Have You Played… Rambo The Video Game?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

If you’ve answered no to the question posed above, I recommend that you keep it that way. Rambo The Video Game [official site], you see, isn’t very good.

“I’m a crack shot at this,” says Marty McFly of the Wild Gunman arcade cabinet in the Cafe 80s. He shoots three quick-fire rounds, and the trio of on-screen poncho-donning antagonists are laid flat out. “CRACK SHOT!” heads the display. “You mean you have to use your hands?” scoffs the juvenile Marty had hoped to impress. “That’s like a baby’s toy.”

It’s now 2016 and we don’t have flying DeLoreans, nor hoverboards. According to the snot nosed kids from Back to the Future 2 (one of whom I recently discovered is Elijah Wood), we don’t have light-gun shooters anymore either.

Two years ago, sadly, we did still have rail shooters. We also had an officially licensed videogame franchise which chose to centre itself around a movie trilogy which reached its conclusion five months prior to the release of Super Mario Brothers 2 in 1988 – eschewing a far more recent fourth series entry just, well, because.

So, a Rambo-themed rail shooter in 2014. There’s not too much else to say, really. Generic enemies are offed by generic guns against generic scenery in a story-on-tracks which is so jarring and rushed it ironically mimics the montages of which the movies became inadvertently famous for. Sadly, this is far from satirical meta-humour, but simply poor design.

Control is too often robbed from you, and dodgy camera work results in complete disorientation. Even the genre’s core mechanic – ducking and covering – is hit or miss, depending on whether or not each level feels like including it. Worse still, clumsy QTEs plague every turn. There’s no reason why 2008’s titular rendition wasn’t included, but I’m hardly complaining. At least not about that. I very much am regarding the rest of this disaster.


  1. Jalan says:

    I have not, but I’m immediately going on the assumption that it commits the biggest sin against First Blood, in that the section of the game devoted to that particular film has John Rambo killing people despite the fact that he never kills ANYONE in the film itself.

    • klops says:

      He does stab David Caruso in the ass, though.

    • Jalan says:

      Also, just to expend more thought on why 2008’s Rambo wasn’t included – I’d guess it’s likely due to it being owned by distributor(s) other than those who have rights to the previous three films. Presumably those who wanted more than what Reef was either capable or willing to pay for in regard to licensing for inclusion in the game.

    • CartonofMilk says:

      Yeah…well the game makes you think for a long while that the First Blood section will just be QTEs in which you disarm or incapacitate cops, and yeah there’s a lot of that, but then it puts a rifle in your hands. Now you ARE encouraged to just disarm the cops or shoot their legs, more points this way, but you can still kill them. Which is obviously completely dumb. He wouldn’t have been given a pardon in Rambo II if he’d actually killed any cops. One would have been enough already, but several? now that’s just ridiculous. They should have skipped the first movie entirely. Or you know, if it had been a game made with the intent of being actually decent (meaning not on rails to begin with) it could have made for a decent stealth game section.

      • Jalan says:

        Yeah, I’d have to agree about them just excluding First Blood from it entirely given that it was a rail shooter (never having played it, I appreciate your summary of what’s able to be done in it – I must say I’m surprised they bothered with any non-lethal options at all). It goes against one of the core principles that made that film stand out (especially in contrast to the sequels – though it’s clear that the John Rambo of the sequels is what pop culture at large is somewhat doomed to remember) when the first instinct with that type of game is to kill any threat that shows up on-screen.

    • Marclev says:

      My memory of the film is very hazy, but doesn’t he blow up a helicopter (or shoot someone in a helicopter, or something like that), which is what leads to the national guard being called out?

      • Jediben says:

        No he just beats up a couple of cops and escapes the police station. In the process of tracking (and attempting to kill him), a police officer falls out of the helicopter while aiming at him and is killed.

      • klops says:

        He throws a rock at the helicopter with fatal results.

      • Jalan says:

        Like the two other comments mention, the heli scene is basically him throwing a rock at the window and startling the pilot which then leads to Art Galt falling from the heli to his death.

        People often argue that Rambo is responsible for the death but it really depends on how you consider the situation.

        • klops says:

          I just found out that in the original 1972 novel Rambo disembovels Art with a razor :D

          • Jalan says:

            Yeah, the disconnect between the novel and film versions of First Blood is fairly big. Not a bad thing, since both the novel and film are excellent (though I’ll admit the novel was a “read once” type for me while I enjoy a re-watch of the film more frequently).

        • Phasma Felis says:

          Didn’t he throw the rock because Galt was trying to shoot him from the heli, against orders, while hanging out the side without a safety line like an idiot? I’d say obvious self-defense at worst.

  2. Turkey says:

    The whole game is like a HD remake of shitty PSX game that never existed.

  3. vorador says:

    Yes i did, and i enjoyed it immensely.

    Wait, you’re not talking about the 1985 title for Spectrum, Amstrad and Commodore?

    Get off my lawn, then.

  4. ephesus64 says:

    Oh yeah, I remember that one! This might have been around the time I first started reading RPS regularly:
    link to rockpapershotgun.com
    That is a shiny, shiny man. But oh hey, co-op!

  5. Boult Upright says:

    I bought it, but have never played it. My purchase came with a bonus Rambo figurine that now stands beside my Vault Boy Bobblehead. I view the purchase as 10 Aussie dollars for a figurine, with a free game included

  6. thekelvingreen says:

    I have played Rambo but it looked a bit different:

  7. geldonyetich says:

    I remember playing the C64 version. It was basically a pared down Ikari Warriors/Commando with an enemy death animation that made it look like they were being dragged to hell. Good enough game for its time, especially the music, but the helicopter segment at the end was pretty bad.

    Damn, I’m old.

    Anyway, as pertains to the 2014 game, it was a movie tie-in to a movie that was itself a throwback. I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot joystick, but it’s hard to be critical of something so insubstantial that it’s a fair achievement to stop it from blowing away in a light wind. Well done that they made it install, play, and uninstall smoothy.

  8. planet Jane says:

    I always thought it was a shame that when most people think of the term “rail shooter” garbage like this comes to mind before something like *Panzer Dragoon ORTA*.

    • Jalan says:

      Rambo aside, I’d be perfectly okay with developers attempting to make competent rail shooters again. The last one I know of that had a PC release was Blue Estate and, while not terrible, it was rough. Joe writing them off in the article as if they’re something best left in gaming’s past is just maddening as well.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      I don’t understand why Panzer Dragoon is considered a “rail shooter.” It’s a shmup, like Star Fox. If you can maneuver at all, you’re not on rails.

      (Apparently Wikipedia considers Star Fox a rail shooter. What? What the hell?)

  9. Don Reba says:

    Ah, Rambo, the everyday hero. Who can honestly say there isn’t a little Rambo inside him?

  10. AthanSpod says:

    And here I thought you were referring to link to youtube.com