Saturday, January 11, 2014

Rambo First Blood Part II….. A Tale of Blood Thirsty Buddists !!!

I was excited to do our FIRST EVER Sega Master System game Review and I picked Rambo First Blood Part II a game I remember seeing at Toys R Us and playing briefly at my friends house as a kid, but when I finally sat down to play it…… well Lets just get started.

In 1986 Ashura was released for the Sega Master System in Japan aka the Sega Mark III, the game had you and a optional friend take control of Ashura and Bishamon two Buddhist Monks that must take arms to set their fellow Buddhists free from a a military enemy of some sort that has kidnapped them… because why I don't know and why would monks take up machine guns and explosive composite bow ???? I mean in the 36 Chamber of Shaolin films Master San-Te just uses Shaolin Kung Fu to take on military forces, which we all know could beat even Super-Sayian-Mega-Zord-Vampire Hitler … But whatever its Sega's Party soo yeah thats the Original game but….

Also in 1986 Sega aquirred the Rights to Rambo and wanted to capitalize on the success of the second Sly Stallone film Rambo First Blood Part II which had just been released in '85. Instead of building a whole new game from scratch Sega took their Popular Bloody Buddhist Game Ashura and repurposed it with very minimal changes. In no time at all we here in North America had Rambo First Blood Part II on the Sega Master System. 

The title screen was changed to show off the Master Systems graphical power with an amazing color packed shot of Rambo taken from the Movie posters, it defiantly impressed me then and now.The games main character sprites were changed to look more like Rambo and in turn Bishamon was changed to a character the manual only describes as Rambo's partner Zane …Sure Zane you remember Zane from the movie…. No the Cartoon….no the chewing gum… Who cares it's CO-OP baby !!! And man will you need it, this game is HARD !! It may look similar to NES titles like Ikari Warriors or Commando but man this one is gonna take a lil practice for me. I had originally thought of doing a "Finisher War Journal Entry" on this one but once I sat down to play it for the first time I realized I hadn't allotted enough time for the harsh Sega learning curve.

You start off on a jungle level much like SNKs Ikari Warriors but while both games allow you to move in eight directions Rambo can only shoot in Five ? It took a few attempts till I got used to the whole pulling down to back up and shoot at the on comers trick. I started out trying to run and gun but that got me no where…. NO Literally NO Where !!! I got about "one screen" up the first handful of times I played this, I was overly embarrassed and frustrated. The Trick to Rambo is slow and steady taking out enemies that are the most immediately threatening while allowing the others to wander off screen. Some larger threats like tanks can but easily avoid by walking right past their line of fire. The speed at which you move is annoying but more so is the rate of fire of your supposed M-60 Machine gun, now I'm no Marine but I'm pretty sure a M-60 shoots more than TWO bullets at a time. The Master System does such a great job packing in all the enemies and colors and fine details that it leaves you the capability to fire only two shots at a time which is a harsh trade off but the game does look better then the other games I mentioned earlier on the NES. Oh and the SOUND !!! This game has some of the greatest music that was available at the time on 8-Bit consoles. 

If you can manage to make it past the first screen then you will need to master your alternate weapon "the Bow", fire it at the huts which hold the P.O.W.s that you are here to rescue. On the back of the Box it says they are in concentration camps and you must "Blow those Camps" I'm as shocked & appualed as you. In exchange for either the freedom or the blowing the troops throw you power ups like the question marked can that kills everyone on screen ? Yeah it leaves me questioning whats in the can? The thankful lads also restock your arrows which is good since the game requires them for two things the first as I mentioned is the Huts as that is the only way to free the hostages and secondly the End Bosses or Gates more accurately. The end of each stage brings Rambo face to face with a gate similar to Capcoms Commando. I was confused on how to pass the gate the first time I actually got up to one and wanted to kill myself when I couldn't blow it open and died at the furthest point I had gotten in 30 mins. The goal is to stay alive until you kill the required amount of enemies and then the gate flashes requiring that you fire one arrow at it for it to explode and then you may pass on to the next stage. Be warned as you pass on into the next area, the game offers no continues but does reward you with an extra life at each stage and the 2nd Player can join in at anytime only in the first two stages.

Get Up Slacker !!

Read for your self "Blow those Camps"
Either Sly's on 'roids or thats a tiny tank.

In-between each stage you are treated to a film shot showing Rambo in different scenarios, the graphics here are also altered from Ashura which orginally displayed landscapes and Buddhist statues. The game has Six Levels that I have not been through but have watched footage of in long plays on YouTube and I can say the that the Stages vary nicely in style and color unlike some old NES titles and the Gun and Arrows power ups do get better later in the game. The whole game can be beaten in 25 mins if you have the abilities. Im not gonna ruin the Final Boss for you but it is VERY similar to Ikari Warriors. Sega doesn't disappoint with a text ending like many games of the era. The ending treats you to one last shot of a nice looking Rambo graphic firing his M-60 into the air screaming as the P.O.W.s cheer on their angery hero.

A PAL European version was released entitled Secret Command and interestingly enough has the Aushra & Bishamon names but uses the Rambo and Zane sprites. It also features the Ashura title music with a slightly changed Screen Graphic.

I am deffinatly going to keep at this one until I can say "I beat it".
I strongly suggest Downloading this on the Wii's Virtual console as each region has its approiate version available to them, and here in N.America the Ashura version is also available under imports.
Click here to read the recent Master System article.

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"Ma' I did it I beat the first screen !!!!"

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