Review by RJLilley
If this game had a storyline, it would be an 8 or a 9 for sure.
When somebody comes up to you, and says they have a game which is like Contra, but in a tank, you have to play it. Jackal is the first game for the Nintendo Entertainment System I have reviewed, and rightfully so, some slack will be given. Jackal is a game which stands the test of time in my humble opinion, as it is a game you can play for hours to kill time. If you're a hardcore gamer, you're going to love this game. The balance in Jackal is pretty nice. The first level is the easiest, while the levels gradually get more difficult. If you're a casual gamer, you may want to go elsewhere. I'll go into more detail regarding this statement later, as it mainly has to do with the controls, and the game difficulty.
In terms of characters, and storylines, Jackal doesn't have much to offer. The main character is you, the tank driver. You're fighting in some war, taking down the opposition, while trying to save as many "prisoners of war" as possible. By saving more POWs, you gain powerups to your tank which will make the enemies easier to take down. All in all, this game's weakness is the lack of storyline. You have to create your own, so an imagination is required! In all seriousness, these two categories should not be taken seriously. The game is still highly enjoyable, even without an elaborate storyline.
The controls in Jackal are fantastic, if you like a challenge. You start with two weapons. Bullets, and grenades. Grenades can be tosses any which way, based on the direction your tank is facing. There is a slight delay with the tossing and the explosion of the grenade, which ensures you cannot just continuously fire, destroying everything in your path. Your bullets ALWAYS just fire north. You cannot fire any other way, and this creates a whole new strategic element to the game. In my humble opinion, this will turn off casual gamers. It creates a more difficult game, and frustration is sure to set in. For someone like myself, who enjoys a bit of a challenge, I do not mind having to strategize my every move. The tank moves very well, and is very responsive. Very rarely will you ever press a wrong button, so if you lose, you only have yourself to blame!
I am a fan of old school graphics, and Jackal certainly does not disappoint. The tanks are drawn very nicely, the buildings are detailed enough for my liking, and it's very clear who the enemies and allies are. The only drawback I found while playing this game, are the lame yellow bullets you're used to seeing in old NES games. It's something that is easy to ignore however, as the scenary is rather beautiful. The graphics are one of the game's strengths, and should be enjoyed. However, if you're caught looking around too much, you'll explode! Take that into consideration. Overall, I enjoy the planes, the tanks and the soldiers, as well as everything else. Like most Capcom games, details were not forgotten!
The music in Jackal is upbeat, and gets you excited to blow up some "commies". (Are the enemies communists? Who knows? But 'blowing up commies' is a fun phrase.) As you're driving, you can fire your funs, shoot your missles, and it all sounds semi-realistic. For a video game, it's relatively perfect. There are three different songs in this game, all of which are used twice. (First and fourth, second and fifth, and third and sixth levels.) The switch is just enough to not be annoying.
In conclusion, I'd say Jackal is a great game for the hardcore gamer. It's enough of a challenge to not get boring, but sometimes can get frustrating. Casual gamers will let this get to them, and will probably put the game down after a few minutes. The replayability for this game is average, but because it's an old school NES game, I'd still recommend buying it if possible. I wouldn't spend anymore than $15-20 though. I'd pay a little on the large side, as I have never seen the actual cartridge in any local store. (This obviously includes second hand shops, as they are my main source of old school games.) If you're someone who needs an elaborate storyline, with a wonderful cast of characters to enjoy a game, you're in trouble. If you play Jackal for what it is, a classic Capcom game which can provide hours of enjoyment, you'll get what you put into it! If only wish you could fire those bullets east, west and south though...! Oh well. The game isn't perfect by any stretch, but hey. It's a good time for sure. Spend a Saturday afternoon giving games like Jackal a chance. You won't be disappointed.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Jackal (US, 09/30/88)
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