by David J. Anderson, F. David Thorpe
Ocean Software Ltd
Crash Issue 26, Mar 1986   page(s) 124

Producer: Ocean
Retail Price: £7.95
Author: Platinum Productions

With the wide publicity given to 'Rambo', few people can have failed to hear of the all-fighting, invincible character brought to the screen by Sylvester Stallone. Ocean, catching on to the Rambo bandwagon, have now released their binary interpretation of Stallone's blockbuster. The plot of the game follows that of the film quite closely.

John Rambo is a veteran of the Vietnamese war; a jungle fighter drafted back into service to perform a reconnaissance mission to a Prisoner of War camp. His instructions are to gain entry, take some photos and get out without either engaging the enemy or being noticed. If Rambo is spotted, it would jeopardise the prisoners' chances of rescue and could lead to their deaths.

In the film, our hero begins his adventure by skulking into the camp and manages to stick to his orders until he spots his old war comrade, Banks, tied to a bamboo cross. Unable to leave his old pal dying in the sun, Rambo disobeys his orders and rescues his friend. The enemy, of course, spot this, and much blood splashing, carnage and mayhem is the result. Swiftly, Rambo returns to the helicopter that airdropped him, and makes the pilot fly back to the camp for a quick and successful attempt at rescuing the prisoners.

Then, pausing briefly to tackle an enemy gunship that tries to blast them out of the sky, Rambo and the rescued prisoners fly to Thailand. Well that's the theory and, if you complete the game, that's what should happen.

Rambo is a Platinum Productions game and is front-ended with their familiar options screen. Keys can be defined, although S starts the game, and skill levels can be set. The playing area occupies the left two thirds of the screen, with the right hand portion occupied by a combined inventory and status area.

The jungle scenery scrolls around our hero in the action screen. The viewpoint from which the game is played is above and behind the hero, creating a pseudo 3D effect. Rambo can move around in the eight normal joystick directions but may come to halt when he reaches the edge of the jungle.

Rambo is not the only person in the jungle - it's full of enemy soldiers sneaking about. This is a combat game, so Rambo's inventory keeps a track of his 'kills' as well as displaying the weapons he collects. Starting off with knives and grenades, Rambo can collect other weapons on the way. Apart from the knives and grenades, you may find other weapons lying about on the jungle floor including a bow and explosive arrows, a machine gun and a rocket launcher. All the weapons have a seemingly endless supply of ammo, but only one weapon may be used at a time.

Grenades are quite deadly but the noise does tend to attract the baddies to your location, whereas the knives are silent. If you throw a knife in the direction that Rambo is facing, any bad guy it travels over is killed and your score increases by ten points. If, on the other hand, a baddie should shoot or stroll through you, you don't survive the encounter. All the same, the man is tough: you get four lives.

Rambo starts his mission outside the enemy camp and must get inside via a small entrance on the right hand fence, rescue Banks by running over him and then run to the helicopter which is due north. The helicopter then needs to be flown to the large H landing pad in the jungle from where the hostages can be liberated using the rocket launcher. On the trip home, with the helicopter filled with the good guys, a gunship attacks. The view is similar to the jungle and camp scenes, but a helicopter replaces Rambo in the playing area.


Control keys: definable
Joystick: Kempston
Keyboard play: very responsive
Use of colour: status screen pretty, playing area rather drab
Graphics: good scrolling and detail
Sound: very good tune, reasonable effects
Skill levels: 3
Screens: 3

After Commando comes Rambo, which is similar in many ways. As I got into the swing of things, shooting and blowing things up while dodging bushes etc, I found it was a reasonable game. The graphics on the loading screen and in the game itself are really good and detailed but a bit dull when in comes to the colour section. When you die in the game you get a realistic rendition of the US National Anthem. Not bad, overall.

And so, in a blaze of exploding grenades and bazookas, John Rambo hits the Speccy (I hope it didn't hurt...) in the officially licenced game-of-the-film from Ocean. I haven't managed to see Rambo, the movie yet but from comments handed down in school the game doesn't match it. In look, it is very similar to Commando, but it's not as playable. Some neat tunes express themselves well, and there's a small high score table. Overall this is quite a good game, and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes trying to totally obliterate any enemy when the odds are a mega-million to one. Well, a thousand anyway... Hmm. Maybe ten...

Not as good as Commando, but a very good film tie-in for the price - and it has something to do with the film, which makes a change! The screen area is a bit too small for a good shoot em up, which is what Rambo really is, and tends to scroll from side to side constantly which gets very annoying. Rambo runs around in a very Commando-like style, with trees and bushes all drawn in detail. (I found I could blow some of them up with the exploding arrows and hand grenades). It is odd the way our hero is always carrying a machine gun - even when he hasn't picked it up, and it would be a good touch if Rambo actually carried weapons on-screen when he picks them up. There are some good touches - like the way you use a knife to free your fellow soldiers and the use of a helicopter to rescue others. I wouldn't advise you to buy Rambo as well as Commando, but instead of it. It adds an extra dimension to the arcade game while retaining a number of similarities.

Use of Computer: 82%
Graphics: 81%
Playability: 80%
Getting Started: 82%
Addictive Qualities: 78%
Value for Money: 79%
Overall: 79%

Summary: General Rating: Doesn't quite match the hype perhaps, but offers some good arcade playing.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 67, Aug 1989   page(s) 44

The Hit Squad
£2.99 (rerelease)

Cor, we remember this from many a play, and it's still pretty hot, even though not really up to the standards of some of today's software. It's set in the Vietnamese jungle, and Rambo is on a mission to photograph the plight of American prisoners of war. But having found them, will his conscience let him walk away? Silly question!

Armed with just a knife and bombs to begin with, he decides to rescue Colonal Trautman and hi-jack a helicopter to free his buddies. Rambo roams through one main landscape killing enemies and rescuing his mates, first on foot, then in an army chopper.

Slightly outdated by today's standards are the graphics - mainly black, with prison camps, helicopters and little men all recognisable and coloured, but with clash problems. The sound Ocean packed into this game takes you back in time: a brilliant tune (for a 48K machine anyway) on the title screen and plenty of gun effects to keep your ears buzzing as you play. Rambo - First Blood Part Two, to give it its full name, is fun, and in our opinion beats the new Rambo 3 for playability. At this price you should buy it.

Overall: 78%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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