Jackal (NES)

Overview:

Released in 1988 for the NES, Jackal is a top down run and gun game. Originally, Jackal was an arcade game. Its name was changed from Top Gunner, to Jackal to avoid confusion. Within the game, you control a jeep dropped behind enemy lines. Seek out trapped POWs and  evacuate them  via helicopter. True to the Rambo style, then you kill all the baddies you can. You can check out our play-through to see it first hand.

Gameplay:

The bread and butter of all NES games. Only a game with good game play can stand the test of time, as the story and graphics will not. Jackal is at home as a co-op game, but can be played single player. The jeep you control is very responsive. It can move in any direction. Looking back through our play through, the hit box is right on point. This is crucial because a single hit will destroy your jeep.

The arsenal at your command is a machine gun, yellow dots, that only shoot north on the screen. This adds a great deal of difficulty to get around to the proper angle to utilize. The second weapon at your disposal, a grenade, can be upgraded by rescuing special flashing POWs. There are also a few hidden power up squares to find throughout the game. The grenade is unique as it can go over obstacles that block your path. Enemy hidden behind a wall/bunker throw the grenade over! Power it up and you get a quick shooting missile. This allows for more rapid fire, but it does not go over barriers. This actually makes the missile. However, when you get three upgrades and the missile will let out an explosion in four directions. The grenade and missile can be shot in any direction (thankfully!).

The pace of the game is crisp and scales nicely as the levels go. The level layout works. Each level has new unique enemies and barriers. The choke points become tighter and tighter as time goes on. Only a laser section fails in two player because of how the screen follows the jeeps.

Enemies begin with little people on the ground you can squish by running over (love that sound effect!). As the game goes other tanks, jeeps, and the dreaded red helicopter will attack. These enemies will hunt you down, so your skills better be honed by the time you get there. The boss battles are mostly run of the mill, but a sub and the final boss stand out as more challenging. Interestingly, these boss battles were added for the NES version and were not in the arcade (good call Konami!).

Co-op:

This is a must when playing Jackal. While this game can be played by a single person (difficulty just fine) it is much more enjoyable with two.  Easy strategy you can use one jeep as bait for all the turrets (that was me in our game play).  It is great to battle your partner for who can pick up the POWs or steal them when they blow up (though how do the POWs not die when the jeep explodes? …because they are batman?).  You are unable to kill your teammate via your own weapons, which makes the difficulty palatable.

Overall:

After all this time, Jackal’s gameplay holds up. It is fast paced. It scales difficulty well. Best of all it is still fun. Two player is a must in this game. It provides some strategic tricks, just do not let the other person steal all your lives! If you can get your hands on this game we highly recommend it.