Commodore User1st September 1988
Published in Commodore User #60
Situated thousands of miles away from Vietnam in America (right hand over heart, look at sky patriotically) you (and up to three unlucky buddies) have been drafted to fight for freedom, democracy and liberty. But before you get to kick the hides of some Commie pinko subversive Charlies, basic training has to be mastered.
Cascade's 19 provides players with some Combat School style gameplay based loosely on the Paul Hardcastle 'Nam song.
First off is the assault course, a must for all would-be cowards. A variety of obstacles, as the name suggests, assaults you. To save you getting all hot and smelly pounding on your joysticks, to clear an obstacle you have to time your movement by using a little bar at the base of the screen. Pressing fire starts a small marker moving to the right of a bar and releasing fire when the bar goes red at the precise point on the approach to the obstacle will start the appropriate movement. However, the car only stays red for a short period of time so you can't cheat by keeping fire permanently depressed. On the monkey bars, nudge bar and the concrete pipe, precise left and right movements are also needed to swing, shuffle or crawl depending on what you're trying to traverse.
If you can make it past the assault course with both legs and your head intact you are then skilled in the art of 'plugging' the enemy with a 7.62 bullet on the shooting range. This is a task for real men (and women). No poofy crosshairs here, the targets spring up and you can scroll the view through your sight using the directional controls. There is no indication on which bit of the screen you are actually targeted on apart from the scenery which is expanded in your sight, so it takes a good guess and quick reactions to get to the right bit of the screen before the target drops.
Jeep driving is the third event, a section that falls flat on its face compared to the other stages. Drive your jeep avoid the obstacles and collect bonuses.
Last is the unarmed combat between you and the drill sergeant - hardly IK+ but it passes. Only a small number of moves grace your joystick, including jabs, kicks, headbutts and punches, and as with all the other events you get a time limit in which to beat merry hell out of your opponent.
At the end of your training you get the final ratings based on your performance throughout the stages ranging from abysmal to exceptional. You can then save out your character for use in 19 Part Two, whenever that appears. Nice gimmick.
On the title screen and most of the stages an excellent rendition of the tune Nineteen is played, converted by Rob Hubbard no less. The graphics are quite effective for the most part: the scrolling and backdrops of the assault course and the gunsight in the shooting range, though the scrolling on the jeep section leaves a lot to be desired. When you go up a hill, the bottom half of the play area blanks out and oncoming objects are impossible to see.
There is enough in Nineteen to keep anybody going for a substantial amount of time. Each event has eight rounds (though only one needs to be completed to advance to the next section) and every round needs to be completed to gain a full rating of 'Exceptional'.
Nineteen is surprisingly good - not fantastic, but still a darn good game.