Guerrilla War (NES)

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North American NES box art.

Guerrilla War is a run and gun developed and published by SNK for the NES on 1988-12-26. It is based on the arcade original, but is different enough to warrant a separate page.

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 and controls are similar to Commando, but significantly improved upon.


I first saw the original arcade in the late 1980s, but never played it at the time. Around 1990, I played this port 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, but had a lot of fun doing it. I have since played through the game about a dozen times, and still enjoy it.

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


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Best Version: NES

— This section contains spoilers! —


  • As run-and-guns go, this one is well-made. There are numerous weapons, each is effective, you can ride in tanks, the environment changes in each level, harder enemies appear as you progress, and there is variety among the bosses.
  • For the time and platform, the graphics are quite good. The engine is capable of supporting a huge amount of sprites on the screen at once. The mine cart stage also impressively simulates a full-screen rotation.
  • The music composed by Kazuhiro Nishida, Yoko Osaka, and Toshikazu Tanaka is really good with lots of up-tempo tunes and marches. Although the fidelity is lower than the arcade hardware, I actually prefer this soundtrack.
  • The story, though limited and censored in the USA, is a good backdrop.
  • The game has great map design. Each stage has new and unique terrains, hostages are held in interesting locations, and guns show up in certain areas to help showcase them. For example, the flamethrower is common along the river, and the laser is common outside of the mines.
  • Having the enemy use refugees as human shields makes the game more complex.
  • Adding multiple difficulty levels that change the behavior of the enemies and bosses is a nice touch that adds game play.
  • The ending sequence is pretty awesome and far more satisfying than the arcade original.


  • Unlimited continues may seem nice, but, because you are allowed to continue right where you left off, it ultimately hurts the game. Victory is guaranteed no matter how terrible you are at the game, you're basically just going through the motions until you eventually win. I would have preferred continues that either make you restart the level, or a limited number. Failing that, at least having a counter at the end to show how many times you died so you could keep score that way. Luckily, the game is fun enough that this doesn't ruin it.
  • Since the difficulty/warp screen is not documented in the game, and most kids lose the manual (or never read it in the first place), it often goes overlooked.
  • While the difficulty setting adds a nice challenge, beating the game on hard mode doesn't offer any additional reward in the end.


  • Even on easy difficulty, the game is unbelievably hard, so, if you want to beat it without continuing, you have to slowly sneak your way across every inch of the map in order to prevent being overwhelmed, which ruins the theme, not to mention the fun, of the game.


Box Art




Longplay, perfect run.

Differences Between the Arcade and NES Port

  • Since the NES doesn't feature a rotating joystick, player control was altered to just face the direction the player is moving.
  • The NES port has several new levels, guns, enemies, refugee types, and bosses.
  • Naturally, the arcade has superior graphics, although the NES port has a larger variety.
  • In the arcade game, when you pick up a gun, you get limited ammo. In the NES port, you keep the gun until you die.
  • In the NES port you have unlimited grenades.
  • In the arcade, when you die, you go back to the last check point. In the NES, you respawn immediately and the action never stops.
  • The arcade uses FM synthesis audio, while the NES uses the weaker NES APU. However, the NES uses a completely new and larger soundtrack.
  • The NES port gives you unlimited continues.
  • The NES port has difficulty settings adjustable by the player and a built-in stage warp.
  • The NES port has a longer ending with various animations and new music.


Roles Staff
Director Koji Obata (as Mr Oba)
Designer Kepara, Yokohiro
Main Programmer Yukio Kaneda (as KNT no Kinchan Die)
Assistant Programmers John Guso, Fly Garuda [JP version], Ninja Sasuke [US version],
Composers Kazuhiro Nishida (as Kenny), Yoko Osaka (as Oh Chan), Toshikazu Tanaka (as Tarkun)
Special Thanks (Original Team) SNK Jr, Akira Goto (as Akira G), Tetsuya
Special Thanks Kazuto Kouno (as Mr Kohno), Kita Kitsuteru (as Mr Kita), Jiroshima, Rushana, Tokisato, Uncle Boo Boo
Supervisor Eikichi Kawasaki
Box Illustrator Marc Ericksen


Language Native Transliteration Translation
English Guerrilla War
Japanese ゲバラ Gebara Guevara


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