|Source // Arcade Museum|
A game called Green Beret could mean a few things, but it's the mid 1980s so it really means only one thing - you versus the rest of the world in nonstop Rambo-esque combat. I don't have a problem with that.
Known as Rush'n Attack to western audiences, it is undeniably Cold War themed, although a single US Green Beret killing hordes of Russian soldiers in an attempt to free four prisoners of war isn't exactly a cold war stalemate...
You'll be using your trusty knife for the most part, with weapon pick ups in the form of flamethrowers, rockets and grenades helping to mix things up through four stages of all out combat.
While I couldn't play the much better looking original arcade version, I could fire up the NES port, and while it's not as hectic or nice to look at, it's still far from sparse and bland. There's so little that you need to think about in Green Beret that it almost becomes some kind of relaxation aid.
You move forward and if there's an enemy in front of you, you attack him with your knife. If there's an enemy behind you, you stop, turn around, then attack him with your knife. Or you can avoid them, but points are points, aren't they?
You can jump and duck, each allowing for you to attack in those positions too, so it's down to how you're able to deal with the situation in front of you as to whether or not you'll be making any progress - the controls just aren't an issue.
With easy controls, you're left to keep an eye out for weapons to use instead of your knife, and will need to manage their limited ammunition to get the most bang for your buck. Watching the arcade version, a well placed grenade into a group of enemies works much as you'd expect it to work. On the NES, the first weapon I found was a rocket launcher, which seems a bit of a waste when fired towards an enemy or two...
Still, you get to see enemy after enemy rush in to attack you, as you dart through them all towards your end goal, all by your heroic self.
However, that's all you do. It's mixed up by enemy types and end stage boss-like encounters, but at the end of the day everyone - yourself included - can only take one hit before dying, and the screen will always need to be moving so that you progress to the right. How much of that can you take before it get's a bit samey?
Watching the arcade version, with the amount of enemies on screen at once as well as how good it looks, this same-old same-old feeling might not be as strong as it seemed on the NES, with its fewer enemies and simpler graphics. Making progress was easy, even if I had to learn things the hard way (oh, they're anti-personnel mines? Gotcha...), but at the same time it felt like it was running through some padding, waiting for the next set piece, which is rather strange when, no, this 'padding' is actually the point of the game.
There's not much to complain about Green Beret in the same way that there's not much to praise. Looks good, plays good, what does it give to video game history? Couldn't tell you.
There are differences between versions, and it's been ported to a few of them, so playing it somewhere shouldn't be a problem. The NES port swaps the goal of rescuing POWs into destroying a secret weapon, and tinkers with stages and weapon pick ups as well, but Green Beret still plays like Green Beret - Move, stab, move, stab, move, stab.
I hope it's place on the 1001 list isn't just to pad the list out. An early example of a run and gunner, sure. Worth a quick play, sure. I'm struggling to think of anything more though.
A sequel, Rush'n Attack: Ex-Patriot, was released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2011. No, I didn't hear about it at the time either.
Green Beret, developed by Konami, first released in 1985.
Version played: NES, 1987, via emulation.
Version watched: Arcade, 1985 (sneekyweezel)