Rescue: The Embassy Missions

This little-known game is a true gem among thousands of NES titles, and is better than a number of such games combined. It’s a bit tough to find, but definitely worth the effort. Rescue offers a short, but entertaining experience that still shines even against more modern competition.

Before there was Rainbow Six, gamers could plan missions and drop tangos with Rescue. The basic idea is that terrorists have captured a three-story embassy building, and you control a squad of six expert counter-terrorist operatives as they infiltrate the building, and free the hostages inside. This mission plays out in stages as you must first position your snipers, take out what terrorists you can through the windows, then rappel down the building, enter through a window, and sweep the building clean of all enemies. Sound like it rocks? Oh yes, it does indeed.

The first “stage” tasks you with moving your snipers silently into position around the building. This is not as easy as it sounds. You must play hide-and-seek with multiple searchlights sweeping the surrounding buildings. If you get spotted, the terrorists will start shooting, and you’ll have to do some wild dodging to have even the tiniest chance of surviving. The section definitely sets the tone for the rest of the game, and it’s great fun to move between doorways and dive behind low walls to avoid being spotted. The music will even change from a quiet spy beat when you’re hiding, to an intense action version when you’re running out in the open. It does this on the fly, without ever breaking up the tune. Extremely cool.

Depending on how many of your snipers survive, you may or may not have shots at all three sides of the building. This stage is certainly enjoyable, as you sweep your crosshairs across the windows in the hope of spotting a silhouette of a terrorist inside. If you successfully tag one, you’ll blow out the glass and lower the number of terrorists your commandos will have to face inside. Obviously you can’t drop everyone from outside, but it is the safest way to weed out their numbers. This is also a good time to mention the mission timer – you’re given a limited amount of time (the lowest being ten minutes) to complete the entire mission. This keeps things running at a tense pace, as you can’t hide from the searchlights forever, and though it’s smart to thin the numbers of enemies with your snipers, you must also give your commandos enough time to search the building. Planning and management actually are essential in this game.

The next stage has you select one of your commandos on the roof, and pick out a window for them to enter the building. There are three rows of windows on three stories, and all are accessible, so you can start from wherever you want. When you select your man and entry point, you must carefully control them as they rappel down the side of the building and into position. If you slide down the rope too fast, you’ll fall to the ground below, and if the window you’ve selected has a terrorist inside, you’ve put yourself in unnecessary danger. Once you’re over a window, a simple press of the A or B buttons has you push off and swing through, shattering glass and all.

From there, you seamlessly enter the last stage where you must guide your lone commando through the building, hunting terrorists and rescuing hostages. This plays in a Doom-like corridor crawl, as you move through rooms and shoot at the enemy before the enemy can react. Their intelligence is pretty sharp, and they are never predictable, freely moving between floors and rooms. Things can get tense with time running out, and your final terrorist hiding away somewhere in the building. Additional tension comes from the fact that one shot kills, so you must be fast on your trigger and keenly aware. If you get shot here, you will return to the roof where your two remaining commandos can take a crack at it. The game ends when all three die, time runs out, or you successfully clear the building. At the end of your mission you get a status screen showing hostages saved and team members lost, as well as an evaluation in the form of a media headline, summing up how well or poorly you did.

Everything about this game is quite good. Controls for the various stages are dead on, and its easy to do everything you’re required to, from somersaulting away from searchlights to tracking down terrorists. Sound is solid, with effects that aren’t overused, and certainly useful. They do a good job of letting you know you’re in danger, and when the bullets have started to fly. As I said before, the music just simply rocks and it’s rare to see an NES game that can make a fantastic action track out of electronic squeals and beeps.

The graphics are also very nice, and you’ll never once question what you’re supposed to be looking at, or what is going on around you. If I had one complaint about the game it is that this one mission is the whole game. The only difference is in various levels of difficulty, where bullets are tossed in greater numbers, or the terrorists do not appear on your map when you’re clearing the building. It’s balanced well, with the most difficult setting still being a challenge even after playing many times, especially since the terrorists are placed randomly every time. Regardless, the replay value does suffer just a bit when you’ll just be doing the same things over and over again.

It’s still an awesome game, definitely worth playing once and you’ll likely keep it and play a few more anyway. There is really no excuse not to give this game a try. Even if you only play through one time, you won’t be disappointed by the experience.


The Good

Awesome counter-terrorist action.

The Bad

Only one mission played over and over.

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