Jackal (NES) Review

Click here to view the Jackal (NES) description page for screenshots and more information.

Review by Cowboy Yojimbo (June 2019)

    Satellites have picked up American prisoners of war still trapped in enemy territory along the fringes of the Cambodian border. Rather than mounting an invasion that could risk retaliation, the government looks to the Green Berets for their tactical “Jeep Squad”. Four of these men were chosen; two drivers, and two gunners. Sgt. Quint, Indy car driver turned mercenary. Lt. Bob, the finest sharpshooter in the history of the Green Berets. Col. Decker, the commander of this operation and Medal of Honor recipient in Vietnam. And Cpl. Grey, winner of six European Gran Prix races, and considered the greatest stunt driver since Evil Bo Weivel.

They are The Jackals.

If that isn’t a cool enough set-up, you can read on.

     The team will fight their way through six stages, with ruins, mountains and jungles among other things. Each level has a clear and unique identity with its own hazards, such as deep water to slow your speed or laser defenses that require delicate timing. Visually, the locations are very detailed, but are realized in a clean style doesn’t get in the way of the gameplay by obscuring enemies or bullets.

    The objective is to clear a path, and rescue the prisoners from small compounds by blowing a hole in the side of the building and picking them up. Prisoners can be dropped off at a helicopter further into the level. If you get hit, you will suffer casualties and some of your prisoners will get scattered about meaning you’ll have to quickly pick them up. More prisoners rescued means a higher score, and a higher score means more lives. End of the levels have a boss fight that can range from a strong singular unit, to an enemy squad of their own.

    The (B) button fires the jeeps machine gun, which will always fire northward, while (A) lobs a grenade in the direction the jeep is facing. The grenade can be upgraded to a missile, and then a few more times after to give its explosion more reach. Enemies will come from land, sea and air. Tanks, boats, planes, choppers and foot soldiers are all there. The soldiers can also be run over which is always a joy, albeit a risky one. 

    The way the shooting mechanics operate make your approach on enemies and installations very important, and add an interesting element of strategy to an otherwise arcade like shoot-em-up. Difficulty is sloping, easing you in with the first level, but quickly builds momentum. A two player mode is also available which brings in the whole squad; you will play as a green and tan jeep. There are no big changes to the game but it’s a fun way to go through the whole thing.

For pure co-op action, there is little to rival Jackal in the NES catalogue outside of Contra, and you will likely find yourself returning to it solo or with a friend. 

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