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.

Although I first saw the game in an arcade, I never played it. 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, 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 NES port; the American version on hard mode and Japanese version 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, 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 music composed by Kazuhiro Nishida, Yoko Osaka, and Toshikazu Tanaka is really good with lots of up-tempo tunes and marches.
  • The story, though limited and censored in the USA, is a good backdrop.
  • The maps are designed in such a way that guns show up frequently in certain sections to help showcase them.
  • 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 is pretty awesome.


  • While unlimited continues may seem nice, because they allow you to keep playing right where you left off, it hurts the game. Since victory is guaranteed, 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. 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 don't read it), 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 of the game.


Box Art




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 which I prefer.
  • 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.


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


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