It was 1985. Ronald Reagan was in the White House for a second term and Mikhail Gorbachev took the helm of an ailing Soviet Union after being elected as General Secretary for the Communist Party. The Cold War was about to take a different turn over the next few years, but in the meantime, entertainment media would continue to fight a hot version of it in movies and…of course…games like Konami’s Rush ‘n Attack.
Rush ‘n Attack is a side scrolling, 2D action game that was also known as Green Beret in Japan and Europe. The latter name was easy to understand after you took a look at the cabinet for the stand-up featuring a beret wearing badass aiming an RPG. In the game, you went in with a survival knife and defended yourself by stabbing legions of enemy soldiers that tried to physically rush you from both sides of the screen as you kept moving ahead.
Limited use weapons dropped by special, black uniformed baddies such as flame throwers and RPGs also gave the player an edge, wiping out rows of foes in a single shot. But the enemy also brought in jumping, high kicking soldiers, parachuting gunners, and even boss battles involving gyrocopters and dogs. Backdrops crackled with grim military installations such as warehouses, anti-aircraft guns, subs, and bridges to nowhere.
Musically, the arcade game plays off of a familiar military reverie that continually looped and if you scored high enough to enter your initials, a play on the theme from the film, The Great Escape, could be heard.
In America, the game’s name was obviously a play on “Russian”. It’s not explicitly said that who you were stabbing by the truckload, but the red star motif popping up thoughout the game, the play on the title, and the Cold War dropped enough hints to make it appear who they “could” be.
Rush ‘n Attack was a fun, if odd, action game. One would probably expect a highly trained operative on the level of this guy to carry more than a knife into battle. Or that the enemy wouldn’t try to bum rush him all the time if they had all of those tanks and other weapons in the backdrop to pummel him with. At the same time, that would have made a very short, and frustrating, game. With no life meter, getting hit once was all it took to take a life as your beret wearing supersoldier crumpled to the ground as a bloody mess.
The game took place over four major stages, the last one being the prisoner camp where the POWs were kept. A sequel would even come out a few years later in ’89 called M.I.A. Missing in Action which kept the same basic gameplay while sporting sharper visuals.
Rush ‘n Attack would also be ported to a huge number of platforms with a number of tweaks. For example, the NES version had an expanded number of levels. Not only that, but the story had a slightly larger role thanks to a retooled inro, a dramatic ending cut, and arguably better music. Instead of rescuing POWs, you were tasked instead to destroy the enemy’s secret weapon which was some kind of huge missile. It would be a theme that the most recent Rush ‘n Attack remake which was released for the Xbox 360’s XBLA would carry on. Unfortunately, that version also had something of a mixed reception.
The arcade flyer below (thanks to the Arcade Flyer Archive) from ’85 isn’t something that you would ever see today with Call of Duty or Medal of Honor promos. Here, someone decided to pitch the game as a family-friendly field trip as they watch their youngest take out bad guys faster than Rambo would in Rambo II in the same year. The sandbags add to the strangeness along with the camo backdrop, but at least it had screenshots to help sell it to arcade operators, though I’ve never seen anyone this excited over a game in any of the arcades I’ve been at. It was still a solid arcade actioner, though it didn’t have one of Konami’s better arcade flyers.