Jackal ZX Spectrum
This was an arcade game that ate a bucket load of my loose change back in the day. I loved it, and I was pretty good at it too :-)
So, when it was being converted to the good old Speccy in 1987 by Konami (who had developed the coin-op version) I was rather excited.
I needn't have been as this game turned out to be a complete turkey...
For fans of the original arcade game the plot will be familiar; drive around in your jeep killing enemy soldiers, destroying vehicles, gun emplacements and buildings.
It was classic run 'n gun action that was simple enough and fun enough down your local arcade.
The squad was a four-man team composed of Colonel Decker, Lieutenant Bob, Sergeant Quint and Corporal Grey sent to rescue soldiers kept as hostages by the enemy. One or two players controlled the teams in an armed jeep, in which you had to venture through several enemy strongholds to rescue your buddies.
In each of the six levels, the goal was to rescue POWs from various buildings and then transfer them to dust-off locations where a chopper would take them to safety.
Once the soldiers were rescues the player(s) had to defeat (in classic arcade fashion) a boss enemy at the end of each level. If you made it to the final level, there were two bosses for you to take out.
As with most arcade games, there was a scoring system that would grant the player extra lives depending on the score attained.
If a collision occured with an enemy vehicle or if the jeep was hit by an enemy bullet, a life was lost. No surprises there.
For rescuing your buddies you could receive various rewards. Some buildings contained one flashing prisoner; if this man was rescued the jeep's primary weapon (a machine gun) was upgraded. In addition, if enough prisoners were rescued, a weapon upgrade was given during the unloading process to the rescue chopper.
The Jeep's initial weapons consisted of a machine gun and a grenade launcher. The grenade launcher was upgradeable into a rocket launcher, which could be further upgraded to shoot long-range missiles, and two kinds of spread missiles.
These powerups were excellent and needed as you progressed through the game.
It should be noted that in the arcade versions I played the machine gun always fired upwards, but there were versions where it fired in the direction the jeep was facing. This method was employed in the ZX Spectrum version of the game.
This all worked well in the original arcade game and for me was up there with Commando and Ikari-Warriors. It's a shame that the Speccy version seems to be a lazy port over with poor graphics, jerky scrolling, stodgy controls and little playability.
The screen moves so badly you can barely see an enemy before it is on top of you meaning you can be shot before you even know where it came from. The graphics are terrible, and the scrolling is more jerky than a slice of beef jerky that is being jerked around by a jerk.
This conversion of a good arcade game was sooo bad it still brings me out in a cold sweat. Yearghs!
The original arcade game was never mega-popular but the game was reasonably anticipated and a preview appeared in good old crash magazine. When it was released in late 1987 most mags and gamers noted the game as yet another poor arcade conversion, something which had plagued all of the 8-bit machines. There was nothing worse than a half-arsed attempt at converting an arcade game to a home computer.
The Test Of Time:
Well twenty odd years on and this game is as bad as ever. The original coin-op is still worth a blast but please avoid this one on yer Speccy. Comedy value only.
We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download a ZX Spectrum emulator and download anything but this game for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
GENRE: Arcade Game (Vertical Scroller)
RELEASE DATE: 1987
RELEASED BY: Konami Ltd
DEVELOPER(S): Cyclone (David Whitehouse, Stephen Lockley, Adrian Carless)
PRICE: £7.95 - UK (£2.99 on re-release)
It should have been classic arcade action:
Arcade Games, Classic Games and ZX Spectrum Games
3 Feb 2011
Jackal ZX Spectrum