Guerrilla War

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North American NES box art.

Guerrilla War, known in Japan as ゲバラ [Gebara], "Guevara" is a run and gun developed and published by SNK for the arcade in 1987, and was subsequently ported to the NES, and home computers, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, and ZX Spectrum. In the game, you play as either Ernesto "Che" Guevara or Fidel Castro in their attempt to invade Cuba to overthrow dictator, Fulgencio Batista. The appearance is similar to Commando, but with a unique control style.

Like most run and guns, the joystick moves the player's character, but unlike most others, the character continues to face the same direction no matter which way you press. To turn the player, you must rotate the joystick. This allows the player to strafe, a control system adds a unique twist (pun intended) to the game play. Time Soldiers, also published by SNK in 1987, also uses this scheme. Naturally, this system of movement wasn't possible on the NES port, but some home computer ports allowed it using keys on the keyboard for rotation. In MAME, you can emulate a rotating joystick using the shoulder buttons of a gamepad.

I first saw this game in the arcade room of the Lakeland Arena in the late 1980s. My parents never gave me quarters, so I didn't play the game, but I enjoyed watching other people play it. At one point, I watched my older brother play it, but he didn't get very far. Around 1990, I played the game for the first time on the NES with my cousin who was borrowing it from a friend. Since the game gives you unlimited continues, we beat the game the first time we played it.


I do not own the game, but I have beaten both the American and Japanese versions on the NES on easy mode.


  • Overall: 5/10
  • Best Version: NES


  • As run and guns go, this one is well-made. There are numerous guns, each is nice to use, you can ride in tanks, the environment changes in each level, and there is variety among the enemy soldiers and bosses. The NES port expands this greatly adding several levels each with new features.
  • The arcade strafing movement while using a rotating joystick to turn the player was pretty innovative, and they made good use of it in the design of the maps.
  • The arcade game and the NES port have really nice graphics for the time.
  • The NES port has great music.
  • The story, though limited and censored in the USA, is a good backdrop.
  • The NES port features unlimited continues from where you get a game over, which is quite nice for such a difficult game.
  • The NES manual shows you how to increase the difficulty for a more difficult game. Nice for added game play.
  • In the NES port, when you pick up a gun, you keep it until you die. A much better approach than the arcade where you get limited ammo.
  • The NES port has a pretty awesome end game sequence.


  • In the arcade port, you don't even get to kill the end boss!
  • Since the difficulty setting is not documented in the NES game, and most kids lose the manual (or don't read it), few players ever discover the setting.


  • Most ports of the game are unbelievably hard, so, if you want to beat it, you have to slowly sneak your way across every inch of the map in order to prevent being overwhelmed. This makes the game boring to play.
  • All of the home computer ports are awful.

Box Art