Rambo (NES)

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US box art.

Rambo is a platformer action adventure game developed and published by Pack-In-Video in Japan on 1987-12-04 for the Famicom, and published by Acclaim Entertainment in the USA in 1988 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The game is loosely based on the film, Rambo: First Blood, Part II. John Rambo is allowed to leave prison if he agrees to go on a military reconnaissance mission in the jungle. There, he meets his contact Co who directs him in his mission. The game mechanics are heavily influenced by Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and it similarly has elements of a Metroidvania. Like the film, Rambo uses a variety of weapons including a combat knife, a bow with exploding arrows, and military rifles to defeat enemy combatants.


I don't remember how this game came into my possession, but I had it in the early 1990s. I remember immediately noticing the similarities with Zelda II, but finding it not nearly as enjoyable. I played it for quite awhile until I memorized the first couple sections. I remember getting close to the halfway point of the game, but that's about it. I must have found the game too difficult or boring, because I don't remember playing it any further at the time. After seeing reviews of it online, I decided to try and give the game another try, this time, with a set of maps to help prevent me from getting lost. I beat the game on 2021-02-18.

I own this game and have beaten it.


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4 4 3 5 4

Best Version: NES

— This section contains spoilers! —


  • The soundtrack, composed by Toru Hasebe, is small, but still has some pretty memorable music.
  • I like that you're given a variety of weapons to use, some directly from the film.
  • The stat-boosting element is a good mechanic that allows weaker players to chance to grind to make the game a little easier.
  • The brief moment where you play as Co is a nice change up.
  • Rambo's portrait actually resembles Stallone, albeit, as a goofy caricature.


  • Collision detection is pretty bad. Things hit Rambo even when they don't directly touch him. At least collisions are equally as liberal with your projectiles.
  • The weapons could have been implemented better. The knife is pretty slow and it doesn't make sense that it does more damage than the bow and arrow. It keeps combat balanced, but it's still pretty stupid. The grenades are also especially difficult to aim.
  • The sections where you have to cross precipitous bridges while avoiding any hits that will set you back a couple screens are pretty annoying.
  • It's never made obvious which doors can be entered and which are just for show.
  • I like that the game tries for dialogue choices, but how you respond never matters. This only serves as a reminder that the game's story is totally on rails.
  • There is a delay of about a second, after you taking lethal damage, before you die. This gives you the impression that you survived the hit, only to watch Rambo die a second later. My guess is that this was added to let the player quickly swig some medicine, but, unless you're staring at your life meter, you won't notice this, so I find it to be more annoying than helpful.
  • The character portraits are ridiculous, as are the giant headed bosses, and throwing a kanji to turn a person into a frog. These antics may have worked with Japanese audiences, but they should have been changed for the American release.
  • Rambo's character art is totally wrong and doesn't match his portrait.
  • Unlike in the film, it's possible for Co to survive, which is a pleasant twist, however, the way you do it (by simply not talking to her during a key scene) is really stupid.
  • The US ending is pathetic. If the developers couldn't have fit the credits into the ROM because of all the added dialogue, they should have implemented a basic compression system.


  • The maps are really hard to navigate. You absolutely have to create your own map to keep from getting lost, and the bizarre wrap-around effect that changes from time to time means the game world doesn't exist in Euclidean space.
  • There isn't really much that's too awful about this game, and it's certainly better than most licensed games, but there are a lot of poor design decisions that add up to an inferior title. This was Pack-In-Video's first game on the NES, and it shows.


Box Art




Review - NES Works.


Role Staff
Producer Oku-chan [オクちゃん]
Directer I-too Makimaki Yama-chan [いーとぉまきまき やまちゃん]
Scenario Misa Narita (みさ なりた)
Designer Tokima Fuku-chan [フクちゃん ときま], Yoshi Toyokawa [よし とよかわ]
Programmer AAZ, Tooru Miyazawa (as Phillip Miyasawa [フィリッフ みやさわ]), NTT Shirota [NTT しろた]
Music Toru Hasebe (as Tohru Hasehe [とおる はせへ]), Minki Motoyama [みんき もとやま]
Sound Effects Hiroshi Shimasaki (as Rushirushi Shimasaki [るしるし しまさき])
Adviser Toshio Ozaki (as OZ)
Promoter Naniwano Sasaki [なにわの ささき], Tsuu [つう]


Language Native Transliteration Translation
English Rambo
Japanese ランボー Ranbo Rambo


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