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

Your Sinclair Issue 3, Mar 1986   page(s) 28


If only life was like the movies - then no man, no law, no war would've stopped me! As it is, I had a terrible time just staying alive let alone securing the release of every Yank north of Saigon.

The game begins just after our muscle-bound megastar has been dropped into the jungle, at the start of his mission - reconnaissance only, you understand, with orders not to engage the enemy. You are armed with an endless supply of grenades and knives but if you do encounter the enemy in the first section it's advisable to rely only on the latter. The noise of the grenades is sure to bring the massed ranks of the Red Army into the battle.

You'll find all the weapons you need randomly scattered around the first part of the game - and there are extra points for collecting them. The only other way to amass points is to kill everything that moves - and a few things that don't! Only when you've crossed the banks of the river into the enemy's camp does the action start to hot up. There you have to locate the hostage and release him before heading north again to free the rest of his compatriots.

Rambo is best described as a thinking man's Commando. That game starts fast and gets faster until you end up like a one-man whirlwind. Rambo develops into a solid shoot 'em up but it just doesn't seem to be such a drain on the old adrenalin. Somehow it lacks the excitement of Elite's number one hit - perhaps it's the larger playing area, maybe it's the slower start or could it just be the amount of strategy involved? After all, who ever heard of Rambo having to think?

Graphics: 8/10
Playability: 8/10
Value For Money: 8/10
Addictiveness: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 46, Oct 1989   page(s) 47


Never a man to miss out on a spicy low-pricey, Jonathan Davies sifts through this month's batch of good, bad and downright ugly budget games.

The Hit Squad
Reviewer: Jonathan Davies

Another rechauffe offering which features everyone's favourite diplomat. The plot is predictable enough - stampede through the jungle committing multiple homicide in all directions. Likewise through a village, rescuing a prisoner, leaping aboard a helicopter and so on.

I seem to remember this being one of the first licensed games that anybody actually liked, and it still looks quite good all these years later. Only 'quite' mind. The scrolling is the sort that waits 'til you get to the edge of the screen, then frantically whizzes the next bit on. This looks crude and makes it tricky to see who's going to be next to shoot you. Otherwise the graphics are generally fine, particularly the village houses which can be reduced to ruins with one grenade. Sound is pretty puny (these were the pre-128 days after all) which is a shame as this game is really all about massive explosions and ear-wax curdling screams.

As a full-pricer it would look decidedly crap these days, but at three quid Rambo is a darned sight better than most of the purpose-built cheapie stuff around.

Overall: 80%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 60, Dec 1990   page(s) 59

Coming, erm, now actually, to a cinema near you...


Knowing full well what a square-eyed bunch you are, we thought it was about time you were given the facts on film and television licenced games. Once again, JONATHAN DAVIES was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

(Cough. Deep, manly voice.)

'In the beginning there were loads and loads of Speccy games. Loads of them. They sold all right, but not exactly in enormous numbers. The trouble was, you see, that none of them seemed particularly exciting. They had nothing that caught the public eye. They were just computer games. Had no 'cred'.

Then a small cog within a long-since-extinct software house had an idea.

"Why don't we give our next game the same name as an incredibly popular film? Then everyone would buy it just because they'd seen the film and they'd foolishly think the game would be just as good. How about i, eh?"

"Er, we could do, I suppose."


"But what if the film company finds out? They might sue us or something."

"Oh yeah."


"I know - we could ask them first."

"That's a point. Go on then."

"What? Me?"

"Yeah. Give them a ring and ask if they'd mind."

"Oo-er. Cripes. Okay then." (Dials very long trans-Atlantic phone number.)

"Hullo. We'd like to name our new game after your film and we were wondering if it was okay by you. Right... yes... oh, I see." (Cups hand over receiver.) "They want us to give them lots of money."

"Erm, well in that case we'd better." (Removes hand.) "Yes, that'll be fine. We'll send you some right away. Bye."


"But. er..."


"How are we going to come up with a game that's anything like the film?"

"I don't know really."

"How about if we have a bloke walking around shooting people?"

"That sounds fine. I'll program it right away."

And so the film and telly licence was born. It... cough. Choke.

Oops. There goes the deep, manly voice.

Anyway, film and telly games, eh? Everyone's doing them these days, as they're one of the few remaining ways of making serious money with computer games. Run a grubby finger down the charts and you'll find nearly all the top-sellers are film and telly licences. (Or arcade conversions, of course.)

But why do we keep buying them? After all, just because a game's named after a really brill film doesn't mean it's going to be any good, does it? Surely we aren't buying them simply because of the flashy name on the box?

Erm, well in the old days, software houses assumed this to be the case, and chucked out a stream of absolutely appalling games with 'big name' titles. Things like Miami Vice, The Dukes Of Hazard and Highlander were all pretty dreadful, but it was hoped that they'd sell on the strength of their names. But we weren't fooled. Oh no. The games didn't sell well, and the companies were forced to think again.

Eventually they came up with... the 'bloke walking around shooting things' idea. And they've used it more or less ever since. Lucky then that they tend to be jolly good all the same, and sometimes come up with the odd original idea to spice things up (like The Untouchables did, or perhaps Back To The Future Part II).


As always seems to be the case, the trusty YS ratings system doesn't really seem adequate when it comes to film and telly games. So here's what we've put together instead...

What does it look like? Nice? Or not very nice at all? (You mean are the graphics any good? Ed) Er, yes. That's it in a nutshell. (Then why didn't you just say the first place? Ed) Erm...

