Supported Peripherals: Controller
ROM Size: 2 megabit
Mapper: MMC1 (128k PRG, 128k CHR)
Rescue: The Embassy Mission started life as a late eighties French PC game named Hostages, released to some acclaim in 1988 by development house Infogrames. Known for their proclivity for games that placed a heavier emphasis on thought than reflex (most famously the Alone in the Dark and Neverwinter Nights series), Hostages provided an unexpectedly healthy amount of action to complement the tense atmosphere and scenario, creating a game that was both novel and compelling for many different types of gamers. Taking place in a Parisian embassy, a GIGN unit (Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale, the French Spec Ops) is deployed to save the foreign ambassador and his staff from the radical terrorists that have taken control of the building. With all attempts at peaceful negotiation meeting with failure, the men must do everything they can to ensure the survival of the diplomat and the innocent hostages.
In being brought to the NES, Kemco excised all specifics regarding nationality and politics, though the core story remains the same. Rather than controlling a GIGN unit, players take control of a band of unidentified commandos tasked with saving an ambassador in a foreign embassy. In doing this, Rescue: The Embassy Mission‘s unique gameplay structure brings together three distinct game play modes, each tasking the player with carrying out objectives that serve to distinguish it from any of its contemporaries.
Split into three distinct sections, each game mode presents the team with a different aspect of recapturing the seized embassy. The first is moving three team members (Mike, Steve, and Jumbo) into sniping positions around the building. This segment features platforming action, requiring avoiding detection by advoiding roaming searchlights, accomplished by ducking into windows, doorways, and bushes when the beams draw near. If caught, the enemy will fire, killing the commando instantly. Once all three men (or those left alive) reach their positions around the perimeter, the second game mode begins.
Selecting any of the surviving team members, the player must look down the sight of a rifle, searching for enemy silhouettes windows. The more enemies that the units can shoot and kill from their sniping positions, the fewer there will be to encounter in the third and final mode – search and destroy. A separate team waiting on the roof takes over for the snipers, and must first must rappel down the face of the building. Upon reaching a
window, the commando must kick through it, triggering a shift to a first-person perspective, similar the one utilized in other Kemco adventure games (Shadowgate, Déjà Vu, and The Uninvited). While in the building, the commandos must move from room to room, clearing all enemy combatants from the embassy’s three floors while taking care not to hit the ambassador or any other innocents still inside.
Each of these modes are executed well, and are fun once the player becomes familiar with the controls. Though the controls are explained in the instruction manual, no instructions are given in the game itself, despite the fact that oftentimes they aren’t particularly intuitive. The graphics are solid, with good use of color and detail, and fairly large character sprites are never difficult to find on the screen. The sound is limited, but Rescue: The Embassy Mission does feature one of the few NES soundtracks that change contextually with the on-screen action: if the player is cautiously prowling around, the music will be light and eerie, whereas more tense moments call in the heavy bass and drums to ratchet up the pressure.
As an early precursor to modern squad-based combat games, the sheer amount of innovation and polish is stunning. Unfortunately, the sheer quality of the product underscores its one significant flaw – Rescue: The Embassy Mission is an incredibly short game. With some practice, the game can easily be beaten in under ten minutes. There are difficulty settings which change things like enemy numbers or spotlight placement and tracking speed, but these do little to hide the striking dearth of content on the cartridge.
Rescue: The Embassy Mission should be commended for trying something different and succeeding, but that makes its brevity all the more saddening. It’s excellent fun for short periods of time, but with only one mission, the game lacks any real long-term playability.
|Rescue: The Embassy Mission
|Rescue: The Embassy Mission