Jackal
Box Shot
Jackal
Platform: NES
Publisher: Konami
Designer: Konami
Genre: Action
Players: 2 (Simultaneous)
Published Date 1988
Reviewed by: Rob Strangman

For years, the Vietnamese government has denied the rumors that American POWs are still being held prisoner deep inside Cambodia. One day, however, infrared satellites spot dozens of POW camps hidden deep in the Cambodian jungles. The US can't risk launching a full-scale invasion to get these men out, but something must be done. The President orders the Green Berets' tactical "Jeep Squad" to stage a small-scale commando raid - codenamed JACKAL - and bring our soldiers home.

Konami's Jackal, released in 1988, was another of Konami's very well done military themed games. It took the "rescue the prisoners" idea from Broderbund's Choplifter!, and placed it on the ground - instead of a helicopter, you control a jeep. Jackal consists of six "enemy territories" and is played from an overhead perspective. Your only weapons are a machine gun and grenades (which could be upgraded to missles).

Jackal's graphics are nothing to write home about - they're decent, but not very spectacular. It seems that Konami didn't spend too much time on the graphics but concentrated more on the gameplay, which is excellent. The jeep controls very well - the only problem is that sometimes your jeep can get hung up on a wall. The music is traditional Konami - very catchy and well done (Konami's NES games just had the greatest music!).

Your machine gun can only be fired in one direction - up. You can throw your grenades in any direction, though. The goal of the game, as stated before, is to rescue the American POWs. You must blast open the POW huts and pick up the POWs as they come running out, then deliver them to a waiting helicopter. You find other huts scattered around that are colored differently from the normal ones - inside these huts are special POWs. Each one of these that you pick up upgrades your grenades - first to a missle, then to a two-way explosive missle, and finally to a four-way explosive missle. Just to make the game challenging, though, there is only one special POW in each hut, and there's only a couple of huts in each stage. The bosses aren't very impressive, which is kind of odd when you take into account Konami's rep for creating killer bosses. The last boss, though, is very cool - it's a giant tank that attempts to cook you with a huge laser blast.

There are continues, but only a few. Unlimited continues would have been nice, seeing as how the game has a tendency to be on the tough side. One hit will destroy your jeep (and if there are any POWs on board, at least half of them will be killed - plus if you had any missle upgrades they get taken away, and you're back to the grenades). On top of that, you only start with three lives.

Now, for those of you looking for a fun way to take out your aggressions (or if you're just sadistic), there are enemy foot soldiers running around. Every so often they'll rip off a shot at you. You can either shoot them, bomb them, or (here's the fun part) RUN THEM OVER! Yes, you too can mow down unsuspecting enemy soldiers with your jeep and see their little flattened forms lying motionless on the ground. The only other game I've seen this fun little twist in recently is Steel Reign for the PlayStation (a cool arcade style 3-D tank game).

Jackal is an excellent game - not very impressive graphically, but still tons of fun. It would be nice if Konami made a 32-bit upgrade to it, but the chances of seeing that are almost nonexistent. It's a nice idea, though. . .