How does the general atmosphere compare to the film or telly programme the game's meant to go with? Have programmers just taken a bog-standard game and stuck a flashy name on it? Or have they made an effort to incorporate a bit of the 'feel' of the original?

Does the plot follow along the same sort of lines as the film or telly programme? Is there plenty action-packedness? And is the game the same all way through, or does it follow the original's twists and turns?

Um, how does the game compare to all the licences around at the moment? Is it better? Or worse? In other words, is it a 'cut' above the rest? (is that really the best you can manage? Ed)


This one goes back - a bit, being one of the first film games ever. (Quite possibly number two after Ghostbusters.) And, of course, it stars Rambo who walks round shooting people. He's got a large map to wander round though and plenty of weapons to collect, along with an overhead view to make them easier to spot. After plodding round the jungle fighting off enemy soldiers for a bit he comes across the enemy village which can only be got into at a certain point (a bridge, in fact). In there he finds the hostage he's after, who needs cutting free, and then moves on to find a helicopter and fly it to freedom.

Considering its age (five-ish), Rambo isn't bad at all. The range of weapons available is well thought-out, with the ones that do the most damage tending to attract the attention of more enemy troops. The only trouble is the jerky 'flipping'scroll system and the graphics, which tend to be mainly empty black spaces. A good one.

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Lights: 65%
Camera: 60%
Action: 85%
Cut: 80%
Overall: 78%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 48, Mar 1986   page(s) 35

Publisher: Ocean
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K
Joystick: Sinclair, Kempston, cursor

Charging like a maniac through the paddy fields and forests of Vietnam is Rambo - a born killer if ever there was one.

His mission: to photograph a POW camp so that the US army can move into free the prisoners. His brief: Do not engage the enemy. Do not attempt to rescue. Being a bear of little brain Rambo will do exactly the opposite as his chivalrous and killer instincts take over. One man against the might of the Vietnamese army, he wades into free the POWs single-handed.

Rambo is - surprise, surprise - based on the film and follows the plot of the movie as far as possible. As Rambo spends most of the time blasting everything in his path, that has been quite easy to recreate on computer. Thankfully the designers have left out the blood and guts and the game is quite free from gore.

You start off in the jungle, armed with only a knife and grenade. The knife is the best weapon at first, it is deadly when thrown by an expert and, more importantly, it is silent. You must be as quiet as possible to avoid alerting the Vietnamese patrols.

Before making your run up to the prison camp, which lies north of your start point, scout around to find some more weapons. Rambo can carry an arsenal with him to cater for every eventuality, including a rocket launcher which should only be used when in a helicopter, a machine gun - excellent for mowing down the enemy, and two arrows - one equipped with an explosive warhead.

Once the enemy patrols are onto you there is not much point trying to remain silent and I found the machine gun just the thing for mowing down two or three of the enemy in one spurt. Of course, once you have alerted them, more patrols are drafted into the area.

In the start area are many trees - natural ambush placements - a temple and some sort of monolith. The significance of these escapes me but they offer a place of refuge should the going get too hot.

Once you have found the arrows make a run for the camp. You'll find running in a zigzag the best for avoiding enemy bullets. The Vietnamese can disappear into an area outside the border of the screen, so don't stand too close to that no man's land. Someone might appear next to you and take a pot shot. If that happens you'll lose one of your four lives.

Once at the camp, follow the barbed wire fencing round until you find a bridge. Blow it up by selecting the exploding arrow from the weapons display.

Once inside, avoid the guards, race around the bamboo huts and search for Banks, a former comrade who is tied to a bamboo cross. With your knife chop him free - that happens automatically when you get close enough. Now make your escape to the north where a helicopter waits to transport you and the vital role of film to Thailand and safety.

If you manage to survive the pursuing forces, you must get the chopper to send for reinforcements and, leaving Banks in relative safety, you do the honourable thing and return to rescue the remaining POWs.

Back to the camp and armed with your knife, chop them free while dodging the hoards of irate guards. Lead them back to the helicopter and you're almost safely home. Warning! One last hazard remains. The Vietnamese send one of their helicopter gunships in hot pursuit. This is where your rocket launcher comes into play. Arm it and blast the enemy chopper out of the skies.

A few hints might help you complete your mission. Don't use loud weapons unnecessarily - they will only alert the guards to your whereabouts. When in camp don't stand still. Move as swiftly and silently as possible.

Only two-thirds of the screen is taken up with the playing area which is narrow but very long. The third section holds the score table detailing weapons collected and lives remaining. Your score leaps up when you find the various weapons and 100 or 200 points are awarded for each enemy soldier killed.

After all the publicity Rambo has received my first impression was one of disappointment. The graphics are sparse and the characters small. However, movement is smooth and though there is some colour clash, that doesn't detract from the game.

A rendition of Stars and Stripes is played each time you die - a reminder of the film's unpleasant jingoism.

Overall: 3/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Issue 26, Nov 1989   page(s) 113

Hit Squad, £2.99
Spectrum, C64, Amstrad

This was Ocean's biggie for Christmas '86. A four directional scrolling shoot 'em up pinned on the fame of the Stallone commando movie hero, but owing a major debt to the Capcom coin-op - Commando.

More hostage to be rescued behind enemy lines - but this time the player needs eyes in the back of his head as the enemy troops come at you from all directions. A variety of weapons are at your disposal including grenades, bazookas, and an army knife. Later in the game you have to find the chopper and ferry our more hostages. Graphics based on a Vietnam scenario as per the film are coded to a high standard on all 8-bit machines. Tough shoot 'em up with a fair degree of planning and strategy required to be successful.

Overall: 4/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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