Welcome to Die
GENRE: Shooter/Light Phaser
RELEASE DATE: 12/1988 – (US), 1988 – (EU)
Sega finally took initiative and turned the Rambo video game franchise from an Ikari Warriors ripoff into a Light Phaser bloodletting free-for-all. Rambo III is, without a doubt, the most aggressive light gun game you will ever play. There are so many enemies on screen at one time, all firing at you with pitch-perfect accuracy. To shoot them all without taking any damage is impossible. It doesn’t matter how good of a shot you are, how accurate your Light Phaser is. Rambo III is war.
Three knives, Rambo III. There’s a pattern here.
You play as John Rambo, off to find your one and only friend, Colonel Trautman. Trautman’s been kidnapped by Russians, left by America to die in the country’s cold, Communist grip. Naturally, it’s Rambo who must rescue him and destroy all of Russia in the process. But the Motherland isn’t going down without sending out every single one of their million-strong military. Rambo will have to make his way into the troop barracks, the Soviet village (complete with screaming civilians), Russian mountains, the prison camp where Trautman is held, and a cave, all filled to the brim with soldiers thirsting for your first blood.
“Don’t worry, Rambro, I got this.”*
Each level of Rambo III is an automatically-scrolling whirlwind of bullet-filled justice. You’re armed with a limited amount of AK-47 bullets, one grenade, and one life-refilling drink, that’s it. The grenade, the drink, and your bullets get replenished upon the completion of each round, but this is of course presuming you make it to the end alive. You have one life and gain three continues after you make it to the second level; die in the first level and you get no continues.
The trick to making it through Rambo III alive is memorizing the location of each enemy. If you know where the enemies are located before they emerge from their hiding place – behind a lookout tower, beyond the horizon, right in front of your face – then you can shoot them before they get too many shots off. The only problem with this tactic is the enemy’s sheer numbers. Later stages throw half a dozen soldiers at you at one time (on top of the occasional tank/helicopter). Sure, you can launch a grenade their way once and maybe twice if you pick up an ammo box, but for the rest of the level, you’ll have to decide which of the six enemies that just appeared in front of you needs to die first. They’re all crack shots too, so chances are, some of your life will be lost in the process.
Right after this screenshot was taken, two additional soldiers popped out from behind the wall next to the trees. There were no survivors.
If Rambo III had dual Light Phaser compatibility – either for single player both-hands-blazing or for two Rambo acolytes to team up – then the game might not feel as overwhelming as it does. You will make progress if you keep continuing, particularly if you memorize the enemy locations, so Rambo III isn’t impossible. But aside from the screen that tallies up your points at the end of each level, there’s never any down time, never any rest from the eternal onslaught. John Rambo might thrive in a bullet-ridden Soviet wasteland, but the rest of us need some “me” time every now and again.
*screenshot generously provided by GameFAQs