Review Information
Reviewer Name: choplifter
Game Difficulty: Hard
Difficulty Options: False
Game Information
Full Title: Rambo First Blood: Part II
Year Released: 1986
Game Type: Shooting
Max Players: 2

While the Sega Master System might be remembered best for games like Sonic, Alex Kidd, or Monster Boy, there were a number of games that were very popular because their ties to movies or real life people. Reggie Jackson Baseball was picked over Great Baseball to be brought into the newer style packaging because of this, as was Rambo First Blood Part II. These games, while maybe not the best the system has to offer, are still fun till this day...if you have the patience. While on the surface, the game looks similar to The Ninja, and even looks infinitely better than it, don't let looks deceive you. The game is no where near the same level of quality.
Rambo First Blood Part II can be best described as a Contra clone. Like with The Ninja, all the levels are from a top down perspective, and you are forced out into combat as Rambo, the one man army, to go deep into enemy territory to rescue your comrades from concentration camps. Gameplay is fairly simple. Your main weapon is an M-60. Bullets are depicted as what look like white softballs, and bullets of the enemy can be nullified if your bullets hit each other in a cross fire. You also have access to arrow bombs. Arrow bombs can be obtained by destroying native's straw huts along the way. Upon destroying their home, they give you arrow bombs. Does it make sense? Well, no.. no it doesn't. While this sounds simple enough on paper, it is much harder in practice. Lining up your shots to nullify enemy fire is much harder than it should be. Often times a bullet won't be deflected, and will kill you, ending you life instantly. Enemies have everything from machine guns, flame throwers, tanks and rocket launchers to take you down, and unfortunately, you never feel as powerful as you think you should be... being Rambo and all. In fact, it seems all too easy to die. While many games from this era are hard, due to their ties to the arcades, this seems nearly unforgivably hard, to the point where it reaches nearly unfair. The game seems to be designed to kill you at any turn, with native huts placed where enemy fire is more saturated, enemies seemingly having better control than you and more maneuverability, small hit boxes on enemy fire (making them harder to nullify), and a decidedly low amount of lives at your disposal.
The graphics are very well done. Once again, comparing this to The Ninja, it stands out with larger sprites, better animation, and better backgrounds. Nice touches like death animations, soldiers in grass or mud who actually look like they're walking through the background, and interesting locations all make for some great eye candy. Unfortunately, if you're playing the game and not just watching someone play, you won't have much time to take it all in as the gameplay is all too frantic.
Sound & Music
The sounds and music are about what you would expect. Each weapon has it's own sound effects, explosions have sound effects, etc. Music is your standard fare. There's nothing terribly memorable, and it seems at best, it can be described as background filler. While it's not of bad quality, it's hardly something you will find yourself humming later in the day.
This is where the game falls apart. Rambo has a very hard time turning his body compared to his enemies. It almost seems like a chore to ask Rambo to fire in multiple directions as he is surrounded as he doesn't seem nearly as lighting quick as he does in the movies. Another thing that hurts the game is that unlike in The Ninja, strafing fire is completely missing from the game. This makes shooting and walking much harder than it should be, and given how many enemies are on the scree at once, a better control option would be greatly helped out the difficulty of the game. Unfortunately, what you are left with is a near unplayable, frustrating mess. It doesn't seem so terrible at first.. maybe even fun. But once you have played The Ninja, there honestly is no reason to ever come back to this game as it's simply not nearly as good in every way except it's visual appeal.
Replay Value
Music & Sound
Replay Value
At first you will try, like with most games on the SMS, to replay this over and over to get better. And the game certainly succeeds in drawing you in for a few extra play throughs to see if you can get further than before. Where the game fails though is when you realize getting further is nearly impossible. You start realizing that it's not you who is bad at the game, but the game that is bad at presenting you entertainment worth playing through.
With it's dodgy controls, the game feels downright unplayable. And with other similar titles that have beautiful controls, there really are no excuses for a game like this to control in such a manor. While graphics are impressive, and animations are admirable, it's hard to enjoy what is around you when you feel like you are wrestling with the controller to move Rambo in a manor that works. The inability to shoot at enemies below you is another huge problem as this forces your character to shoot only to the left, right and in the three directions above you. This limited control takes away strategy that could make the game significantly better. In fact, I dare say that if you took the control scheme from the Ninja and used Rambo's graphics and level layout, you'd most likely have the best over top shooter of the 8 Bit generation. And it's this huge stumble that takes the game down from memorable and great, to frustrating and forgettable.
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