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  • Writer's pictureRoberto Nieves

PAX East - G.I. Joe Returns in G.I. Joe: Wrath of Cobra

Some things go together: Netflix and pizza, Fridays and Chinese food, a burger with cheese, Han Solo and Chewbacca. So when I saw G.I. Joe: Wrath of Cobra on the floor of PAX East 2024, I was already excited. Then, I learned that it was being published by the newly formed publisher Freedom Games. Freedom Games publishing a G.I. Joe game—that is something that goes together!

The G.I. Joe has a new game on the way with G.I. Joe: Wrath of Cobra made its debut fairly recently in 2023. The game is seen as a side-scrolling beat 'em up very much in the vein of side-scrolling classics like Streets of Rage and the TMNT Arcade games. The demo was made available at PAX East 2024 in Boston. After some time with it, my biggest question is why it wasn't made sooner because it's awesome!

Yo Joe

My demo for G.I. Joe: Wrath of Cobra had me as Duke, the leader of the special operations squad. Duke negotiates hostile situations with his fists and kicks. Between him and Destro is a small army of Cobra soldiers. The demo was one-player, and I didn't have a buddy with me, but it is believed that the game will have couch co-op. Without delay, the demo got started.

As per the rules of side-scroller brawlers, the goal is to beat up every single enemy before moving on to the next screen. players need to kick, punch, and survive the enemy hordes. Being this is Cobra, the enemy is large in number and will deploy special weapons and vehicles to stop you. In addition to punching, players can wield weapons, both melee and ranged. When the special meter builds, each character can call in a special attack. In the case of Duke, he can call in an airstrike that pummels enemies.

G.I Joe is here

The gameplay in G.I. Joe: Wrath of Cobra is what the cool guys say these days: Crunchy. Every punch and kick has a wicked sensation of force and oomf. Every swing felt like I was knocking the teeth out of a hapless Cobra soldier. Every kick felt like I sent a bad guy into the sky. Controls felt tight and responsive, which is essential for a brawler. I can easily foresee the same level of satisfaction being applied to the rest of the G.I. Joe cast.

During the level, the enemy became more numerous and formidable. Fortunately, I was able to bust open crates and grab much-needed health items. With that, I came across a laser rifle. The screen soon erupted in that iconic flurry of red lasers and blue lasers as more enemies poured in. Some Cobra soldiers were more nimble than others, and some were armored.

When I got overwhelmed, I used my special ability: an airstrike. Each character is set to have their special attack feature. For Duke, G.I. Joe air support comes in and drops an assortment of bombs, blanketing the stage and hurting everyone except the players. It was a satisfying touch and only added to the sheer enjoyment.

I finally made my way through the secret Cobra lab and finally got to face Destro. The boss fight was by the numbers. Destro would use special weapons and henchmen to take me down, and the key was to punch the guy until he couldn't take it anymore. It was a quick bout that ended in a few minutes, but I imagine on greater difficulties, boss fights would be even grander and harder. After a flurry of punches, kicks, laser fire, and airstrikes, Destro was taken down. The demo ended.

For the younger readers out there, G.I. Joe is a toy line that began in 1964. G.I. Joe was one of the very first modern-day action figures, representing the four branches of the United States Armed Services. G.I. Joe was named after the generic term used to describe American troops. Times changed in the decades to come, between the Vietnam War and the Apollo 12 Moon landing. By the 1980s, G.I. Joe returned, becoming one of the biggest pop cultural phenomena of all time.

G.I. Joe was relaunched to represent the newfound patriotism and national pride that occurred in the 80s. A story and cast of characters were forged. The G.I. Joe is America's elite special forces team that takes to sea, land, and air. With the latest technology and military training, the G.I. Joe fight for democracy against Cobra. In this world, Cobra isn't health insurance. Cobra is the evil terrorist organization bent on world domination and believes in the power of the snake. Wherever freedom is in trouble, G.I. Joe is there.

G.I. Joe led to an almost incalculable amount of merchandise, from comics to movies, and a TV series that ran for 95 episodes. The show introduced the likes of Duke, Snake Eyes, Destro, Lady Jayne, Baroness, and Cobra Commander. Every Saturday morning, kids were treated to grand missions and battles with futuristic vehicles and a flurry of red and blue laser fire. G.I. Joe accompanied classic 80s cartoons, such as The Transformers, The Centurions, and He-Man. Between these shows, it was a golden age in animation and a treasure trove for toy makers. The centerpiece of G.I. Joe was the toys.

The action figures were the first to introduce the infamous "kung-fu" grip, to coincide with the ride of martial arts films in the 70s. Thousands of toys and playsets became the hot item for every child around the world. The legacy of G.I. Joe would continue in the decades to come. Many movies would be released, including three live-action ones. Youtuber Angry Joe of The Angry Joe Show would use G.I. Joe imagery in his reviews. One of the earliest internet parodies involved taking the PSAs at the end of each episode and dubbing them with R-rated humor. The latest Transformers movie, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, teases a collaboration between the Autobots and the G.I. Joe.

Playing G.I. Joe: Wrath of Cobra felt like childhood imagination coming to life. For every kid who imagines epic battles in their living room, G.I. Joe's Wrath of Cobra felt like those grand fights finally realized. Seeing G.I. Joe return in G.I. Joe: Wrath of Cobra fills me with excitement! The combat is satisfying, and the presentation is a love letter to a bygone era filled with the strongest and warmest of memories. A time when anyone could dream of being a hero who saved the world from bad guys in the name of freedom.

G.I. Joe: Wrath of Cobra launches in 2024 for consoles and PCs.

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