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Guerrilla War

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Guerrilla War (ゲバラGuevara?) is an overhead run and gun game produced by SNK. Originally released for arcades in 1987 as a coin-operated arcade game, Guerrilla War followed the adventures of two unnamed rebel commandos as they raid an unnamed Caribbean Island in order to free it from the rule of an unnamed tyrannical dictator. Along the way the players vanquish hordes of unnamed enemy soldiers while attempting to rescue hostages (with large score deductions for any hostages killed in the crossfire).

The game holds the distinction of being the only commercially released game based on the exploits of a Marxist revolutionary (with the possible exception of Red Faction and Red Faction 2).


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The arcade version, released by SNK in 1987, followed the highly successful format for overhead arcade shooters that SNK had pioneered with its landmark Ikari Warriors (1986). Using eight-way rotating joysticks, the game allowed players to move their character in one direction while rotating the joystick in order to shoot in another. The game was moderately successful, and spawned ports onto home video game systems. In 1988, SNK released home editions on the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum home computers and the NES/Famicom 8-bit console. Because of the limits of the home platforms, the home versions did not have the rotating joysticks. However, and unlike Ikari Warriors, the NES/Famicom versions proved to be very well adapted to the system and more popular than the arcade version. The NES version's two-player simultaneous play, unlimited continues, and frantic action gave it an edge over its arcade predecessor.

The Che Guevara Connection

The game is based on the exploits of revolutionary Che Guevara, and the defeat of the Batista regime in Cuba in the late 1950s. The original Japanese title of Guerrilla War was Guevara. In addition, player 2's character was Fidel Castro. Castro as he appears in this game is ranked fifth in Electronic Gaming Monthly’s list of the top ten video game politicians.[1] Nevertheless, fearing extreme anti-Communist sentiments in the West, SNK did a localisation of the game's dialogue and instruction manual for its North American and European releases. The version of Guevara released for the Japanese Famicom is a sought-after item for many video game collectors.


  1. Scott Sharkey, “EGM’s Top Ten Videogame Politicians: Election time puts us in a voting mood,” Electronic Gaming Monthly 234 (November 2008): 97.

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