G.I. JOE: Wrath of Cobra is a pleasingly retro-styled beat-’em-up

G.I. Joe

Hot on the heels of TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge comes G.I. JOE: Wrath of Cobra, another beat-’em-up laser-targeted on nostalgia for 1980s cartoons.

G.I. JOE, or Action Force to give it its (better) UK name, was my absolute favourite toy brand as a kid. My room was stuffed full of various planes, tanks, jeeps, boats and hovercrafts populated by 3.75 inch action figures in realistic battle poses. Looking back, I’m a bit wary of G.I. JOE’s fetishisation of the American military machine, but at the time it was the only toy I cared about. You could keep your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and your He-Mans. G.I. JOE was where it was at.

And so, when I first saw the trailer for G.I. JOE: Wrath of Cobra – announced at The Mix Next showcase yesterday – I found myself unconsciously muttering the names of the characters and vehicles like I was reciting the rosary. Duke. Snake Eyes. Dragonfly. Sky Striker. Destro. Cobra Commander. Stinger. Zartan. Names I haven’t heard or uttered in perhaps 30 years, yet as easily recalled as the names of my own children.

This is pure, weaponised nostalgia. A game laser-targeted at the middle-aged, preying on rose-tinted memories of posable plastic. And it’s got me. And if you’ve read this far, it’s probably got you, too.

G.I. JOE: Wrath of Cobra is being developed by Canadian studio Maple Powered Games, creators of Monster Harvest, and it promises retro-styled beat-’em-up action with up to four players either online or locally. The playable characters include Duke, Scarlett, Snake Eyes and Roadblock, among others, and the press release promises that you’ll be able to devise “powerful combos fitting each character’s skill set”.

“G.I. Joe is an absolute classic franchise with one of the best fanbases,” said Maple Powered Games’ co-founder Kerry Vandenberg, in a statement that is surely a blatant attempt to flatter me. See? G.I. JOE fans are the best. Who cares about He-Man. “Working on this game is a dream come true and it’s been a blast creating the game I’ve always wanted to see for G.I. Joe,” he continues. “We’re honoured to give G.I. Joe fans the video game they deserve with the most authentic experience possible.”

G.I. JOE: Wrath of Cobra is heading to PC and Switch in Q1 2024, published by Freedom Games. I wonder what 1980s toy franchise will be next for the retro beat ’em up treatment? I’m hoping for Dino-Riders.

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