There’s only one thing better than playing games and that’s collecting every piece of merchandise tied to them. There was nothing like flipping through your favorite gaming magazine and seeing a profile of a limited edition collectible or discovering a piece of memorabilia from a beloved game in an overlooked corner of a shop and it’s a feeling we strive to replicate every month as we look through our own collector’s cabinet and dig out items new and old to show the world.
At this point in gaming history, most folks know what a visual novel is. That wasn’t always the case, though. Back in the 1990s and 2000s, the genre was super niche. Some folks who did know a thing or two sneered at the simple concept of a dating sim. With that said, there was an audience way back when that found their way to companies releasing titles in the genre through word of mouth and the internet. Megetach Software were one such company which released three visual novels during their few year lifespan. The very first was Cobra Mission: Panic in Cobra City in 1992.
The game was released on PC with the bold declaration of a NR-18, or R, rating. This was before the ESRB existed, so there was no ratings agency. The company selected this rating themselves based on the inclusion of violent and sexual content in the game. Those who weren’t gaming in the early ’90s on PC will likely find the contents inside the PC big box quite a shock. Others will be sent down memory lane. There are a number of pamphlets included, a registration card, a manual and six floppy discs. Cobra Mission: Panic in Cobra City came in 5 1/2 “ and 3 ½ “ variations. Either way you bought it, you had to contend with multiple install discs. There wasn’t much content that could be stored on a single floppy!
Registration of this game was important to Megatech Software. Despite being an early entrant in the American visual novel publishing landscape, they rightly feared piracy. Many other fledgling companies went under because people preferred to pirate rather than purchase “adult” games on PC. So as the red notice boldly proclaims, you’d better register your copy or they won’t give you tech support. There’s an additional anti-piracy measure included in the manual. There are special codes printed on the first and last page of the manual required to successfully play through the game. Without them, you’re stuck. Anti-piracy measures like this are a charming relic of the past.
The software registration card proves humorous itself, allowing players to state whether they think there’s too much or too little nudity, animation, sound and complexity in Cobra Mission: Panic in Cobra City. It also provides fun references to classic video formats such as EGA and VGA. It wasn’t that long ago where asking PC gamers about their computer memory could generate answers ranging anywhere from 650K to 4MBs. Even at these terribly small amounts, gaming was still totally feasible and fun.
It’s funny to see just how much Megatech Software marketed the “sexy” aspects of their debut title. Even the menu states it is “one very sexy game.” The company clearly hoped to make a name for themselves in the R-rated gaming sphere. Perhaps it didn’t work out for them quite as they hoped. After the release of this first title, their next games were released as all-ages packages. They still offered 18+ content, but required players to purchase a separate “upgrade” disc. Think of it as physical 18+ DLC from the 90s.
Because Cobra Mission: Panic in Cobra City was both such an early release and readily pirated, there are not a lot of physical copies floating around today. It’s challenging to find one for purchase, but of course there are many downloadable copies available. Megatech Software went under in the mid ’90s so it’s unlikely that there will ever be a modern digital release made available. It stands as an interesting tidbit of gaming history showing that an American appetite for visual novels existed even back in 1992.
Want to look through the rest of our Collector’s Cabinet? Head right here.