Genre: Action / Arcade
Total time played: 6 Hours over 1 week
Short review: Another great Konami bullet hell shooter. One hit kills are frustrating but the game is so fast paced and fun I keep coming back for more.
Interesting links related to Jackal
- Speedrun (8 minutes 21 seconds)
- Jackal Theme on Piano
- Jackal Arcade Version
- Jackal Review by Retrospective Perspective
- Family Guy Jackal Pictionary
Somehow this game slipped under my radar when I was younger. I picked up Jackal in high school and popped it in the NES to make sure it worked and never played it again, until now.
This game has a very similar feel as Contra, and why wouldn’t it as it is a Konami bullet hell shooter. Jackal features a soundtrack that is every bit as good as Contra’s, or it would be if it wasn’t the same couple of tunes over and over. The game has an interesting mechanic when it comes to destroying your enemies, the B button shoots your machine gun towards the top of the screen no matter what direction your jeep is facing and the A button shoots a grenade in the direction your jeep is facing. It takes some getting used to but it feels very natural after you get comfortable with it. As you progress through each level you have the option to blow the side off of buildings and rescue the army men inside and deliver them to a rescue helicopter located later in the stage (the only reason to do this is for points to gain 1ups). If you rescue certain men (usually located in a building guarded by an enemy soldier) your grenade is upgraded to a missile, then a missile that explodes in 2 directions and finally a missile that explodes in 4 directions.
If you can upgrade your missile to shoot 4 ways the game is significantly easier. The down side is if you get killed, and you will, your 4 way missile is downgraded all the way to the grenade again.
Jackal would be a much easier game if your Jeep didn’t constantly stay 1/3 of the way from the top of the screen. If the screen scrolled with the Jeep halfway down you would actually have time to react. So, instead, I relied mostly on memory. If I died 15 times in the same spot I would finally learn how to get past that spot.
The first time I played this I got game over on stage one but after about 5 game overs I was able to get to the 5th of 6 levels without continuing and usually get through 3 levels without losing a life. But, the 6th and final level is no joke. No matter how many times I played it I lost so many lives and could never find a way to get through with my 4 way missile. I consistently could get to the final boss but by the time I reached him I was on my last life or 2.
In typical NES fashion as the boss gets closer to dying he turns red and then a deeper red. When the boss turns the deep red color it takes 5 more hits to kill him. On more than one occasion I was on my last life and hit the boss 4 times while he was deep red and then died. As I eventually learned it is easier to fight the final boss with the weak grenade as it is slower and gives the boss time to drive into it before it explodes while giving you time to run away and hide so you don’t get hit with the machine gun or flame thrower. Finally after a week of playing at least an hour per night I beat it!
The entire time I played this game I was replaying the Family Guy scene where Stewie is playing Pictionary in my head. It was annoying and made me laugh at the same time.
If you are a fan of Contra you will be a fan of Jackal. It didn’t get nearly the fan fare it deserved but it is still one of the best shooters on the system.