IF IMAGINE thinks it can turn you into a hero just by making you wear a funny hat, it's got another think coming. By the third game I was sweating with hardly enough strength to lift a fork, let alone a knife. More training required. The game - very much in the Commando mould - is an almost perfect replica of Konami's Green Beret arcade machine in its graphics, the tactics needed to avoid the enemy and its plot to rescue four wilting hostages.
Sounds familiar? Forget about the scenery. As a story line it is almost exactly the same as Rambo but blows Ocean's effort out of sight in the graphics and game play stakes. Rambo tends to be very sparse on vegetation. By comparison, Green Beret is positively burgeoning with detailed graphics and colourful backdrops - which include the harbour, the bridge, and the hostages at the prison camp.
To reach them you jump, duck, fire and stab your way through four scenarios. The first, the 'bridge and missile base' is supposed to be easy. Believe me, it's not.
The bridge itself has three levels so you can at least dodge the hoards of suicidal maniacs who leap upon you from all directions. As a well trained commando you should have no problems sorting out this motley bunch - just whip out your dagger and start stabbing while leaping from level to level to confuse the devils. The enemy have several tactics. Soldiers which run fast often carry guns. Duck or leap over the bullets or you'll disappear in a puff of smoke. Others leap - listen for the 'boing,' 'boing' sound, jump up to meet them in mid-air and use your knife. Ordinary patrols can be dispatched with a spot of nifty knife work but watch your back.
At the end of the bridge dodge the mortar fire and run to the missile launchers. You'll be attacked from all directions but if you time it right you should be able to climb on to the launchers and run across the top. That way you'll dodge three flashing mines concealed at ground level.
The graphics are excellent, not as highly coloured as the original arcade version or even the Commodore version, but with an incredible amount of detail. Sound is minimal and I miss the rousing marching jingle that went with the arcade game. That's on the 48K - the loud splutter and pops you hear on a 128K almost make up for the lack of music.
Additional weapons can be picked up by killing the enemy Commandant. He'll leave behind either a flame thrower, grenade or rocket launcher which becomes yours until you've used it three times, or until you're killed. One useful tip is to save the bonus weapons to the end of the screen where you'll need all the additional fire power you can get your hands on.
Now you can storm the harbour. Use the storage containers as levels and, again, try to outwit the enemy. Full marks to Imagine for sticking so closely to detail.
With practice you'll learn which soldiers and objects to dodge, duck and jump and your rescue mission will stand more chance of success. After the harbour it's on to the hostages, and the prison camp. One small grouse. If you're playing with a joystick and you want to use one of the special weapons, you have to press a key on the keyboard - it's virtually impossible to do this with ease while holding the joystick base with one hand and pushing the stick to move right with the other. By the time you manage it it's highly likely that you'll have been killed, in which case you lose your weapons.
You'll find Green Beret more challenging than Commando - another game in this reactionary Ramboesque Smash the Red Threat phase. Commando closely follows its arcade counterpart and though play is different in terms of strategy. Green Beret wins hands down. Great programming. Anyone who gets anywhere near the hostages please tell me how you did it.
Programmer: Jonathan Smith
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair, cursor
Sprint across the top of the missile launchers ̶ that way you avoid the enemy and the mines below.
Coming face to face with an enemy commando. Make sure you avoid the flashing mines under the bridge.
Left: A brief moment of calm before running into the next hot spot.