It's 1965. You're 19. You're content and comfortable. The last thing you expect is to be torn away from your home and your friends, have at your hair shaved off and transported seven thousand miles to Vietnam. Yup, you're drafted! No wonder the poor beggar on the title screen looks so miserable.
19 Part One - Boot Camp is based on the hippetyhoppety scritchy-scratchy pop songette which was such a big hit for Paul Hardcastle a couple of years ago. In case you don't remember, it used extracts from the documentary Vietnam Requiem to lament the fate of the 19 year olds who were drafted into the Vietnam war, made to endure a year of hell then shipped back home to general indifference. Cascade's game doesn't even get as far as Vietnam (that's being saved up for the sequel), instead, it concentrates on the arduous combat training, and, very much like Ocean's coin-op version Combat School, consists of several sub-games which must be completed in order.
There are four main sections to the game, and while none of the ideas are terribly original, they're all executed with some flair. The first is the Shooting Range, where you peer through a sniper scope which magnifies a section of the wooded landscape. On the treeline and from behind bunkers pop up shadowy figures. You must scroll in four directions until you have them in your sights, then blast away. The view through the sniperscope scrolls with astonishing speed and smoothness, but as the scope itself doesn't move at all, you may lose track of which part of the landscape you're aiming at. Some of the targets represent hostages and innocent bystanders, and shouldn't be hit. Sad but true. You have a limited amount of ammunition and a limited time in which to score enough to take you through to the next section.
The Assault Course is another challenge. here you have to steer your running figure across obstacles including plank walks, posts, barrels and monkey bars. This is a test of co-ordination with keys or joysticks, and again you're up against a time limit.
Unarmed Combat comes next; here you have your chance to get your own back on the sadistic master sergeant (not Sargeant - programmers please note...) The two combatants face each other across the gym, and have a variety of fighting moves with which to clobber each other. Energy bars to each side show your progress, and again you're playing against a time limit.
The final section is Off-road Driving, in which you jump into a jeep and steer it through a landscape of boulders, oil drums, barricades and fuel cans. Bonus stars, fuel drums and time tokens can be picked up, but you must be careful not to steer into obstacles which will bring you to a halt and lose precious seconds. The background scrolling is well done, and the landscape rises and falls, a la Super Hang On.
The music and sound effects are well up to standard, and the 128K version of Paul Hardcastle's original 19 has to be heard to be believed. There's some nice sampled speech, and as a special bonus you get a 12" remix of the song on cassette. Considering that each of the sub sections is better than many a full-price game, you can't beat 19 for value. If you don't mind the inevitable wait for the multiload, it's a corker.
Author: Paul Laidlaw, Tony Warriner
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
Multi-game combat training simulation with some fine touches.
HINTS AND TIPS
Don't waste ammunition in the shooting range. If you run out, you will lose valuable time as you reload. Don't shoot too fast either, hitting civilian' loses you points.In the Off-road Driving section, slow down when the road rises. It's difficult to see obstructions here, and you'll lose more time by colliding with them than you would by slowing down and taking things more carefully.Don't be too offensive in Unarmed Combat; remember you're fighting against the clock, so too much time wasted will lose you the bout as surely as being knocked out. Vary your moves until you find one to which the sergeant is vulnerable.Try to keep a constant rhythm on the assault course; one slip on the Monkey Bars and you can lose time and points. Remember, if you fail any part of the training course, you'll have to go back to the start!