Jackal (NES)

Jackal was developed and published by Konami in 1988 for the North American market. It is a port of the 1986 arcade game of the same name (also known as Top Gunner) by Konami.

Game description

Jackal is a port of the arcade original released on September 1988. While it was known by the same name everywhere but in Japan, it was known as Top Gunner in North America.

It is directly based and expanded on the earlier port, known as Fainaru Komando: Akai Yosai (Final Command: Red Fortress that was released on May of that year for the Famicom Disk System. Level could be scrolled horizontally and were all made longer with the addition of what is the first stage. The NES version is a North American exclusive.

According to the instruction manual, infrared satellites around Earth have detected an American prisoner of war. Implied to have been missing since years, America wanted to avoid a possible relation and failure of the operation by sending their soldiers. Their solution is to instead give the mission to a group of elite commando codenamed JACKAL. Also known as the Jeep Squad, these four men are the most hardened soldiers that can sneak around the enemy base to bring all POW back to safety.

Arriving at the Cambodian border, their Jeep, which is codenamed “Trigger” land from a parachute and the squad progress until they end up in the fortress, known as the Zulu. They will fight a wide variety of military weapon and vehicle that will attempt to stop them.

  • Lt. Bob (Gunner)
  • Sgt. Quint (Main Driver)
  • Col. Deckar (Gunner)
  • Cpl. Grey (Secondary Driver)

They are seen in person in the game’s introduction, cut scene and the ending.

Jackal is a multidirectional scrolling shooter. The goal is to get to the end level and defeat each boss. Although the main mission is to save every POW, it is actually optional for game progression.

Trigger is a Jeep with two main weapons. Its basic one is the machine gun on its back that can shoot quick pellets. It can only shoot forward, however. Its second and main one is the grenade. Shooting a grenade will destroy most enemies in one hit. It can be upgraded up to four times by rescuing special POW that are known as commander. On its first upgrade, the grenade will become a rocket. Additional upgrade will add horizontal splash damage and vertical splash damage, which are as strong as the rocket itself. It is also possible to kill infantry by running over them with Trigger.

Every POW is captured inside house. After destroying a part of it, they will go in the Jeep. Toward the end of each level, a white helicopter send for the operation will get them back to safety and give points for each rescue. However, if Trigger is destroyed while having POW, some will end up being killed in the process, while others will have escaped and wander around the screen. After finishing a level, additional bonus points are given by rescued POW.

Jackal has six levels, known as checkpoint. Their name are:

  • Checkpoint Alpha (The Beach)
  • Checkpoint Baker (The Ruins)
  • Checkpoint Charlie (The Docks)
  • Checkpoint Delta (The Swamp)
  • Checkpoint Tango (The Battlefield)
  • Checkpoint Zulu (The Fortress)

Once the player defeats the final boss, an ending will be shown and the game will restart at the first level, keeping the score and life count. The game will continue to loop until the player loses every Jeep.

Jackal’s playthrough

The playthrough use the USA version of Jackal, the only one known on the NES. The goal is to have the highest scores possible before it overflows. The secondary objective is to rescues every POW in every stage (including the second loop) for maximum scores. In a near perfect game, it would take about 2 loops and the completion of the first level of the third loop to achieve the maximum score.

TAS tools were used in this playthrough.

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