Combat School : Commodore 64 Review

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Genre: Action / Arcade

Publisher: Ocean Software

Combat School for the C64 was an incredible conversion of Konami’s arcade smash hit. This is the chance to see if you would get through the tough physical and mental discipline needed to become an elite soldier. It’s a unique premise, in an era which was generally all about being a soldier and shooting everything in sight. Actually training to become that unstoppable machine had never been included in games before.

The game itself will be very familiar to anyone who has played “Daley Thompson’s Decathlon. There are seven events which can potentially break your best joystick as you attempt to make it through selection.

First up is the Assault Course. The Player wiggles the joystick as fast as possible to make his marine run and pressing the fire button jumps allowing you to avoid oncoming obstacles. Following this is the Firing range. Thirty five pop-up targets need to be hit within a set time limit to qualify. You do this by aiming the machine gun sight down the screen and letting off accurate shots rather than peppering the entire area.

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Then we move onto the Iron Man race, in which the player waggles the joystick again but this time up and down in order to swim of canoe over treacherous terrain. Obstacles are dodged by moving left or right or by jumping over them. Following this is another firing range where we have to destroy fifty robot tanks as they appear at the top of the screen.

An Arm wrestling competition with the tough instructor comes next which is simply a test of waggling the joystick left and right. The faster, the better! There’s a third firing range and then the final event, a hand to hand showdown with the instructor. To win you must best him within a set time limit.

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The game doesn’t end with successful graduation. In a clever twist the player is then asked to take part in a secret mission in which they must use all the skills which they have learned in order to rescue a hostage from the American Embassy.

It’s an extremely varied game title with excellent levels of graphical detail. It can be hard to develop a successful microcomputer conversion of an arcade hit but this loses none of the original’s feel. I loved the excellent title tune by Martin Galway and it raised a smile as I recognised the compositions relevance to the game.

The challenges of the events are paced appropriately, they are difficult but never seem impossible and this helps give the game that ‘One more go‘ appeal which distinguished it as a memorable classic. Avoiding the obstacles requires a mixture of speedy reflexes and great hand-to-eye co-ordination. I found the firing ranges and beat em up stages to be most satisfying, letting me unleash my pent up aggression and demonstrate my beat em up skills.

This game also included a free Gryzor demo which upped its appeal and eased the pain of any smashed joysticks due to the furious waggling. It’s a great, fun title and deserves the respect which has accumulated for it over time.

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