In the 1980s the Cold War was heating up as global conflicts and burgeoning military forces continued to aggravate the fragile relationship between the two primary superpowers in the world. Of course, this freaked a lot of people out, and for a while many people believed that it was just a matter of time before the Russians would invade the United States or vice versa. It was exactly that sense of panic that brought the release of films such as Red Dawn, Invasion U.S.A., and WarGames. In 1985 Konami tried to cash in on the mass paranoia with a video game as well. The arcade game Rush 'n Attack was a basic side-scrolling action game in which you played as a knife-wielding green beret who had to go behind enemy lines in Russia to free four prisoners of war. A slightly enhanced version of the game is now available for Xbox Live Arcade for the low price of 400 points ($5). It's worth the price if you have an affinity for classic arcade action games, but compared to other Xbox Live Arcade games, Rush 'n Attack has very little to offer.
In Rush 'n Attack you have to run from left to right through four stages full of rushing Russians who will shoot, jump-kick, and run into you, all of which cause you to die instantly. The stages are short, but enemies come from both the left and the right sides of the screen, so you're constantly under attack. The enemies are very predictable because they follow the same patterns every time you play, which means that the best way to get through the game is by dying over and over until you've memorized every stage. You get only three lives, and there are no continues, which makes Rush 'n Attack a very difficult game to finish. If you're extremely skilled you can clear the entire game in less than 10 minutes, and you'll even get an achievement for it.
The levels are simple enough, but since your primary weapon is a knife, you'll be in close combat most of the time, which means that even the smallest slipup can kill you. You can pick up a few weapons, including a flamethrower, a rocket launcher, and grenades. These items can kill several enemies from a distance, but each weapon is limited to three uses. The action gets repetitive very quickly, and because you'll die so often, you'll end up seeing the same few levels every few minutes over and over again.
In addition to playing Rush 'n Attack in single-player mode, you can play it online cooperatively or in versus mode. The online play isn't anything to get excited about, though, because it plays exactly like the single-player game. When you play co-op, both players play the game simultaneously, and their scores are added together for one overall score. The game is mostly the same in versus mode, except that each player has his or her own individual score, and the one with the highest score at the end of the game is the winner. You don't even get to see what the other player is doing, so there's very little sense that you're even playing with or against another person.
The graphics have been enhanced for the Xbox Live Arcade version of Rush 'n Attack, but they still look unimpressive. The enhanced graphics are a bit more colorful and less pixelated, and there are details like falling snow that aren't present in the original game. However, even with the enhanced visuals you'll still see the same bland backgrounds, erratic animations, and identical faceless sprites. You can play the game with the original graphics, but that won't change the experience much.
If you played Rush 'n Attack on the Nintendo Entertainment System, you'll find a much different experience in the Xbox Live Arcade version. The arcade version lacked a couple of levels and had a different setup than the NES version, so bear that in mind if you're considering purchasing this game. If you're feeling nostalgic for this simple side-scrolling action game, you'll likely get bored after about five minutes. None of the additions or enhancements bring anything new or exciting to the game, and although it's relatively inexpensive, you're better off spending your points on other, better Xbox Live Arcade games.