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1989 Rare Ltd.



Here we have a third person arcade shooter that has quite possibly the worst control scheme ever seen in an NES game. Shoot down walls, destroy houses, blow up tanks, mow down legions of enemy troops, all of this sounds good. Good luck trying to actually do any of it however.

You are a solider, and like all of the one-man-army games of this type you have to kill a whole buncha enemy soldiers. There's not much of a story line going on here but to me it always looked like this game was supposed to be set in South America somewhere (which makes sense, seeing how it came out in the late 80s with the Contras and everything.) You get an automatic rifle which can be upgraded to a faster machine gun version and can also throw grenades. The game is essentially an Operation Wolf style-shooter, the gimmick being that since it's third person you can actually move your character to dodge incoming fire.

Too bad you'll be too busy curled up in a fetal position cursing everything you hold dear to actually have any fun playing it. The control scheme in the arcade was via trackball, which when moved slowly would move your cursor and with rapid spinning would make you roll and dive to avoid incoming fire. Trackball controls never ever translate well to digital crosspad in the first place but usually you can come up with something semi-playable.

Except in this case, that is. The developers tried to emulate the arcade control scheme by making the targeting cursor and soldier move at the same time but with the cursor moving slightly faster - most of the time. The end result is a disgusting mockery to everything that is holy. You cannot move the stupid cursor fast enough to kill anything accurately. You cannot even move fast enough to dodge incoming fire. For some reason I can't yet figure out your little guy will randomly dive into a barrel roll when moving left or right, with no additional input from you, no double taps, or extra button presses or whatever - just dive and roll and screw up whatever semblance of control you had in the first place. You cannot move while firing, however the cursor will move. So you end up standing in one place firing all around, just to get the cursor to the place you want it, but it always seems to trail you just out of the "sweet spot" to actually hit anything. Also your character seems to throw grenades randomly out of his ass for no reason, once again not to any button input on your part. Yes my friends, the controls for this game are not just "wonky," they are "fucking broke," as my old game tester friends used to put it.

The developers must have seen how utterly ridiculous the controls are because they decided to gift you with an astounding amount of extra lives, without which you'd have absolutely no chance of getting past even the first level. This however screams to me "laziness." How about fixing the controls so the game is playable instead of just slapping a band aid on the problem?

All of this is really too bad, because the game looks and sounds pretty good and is otherwise a halfway decent arcade translation. It's just crippled to near unplayability by a control scheme devised in the deepest pits of Hell by the darkest minions of evil in the hope of destroying mankind once and for all. The only way to defeat this Satanic conspiracy is to never ever play this game, ever again. God is counting on you.

Good: All of the major elements of the arcade game are represented.

Bad: Controls created by the Prince of Darkness himself.

Graphics: Pretty good, good animation, large amount of destructible objects on the screen.

Sound: The usual 8-bit blops and bleeps. Decent explosion sounds.

Gameplay: Hampered by controls marinated in frustration, seasoned with unplayability, and baked in three hundred and fifty degrees of pure evil.

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