• The average age was n-n-n-n-n-nineteen — but you already knew that
Deep trouble, man, like, wow it’s Viet Nam time — 1965 to be precise — and all-American kid that you are, you’ve just received a letter calculated to forever shatter the comfortable world you’ve always known — you’ve been drafted.
The one really annoying thing about 19 Part One — Boot Camp is the pedestrian multiload (+3 owners are extremely lucky). However, once the game has loaded, you realise that Cascade have come up with the goods and it really is worth all the waiting.
All over God’s own country college kids, issued with dog tags and uniforms, are embarking on a period of combat training to get them ready for life in the battlezone. 19 Part One — Boot Camp takes the player through the rigours of basic fitness and combat training and is the prequel to the no-surprise-soon-to-be-released Part Two which will put the player right into the combat zone in Nam. The game was inspired by Paul Hardcastle’s No 1 single of the same name: the average age of the American soldiers in Viet Nam was n-n-n-n-nineteen — but you already knew that.
It’s a long time before draft dodging became the national American teenage sport, so you find yourself with up to three other draftees, clutching your individual draft numbers, getting ready to take part. Each one guides his rookie private through four multiloaded stages of training. The first task awaiting fresh recruits is a daunting assault course. There are walls to climb, ditches to cross, tubes to crawl through and the whole procedure must be completed within a set time limit.
The horizontally scrolling assault course contains plenty of different obstacles for the unfit recruit to clamber and jump over — mastering jumping is difficult at first as expert timing is necessary to set the power bar. To clear a hazard, you need to keep fire continually pressed to ensure that the power bar remains at the correct level. If power is too high or low, you just run slap-bang straight into the obstructing fence or set of monkey bars with no alternative but to go back, red-faced and stripey-bruised, and reattempt it, wasting valuable time.
At the end of all this, you may feel like collapsing in a shivering, shaking heap with a can of Colt 45 (OK, Schlitz if you prefer) ... No chance — forget your aching back and blistered feet and get down to the shooting range. Here, a series of cut-out figures pops up from behind a set of walls and bushes. In addition to pictures of the enemy, there are figures representing women and children. Shoot a civilian, and a massive 1000 points is knocked off your score.
Though the shooting event simply involves moving the gun target around the area and firing at the cut-outs, the section’s playability is improved by the inclusion of the innocent women and children (although I thought American soldiers in Viet Nam were instructed to shoot anything that moved). Unless you achieve the target number of points within the given time limit, you’re out of the course. (Back to civvies? Nah, unlikely, they’ll probably bung you in the potato-peeling squad to learn how to make large French fries to go.)
The other two events contain plenty of great gameplay — the jeep driving is particularly exhilarating. There you are at the jeep’s wheel hurtling down an obstacle-strewn road, which contains many hills and dips. Army paraphernalia, such as boots and helmets, litters the road and can be collected for a bonus. Hitting other obstacles reduces the jeep’s top speed, reducing its chances of finishing within the time limit.
Having made mincemeat of a perfectly serviceable army vehicle you’re let loose in unarmed combat. Various moves are accessed in traditional beat-em-’up style. Practise them deftly enough and you may even get to beat the drill-instructor in a moment of sweet revenge. Having participated in all the events, the solider is given a rating for each — these can be saved to tape for use in the sequel when it’s released.
Although I consider none of the four sub-games is superb in its own right, together they make up a great package — I can’t wait for the s-s-s-s-sequel.
PHIL ... 90%
N-n-n-no doubt about it, this is a brilliant game. Each training event could be released separately as an individual game and it would still be worth the money! All the graphics are excellent, especially the 19 logo and the title screen by Conran (wasn’t he in Skippy’s On The Screen?). The 128K tune is of course the Paul Hardcastle hit and with digitised speech on top of that, the soundtrack is an audio masterpiece. Some events are quite difficult to begin with — especially the assault course which is the most frustrating section — though the jeep training in particular is just good fun. Unfortunately, 48K users all the excellent audio but everything else is the same. As with almost any game today, 19 Part One is a multiload, but this doesn’t spoil its addictiveness at ll. Like the others, I can’t wait for the sequel, Combat Zone, even though in 1965 I’m sure the real all-American kid had quite other feelings!
NICK ... 92%
‘Get ready soldier,’ growls the voice of the drill sergeant as the brave private subjects himself to the rigours of basic training in this Combat School-esque game. A great deal of hand and eye coordination is needed to survive the training necessary to turn you into a lean, mean fighting machine and though at first the sergeant’s stopwatch will beat you, a little practice soon does wonders. All the events are well presented (my favourite’s the shooting range) and provide a great challenge. Cascade have even gone out of their way to construct a link between the two parts of the game. Knowing that your performance at Boot Camp can affect your performance in Combat Zone gives a strong incentive to do well. Ten’hut! — by the left — ker-weeek march... left, left, left-right-left.
MARK ... 90%
Joysticks: Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: well-designed sprites plus plenty of graphical variety in the four events
Sound: great Rob Hubbard soundtrack on 128K plus a snippet of digitised speech
Options: up to four players, and save scores for the sequel
General rating: a superb package of four well-presented playable events which gives great value for money