Dateline : 10th November 2011


One third of the way through the 30 days of gaming the pressure is most definitely on. After all which other 20 games will be slapped in to the consoles and played ? If only RetroBear had the Amiga version of Rocket Ranger and not this duff attem which arrived on the NES…..


The good news is you get to punch Nazis. The bad news is that's the only good news in this game

Back when I first had my Amiga there was a series of games that I was heavily fond of and now are but a pleasant memory. The fact they all came from the same software house – Cinemaware – is no coincidence. Their games had a very strong reputation for being of incredibly high quality with stunning graphics and rather excellent game play too. One game I never got to play was It Came From The Desert which was a spoof on the monster invasion films of the 1950’s.

In fact Cinemaware games were often tinged with a historical or vintage slant ; Defender Of The Crown (medieval), The King of Chicago (1930’s gangsters), Lords Of The Rising Sun (Japanese Samurai) and Wings (World War 1). The fact the games were very successful was not surprising and the best way to see these games was to play them on the Amiga or Atari ST. They even branched out into sports, with basketball, boxing and American Football being the basis of some excellent sports titles (TV Sports Football was one of the best American Football games ever)


Shoot down the zeppelin armed with only your trusty ray gun and your rocket pack


So it was with a little surprise that another of the Cinemaware games I played on the Amiga, Rocket Ranger, was ported across onto the NES. Given the fact the Amiga version had a number of discs to swap when playing the game and one of those anti-piracy wheels bundled with it, just how on earth could they cram all that into an 8-bit cartridge ? OK this game had been ported onto the C64 with obvious limitations and that was a disk only version.


The basic story is in an alternative universe you have to stop the Nazis winning World War II. Armed only with your fists, your rocket pack and the odd ray gun you pick up, you must prevent the Nazis building a rocket ship bound for the moon which will enable them to create and implement their slave device which will win them the war. All fairly unbelievable stuff really. Ther is no doubt that the game takes it influence from the old black and white Saturday morning serials of the 1940’s, particularly King Of The Rocket Men.


Across sub games such as fist fights with armed guards, night raids over Africa taking out anti aircraft units, dogfights with the Luftwaffe and encounters with Nazi zeppelins, there is plenty to get your teeth into. Sadly the game is literally all these sub games held together by the strong story. There really isn’t much of a game underneath when you examine it. On the NES this comes across as a poorly coloured, limited action adventure game. At least with both the Amiga and C64 versions the audio and visuals were top notch and the game play actually held up better than on the NES.


Save the girl, the scientist and the world - not much to do then in this game....


It was a fair gamble to bring this style of game to the NES but sadly this falls well short of being a quality title. This I am sure is partly due to the limited game play of the other versions, but they had other things which detracted from that and held your concentration elsewhere. Quite simply the NES could never have hoped to have replicated Rocket Ranger, but that doesn’t excuse how poor a game this is. I can’t recommend it and would advise you to seek out the C64 or Amiga versions instead. That, or try and locate the original King Of The Rocket Men serial.


VERDICT : More Power Ranger than Rocket Ranger – this game simply does not suit the NES and its limitations are stripped bare for all to see.


NOTES : Wow, only one copy on Amazon and that will set you back £24.99\ (ironically the Amiga version is priced exactly the same). Over at eBay, well it’s the same story. Seems Rocket Ranger is hard to find and pricey if you do.


UP NEXT : Let’s go Mr Driver – it’s Chase HQ on the Amiga