As alluded to previously, this game is notable to both my beloved Boffin and myself as we both had the game on our trusty C64′s back in the day.  I however did not own the game, I think I borrowed it from a friend who never liked it much, eventually hoarding it never to return it :)

Rambo – First Blood Part II was an ocean game released in 1986, and was one of those early games responsible for my starting to stalk the games that Martin Galway composed the music for, often regardless of the quality of the game in question… the music was the thing of importance! :)

However, Rambo itself was an entertaining, if somewhat short game, or at least it was for me due to an inexplicable exploit I found in it – more about that later though.

As previously mentioned I very quickly became a fan of Martin Galway’s music, and so it was with much joy that I encountered the loading music in Rambo.  Successfully guessed that it was Martin’s work too after it loaded based on former listening to Green Beret , and to a lesser extent Kong Strikes Back ! Accompanying the loading music ofcourse was the loading screen – still a wonderment to me coming from the BBC Micro only earlier that year.


ARGH! His face be melted!


Trivia: The loading tune includes morse code spelling out the names of the game’s production team – and not just done as music, actual code that converts the text into the musical morse as the tune plays!






Upon loading the aural treats continue with a dark title theme that took direct inspiration from the Jerry Goldsmith actual film score – tho I didnt realise this until later, after bizarrely seeing the film after encountering the game!

Starting the game you are confronted with a Taito Hypersports style high score name entry screen for you to enter your name on, accompanied by a superb sounding electro-drum beat :)  After the first 14 second play session followed by death, one tends to just skip name entry however ;)

Bang! into the game, which is a multidirectional scroller with our little hero Rambo ambling about a sparsely vegetated jungle :)  For such a totey wee sprite he looks good tho, with his ickle-little high res overlay :)  Baddies fare less well with their little blocky- selves, and their bullets that move.. well.. in bullet-time :D  But this is a good thing, as this game is HARD.  You die in seconds, and thats it, game over!  This is due to a single energy bar thing that decreases if you come into contact with enemies or their bullets.


Energy and alternative weapons (toggled by spacebar) are depicted quite neatly by a sprite overlay going over the main screen near the bottom.  This allows the entire screen to be given over to the view, which is nice.


You are expected to proceed north, finding extra weapons if you’re lucky, getting thwarted and downright enraged by sticky foliage that you have to feel your way around, whist still dodging the ADHD suffering baddies and their slo-mo bullets.

Supposedly you need to find the enemy camp to the north, find a way in (I found going all the way to the back of it and in from the there easiest) where you must dodge Davros-a-like baddies firing from the top of watchtowers – tho you can blast them with your explosive tipped arrows (I originally thought they were bazookas, until I saw the film)

Nipping a bit into the camp you find a wee dude tied to some poles, you release him by walking over him.

At this point my memory got fuzzy, and I assumed I needed to continue into the camp to FREE THE rest of the CAPTIVES! I spent a good while in the emulator cursing the game when I found the little prison shed I remembered they were kept in, trying to remember how to get them out… then I remembered that in fact I had to head way north and GET TO THE CHOPPA!

At this point I’ll mention the in-game music which is ofcourse also fantastic, albeit sounding like a slightly confused version of Ennio Morricone’s “The Good, the bad, and the ugly” – but is in fact a pseudo-cover of the Jerry Goldsmith score from the film.  Its a fantastic piece of music with some really memorable hooks, but you need to be an awesome player to hear it in its entirety (but not too awesome, as at the breakpoints in the game it interrupts the tune and restarts it) or cheat, or play the SID in sidplay :)

Anyho0!  We GET TO THE CHOPPA! and are treated to another Goldsmith inspired Galway-ditty which sounds superbly sinister, along with a message:









So… south! south Miss Teschmacher! – er I mean Rambo!  So off we fly in our beautiful balloo… choppa… to a convenient little “H” helopad.. tho in theory you could use this opportunity to fly aboot unmolested and listen to all of the tune :)




But no, land we must, and there we are out and about in the camp vulnerable again.. but THIS time we can go down to the little hostage shed, and free their ghostly little ickle spriteages.

This is accompanied by one of the more memorable jingles covering Goldsmith’s score.




So off our wee hostage chums trot offscreen – presumably to the helo – and we proceed to follow them.  Upon entering the chopper another breakpoint screen informs us that the baddies have sent a gunship to chase us down.

This is accompanied by a RUSSIANS ARE BAD MUHAHAHAHAHA tunelet :)

Sooo…  at this point we are expect to fly North to where safety awaits at the end of the map, and/or to take down the gunship when it finds you (which it does after about 4 seconds!)

The enemy gunship hounds you like an angry wasp however, buzzing around you and ending your little quest faster than.. something really quick.




I’ve never been able to destroy the enemy gunship, but nor have I been able to legitimately avoid it either…  but I’ve completed the game ;)

Dont ask me how I could possibly have discovered this, as I have no memory of how I found this out at all but…

If you have two joysticks plugged in – one in port one, the other in port two (the one you play the game with) – when you get to this point in the game if you push one forward, and the other back and maybe a little diagonally you cause the game to have a wee bit of a seizure… and propel your helo northwards at Airwolf turbo like speeds… often whilst facing backwards!

I’ve tried this in an emulator just recently when I was writing this blogpost… and it works in the emulator too :D  - tho its a bit more difficult to do using the keyboard emulation! :D

Interestingly this seems to be a hardware bug in the C64 somehow, or maybe the programmers use the memory locations the other joystick port represents for something since its assumed to not be in use.  I remember Green Beret had a similar – tho less useful – result by pushing right on one, left on the other: Our green beret does the moonwalk!



when I shared this post with one of my friends whom I grew up with who was also a C64 nut in the day, we shared the following conversation:

  [14:36:34]  John says:
heh i believe it was i who discovered the joystick bug in a fit of rage
 [14:36:43]  Kate says:
lol no way :D 
 [14:38:25]  John says:
rage from playing ended up in joystick being thrown and as it was a cheetah 128or 
somecrap they weight of the base pushing against the stick created the downward
direction. then seeing it intermittantly turbo when pushing up on the live stick
ended up in further testing 

So! Credit goes to @Johnfeshie for the hacktastic find of olde! :)

So with the aide of a hack, we fly north, reaching the base, and saving the day, only to be told that more POW’s need our help and must go back and do it all over again :)

RAMBO was an entertaining game, though very limited in long-term appeal due to its simple structure, and frustratingly easy rapid deaths.  It was another one of those games however that you were happy to own on the merits of its music.  I remember an issue of Zzap!64 posted a little program listing you could run which allowed you to play all the music and soundeffects outside of the game.


By the way, whilst all right-thinking individuals quite rightly would only listen to the music in-game, there was an option for Sound Effects… which had the best baddy-death sound EVAR. “Blewewewewerg”


One last little Kate-specific quirk for you – before I got myself a C64 disk-drive, i endured tape-loading just like everyone else… and Rambo turned out to be quite the swine to successfully load.  It seemed fine for a while.. then would refuse to load…. unless….

..and I’m not making this up…

..and dont ask me how I discovered this either…

it wouldnt load unless I – rather than doing the normal C64 SHIFT+RUNSTOP combo to shortcut the load command – typed in:


*AND* I turned the datesette upside down for loading.










If I did both those things… it would load.  If I didnt… it wouldnt.

Yes, I was a troubled youth…. but thats 100% totally the TRUTH!

Trivia: The loading music from Rambo was selected to be on the earliest example of C64 remix albums – DATAHITS – where it was rendered with reverb/chorus, drums, and some more instruments :)