MDM Game 22 Rambo III

A Middle Eastern army couldn’t hold me back…

Twitch gameplay broadcast archived at:

For those of you who didn’t grow up in the 80s, Rambo is a quintessential part of the (un)holy trifecta of action film series, alongside Terminator and Predator. Sylvester Stallone stars as the titular John Rambo, and is basically a one-man army against whatever political power is deemed appropriate for each installment of the franchise. In the case of Rambo III, he’s actually in retirement, but his good friend Sam Trautman has been captured in Afghanistan and the US Armed Forces won’t launch a rescue mission for fear of sparking a full-scale war, so of course he decides to go and save him on his own, because that’s what Rambo does.

In terms of movie tie-in video games, Rambo III sticks pretty closely to the plot, but it’s somehow even more dumbed down than the film itself, and only really exists to join levels together. In actuality, they could be in any order and would still play in much the same way; there’s no real change between any of them other than the setting and arrangement of the map. The majority of the game is spent in a top-down view, and with an arsenal comprising a machine gun, a knife, a crossbow and some seriously short-fused timebombs, it’s no surprise which one is the most useful. No, it’s not the knife.

And so you embark across a series of missions that amount to little more than shoot this, kill that, destroy those and save them. It becomes a strange concoction of both tedium and excitement; gunning down endless waves of palette-swapped enemies in uninteresting tilesets is somehow still a lot of fun. And if you stop for a moment and take your finger off the trigger, there’s a half decent soundtrack underpinning all the fighting as well.

The previously mentioned crossbow does get a starring role between some of the levels; the view switches to a sort of over-the-shoulder shooting gallery, and Rambo has to take down end-of-level bosses in what can only be described as unfathomable feats of skill. It starts out by being relatively feasible with the destruction of a lone helicopter, but the climax involving a more powerful tandem of chopper and tank is just crazy. I think even the films were slightly less incredulous than that.

Shirtless and armed with a crossbow, yet able to destroy that helicopter…

Rambo III turns out to be surprisingly short, with only six stages to tackle, and I was surprised that it was over when the epilogue started to scroll, because there’s no real feeling of success, it just sort of… ends. The modern convenience of savestates allowed me to finish the game in well under an hour. I can imagine it would be fun as a speedrun at some point, but now is definitely not the time for that. Imagine speedrunning whilst also working through #MegaDriveMarathon…

MDM Rating: The Film Is Longer