Guerrilla War

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North American arcade cabinet.

Guerrilla War is a run and gun developed and published by SNK for the arcade in 1987, and subsequently ported to the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, and ZX Spectrum. A heavily altered version was also made for the NES. In the game, you play as either Ernesto "Che" Guevara or Fidel Castro in their attempt to invade Cuba to overthrow dictator, Fulgencio Batista. The appearance is similar to Commando, but with a unique control style.

Like most run and guns, the joystick moves the player's character, but unlike most others, the character continues to face the same direction no matter which way you press. To turn the player, you must rotate the joystick, otherwise the player will strafe across the screen. This control system adds a unique twist (pun intended) to the game play. Time Soldiers, also published by SNK in 1987, uses this scheme as well. When playing the game in MAME, I emulate a rotating joystick by using the shoulder buttons on my gamepad, but someone also created a hack that uses the more traditional movement.


I first saw this game in the arcade room of the Lakeland Arena in the late 1980s. My parents never gave me quarters, so I didn't play the game, but I enjoyed watching other people play it. Once, I watched my older brother play it, but he didn't get very far. Around 1990, I first played the NES port and loved it. I have since played the arcade game through MAME, but I have never made any attempt to get good at it.

I do not own this game, nor have I beaten it.


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Best Version: Arcade

— This section contains spoilers! —


  • As run and guns go, this one is fairly well-made. There are numerous guns, each is nice to use, you can ride in tanks, the environment changes in each level, harder enemies appear as you progress, and there is variety among the bosses.
  • The arcade strafing movement while using a rotating joystick to turn the player was pretty innovative, and they made good use of it in the design of the maps.
  • The arcade game has really nice graphics for the time.
  • The game has a good story.
  • Having the enemy use refugees as human shields makes the game more complex.


  • When you defeat the end boss's turrets, he just runs away. Lame!


  • The game is unbelievably hard. If you want to beat it, you have to slowly sneak your way across every inch of the map in order to prevent from being overwhelmed by enemies. This makes the game boring to watch and very un-thematic.
  • All of the home computer ports are awful.


Box Art




Longplay, arcade.
Longplay, Commodore 64.
Longplay, ZX Spectrum.


Language Native Transliteration Translation
English Guerrilla War
Japanese ゲバラ Gebara Guevara


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