On The Drawing of First Blood
Now that Rambo: Last Blood has been released to the chagrin of SJWs across the internet, the obvious video game tie-in article would be to look back at some of Rambo’s videogame outings. Unfortunately, they’re mediocre to terrible.
Initially, I set out to look at the Genesis version of Rambo III, as it would surely be the best version, right? I mean, it would be full of 16-bit goodness as Rambo plowed through the deserts of Afghanistan with a quiver of arrows and a knife that must taste blood.
Looks pretty good, don’t it? Too bad that screen is only a quick boss fight that’s over than less than a minute. The rest of the game looks like this puddle of billy goat puke:
From there, I decided to go back one console generation and booted up Rambo: First Blood Part II on the Sega Master System. What I found was more or less an Ikari Warriors/Commando ripoff, only worse.
There was a Rambo III lightgun game on the Sega Master System, too, but I could not get the mouse working on my emulator to give it a proper playthrough.
With the two lame Rambo games and the sub-par Rocky game on the Sega Master system, it’s no wonder the system never caught on in the States.
At this point, I would just call it a day and go back to jacking it to FatASS Trailer Park Porn… but the site was down…
Sir, Do We Get To Win This Time?
It was then that I remembered a beloved title from my childhood that basically covered all the Rambo bases. Cabal was a game I picked up for the NES in the bargain bin for about five bucks back in the early 90s.
Based on an arcade game of the same name, the game puts the player in the shoes of a battle-hardened commando pitted against a small nation’s entire army.
The game plays out like one of the 3Dish levels of Contra. The player stands in the forefront of the screen, behind a pretty flimsy barrier, as wave after wave of enemies charge headfirst into bullets. A slew of helicopters, planes, and other environmental hazards rain fire down on our hero, as well.
The player has an unlimited number of bullets and can pick up weapon upgrades via more high-powered firearms and grenades that are dropped. Although the player can move across the entire width of the screen, he can only fire standing still. This leads to some interesting gymnastics as the player attempts to avoid a cheap death by a slow-moving bullet.
The game offers two-player co-op, which is a rollicking good time. My brother and I put many hours into playing this game together.
You’re Not Expendable
While the game’s difficulty is on par with other shooters from the era, the generous continue system makes progressing fairly deep into the game attainable. I think my brother and I were able to beat this game back in the day, and I can get about halfway through on my own while hopped up on sweet toilet wine.
As with most arcade ports, it’s fun enough in short bursts. It’s one I’ll put on, play through all of my continues, and then move on to something else. Even though I may not play it for marathon game sessions, it does stay in frequent rotation.
Coming Full Circle
Looking at the feedback from the latest Rambo film, one could argue the world has moved on from John Rambo. Growing up, he was a frequent punchline in many pop-culture mainstays, including Green Jelly’s “Three Little Pigs” music video. Today’s generation, though, would they even show a hint of recognition at the name?
Where the Rocky series is easier to translate to a video game, it makes sense that the bulk of Rambo games came out when he had transitioned from thoughtful approach to Vietnam Vets suffering from PTSD to all-out cartoon-action hero. A game did come out with the fourth Rambo film, but did anyone ever play that?
As most people point to Contra as Rambo meets Aliens, there are a number of games that translate what it would feel like to be John Rambo better than the games that had the sole purpose of doing just that. While Rambo will always retain his status as an 80s zeitgeist that can remind Americans of our ass-kicking heritage, the video games are best left in the past.
For an added bonus while playing Cabal, you get to see the hilarious jig the character does after beating a level.