight Resistance soundtrack) did an amazing job with the music. Suits the game really well and has a real ‘war’ feel to it. No music in game which is very disappointing. You just get very basic sound effects of machine guns and explosions which is a real shame.

Once you get the hang on the controls and the steep learning curve, Cabal plays great. The gameplay is pretty hectic at times with bullets flying everywhere but it’s addictive.

Two things that are missing from the arcade version is a 2 player mode and a roll move that could be used to dodge bullets. Real shame as both would have really enhanced the game.

Plays well today and still good fun. Cabal feels exactly the same as when it was when released in 89 (a slightly above average shoot em up).

Cabal is a decent arcade conversion. Cramming an arcade machine into an 8 bit machine is never going to be perfect but this stays quite faithful to the original. The lack of 2 player and in game music is a shame but at the time, back in 89 as an 8 year old, I thought Cabal was a fantastic game.

Well worth a blast and would recommend checking it out.


One thought on “Review: Cabal on the C64

  1. scopie says:

    I think for a c64 game this was actually pretty impressive when it first released. Special fx were a talented studio, their graphics in the untouchables we’re superb especially the loading screens.

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