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|Rating:||4 out of 5|
I have many fond memories of sitting in front of the TV as a kid playing Jackal. This game hails from the arcades, known then as Top Gunner and is a simple concept set in an overhead scroller. The name-swap seemed to try and tie the game to the movie, Top Gun.The key to this game is power ups. That's the best way to upgrade weapons and defeat the onslaught of enemies.
I've heard there are different shooting scenarios between arcade and NES versions. The difference being where your machinegun aims/shoots. In this NES version you always shoot upward (toward the top of the screen), thus all engagements need to come from below. Other weapons fire in the direction your Jeep is traveling. It's an interesting change and I can't come up with a reason for that other than to alter the game's difficulty. The arcade controls were simple enough, so I can't imagine it had to do with porting it to other platforms.
Return to 'Nam - Infrared satellites soaring miles above Earth have spotted dozens of American prisoners of war still trapped on enemy soil. Missing for years but never forgotten, these men must be brought home. But America is in no position to risk an all-out invasion that could prompt retaliation. Instead, the only possible hope for their freedom is a small scale commando raid - code name Jackal.
Immediately the President turns to the Green Berets and their combat-ready, tactical infiltrating "Jeep Squad". The Jeep Squad is comprised of twenty all-terrain, four-wheel drive, super-mobile attack jeeps, each equipped with one driver and one gunner. Only forty of the Green Berets' bravest and most cunning soldiers belong to this elite fighting force, and because of the secrecy of the mission, only a few of them qualify for the rescue attempt.
Needless to say, you've been chosen to be one of the few, the proud, the Jackals. So work up your courage and polish up your guns, because it's time to save the life of each and every brave American POW. And before you go, your country would just like to say, "Good luck, son. Don't come home alone."
The Jackal squad is team comprised of Colonel Decker, Lieutenant Bob, Sergeant Quint and Corporal GreyYou begin your mission on the Cambodian border with 3 lives (Jeeps). As you rescue POWs, you will get more lives. A great facet to Jackal is the 2-player simultaneous option. It's nice to see that was preserved in this port.
You must shoot or run over enemy soldiers... and shoot pretty much everything else. Upon destroying a building, POWs may emerge for rescue. You'll need to destroy all buildings to ensure locating all prisoners. Success comes from driving them to the helipad where stealth helicopters are waiting to extract them.
Some say this game is too short since you only have six areas to assault. That may be true, but there is a strategy to clearing levels and staying alive isn't as easy as you might think. Many scrolling games scroll relative to a fixed position. Often you can maneuver somewhat within these scrolling areas. Jackal differs in that it isn't a fast-paced space shooter. It is by no means "slow", but keep in mind this is a ground-assault in a Jeep - not a formula one race.
You have a fair amount of screen area to traverse before scrolling initiates. In other words, if you drive north you'll need to get pretty close to the top of the screen before it will scroll to reveal enemies. This can put you much closer to enemies giving you less time to react. This scroll model works in all directions, so advancing is done somewhat cautiously to avoid racing into enemy fire... or worse!
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