Review by KasketDarkfyre

Reviewed: 10/28/03

Another Konami classic...

Konami has always been known to bring great action and adventure games to the NES and has done so with games such as Metal Gear and Top Gun. Another entry into the Konami library is a little known game called Jackal, which features some pretty intense action in the run and gun genre. Although it doesn’t compare to other games that Konami has done in the past, Jackal is a wonderful addition to the genre simply based on the fact that it is so simple to pick up and play. If you’re seeking out a little adventure on a quiet afternoon and want to save the world from your living room, then this is the title to run with.

The story of Jackal is pretty cut and dry in terms of the overall premise. You’ll find that there is an enemy lurking around the take over the world and it is up to you and your team to stop them before things too far out of control. In the process, you’ll have to rescue your comrades who have been taken and held prisoner throughout several stages of jeep gunning and grenade throwing goodness. For those of you who are familiar with games such as Iron Tank, you’ll find yourself at home with this title in terms of easy controls and basic game play wrapped in a small hard plastic casing.

Game play is fairly simply in the respect that you and a friend, or just yourself can play through this game, by using a military jeep. This jeep comes equipped with all the world-saving tools such as a machine gun and some grenades to take out your enemies from all angles. Something that you have to learn at the beginning is that the machine gun only fires forward, while the hand grenade is tossed in whatever direction you happen to be facing at the moment. When you rescue certain prisoners, you will find yourself upgrading your grenade into more powerful rockets that start out small, but eventually grow to have a larger blast radius.

The further you get into the stages, the more you will have to worry about enemies coming out of the woodwork. While the first couple of stages aren’t all that difficult, you will have planes dropping bombs on you after the third stage and the action becomes twice as intense. As you drive through the stages, you’ll see housing that can blown up and people that can be rescued. These prisoners are important, namely because they add more points to your score at the end of each stage when you drop them at a helicopter pick-up point. Other prisoners will upgrade your weapon to help you in your continued fight against the enemy. Boss characters can be found at the end of each of the stages, and like most games of this type, there is a pattern that can be found in just a couple of seconds to help you defeat them.

No worries if you get blown up, because you can continue once your lives run our, though there is no password system that I could find. The control here is excellent, allowing you to move in all eight directions on the directional pad which in turn helps in some of the more intense battles when you have to run. My only complaint with the game play is that there isn’t much here other than a ground based version of another rescue game called Choplifter. Though this isn’t a problem if you haven’t played Choplifter, for those of you who have, you’ll notice the gently sloping difficulty level that is easy to fall into and fun once you’ve got it down right.

Visually, Jackal is seen from the top down view and has plenty of basic detail to denote the different enemies and your jeep. While the upgrades to your jeep are not apparent when you pick them up, the animations on the weapon explosions is what you’ll notice. From a simple hand grenade to a huge rocket explosion, gunfire and the enemies that attack you from all directions, there is plenty here to please the eye. Stage locations are done in a fashion that matches the points on the map, from a jungle to the inner city warfare. All in all, there is plenty to see, even in the most basic terms, and there is hardly a sign of image break-up which takes the presentation a long way when the action gets hairy.

The audio on the other hand suffers from simplicity and doesn’t change throughout the entire game. You have your points where the music seems just a little different than the last stage, but the small change really doesn’t do much to bring new tones to the table. Sound effects are limited to your standard gunfire and explosions, but there is no screaming and the explosions tend to sound a little flat in the long run. Aside from this, the only other audio presentation that caught me off guard was the introduction of the boss battles, which gives the music a little more tempo and sense of urgency.

Jackal is one of those games in a long line of titles from Konami that is worth playing simply based on the game play alone and the simplicity of which it is presented to you. The game play starts out light and easy and eventually gets difficult the further you get into the game, which is a plus when you’re looking for the sloping difficulty. Much like other Konami games, there is the two-player option that gives you and your friend the ability to blow things up without prejudice and rescue the good guys. With very few complaints laying in the way that the game sounds, there isn’t much here that you could find wrong with it other than it is over in just a couple of hours or less depending on how well you play. Much like the other classics, this one is worthy of your attention in either the playing or collecting capacity, and for a couple of bucks at the local game store, it’s worth the money.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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