Rambo - The Making Of The Game

The paste had hardly dried on the film posters before we heard that Rambo was to be made into a game by Ocean. How did they get it? And just how do you go about turning a 90 minute feature film into a game? Mike 'Hotshots' Pattenden travelled away to Manchester to find out.

Since the success of Ghostbusters, games based on films are now a major source of income to the software world. But these days it's no longer a case of basing a game upon a popular film, A View To A Kill changed all that. Now the game is launched while the film is still rolling in the cinemas.

Rambo had to be an obvious choice for a computer game. Few films have stirred up the fever of enthusiasm that Sylvester Stallone's explosive return to Vietnam has created since its release here in August. Over in America it's grossed $130 million and looks set to be the biggest film yet. It has gone down well all over the world, packing out cinemas in war stricken Beirut and even El Salvador.

Everyone loves a shoot 'em up, and that is really all Rambo is, an indestructible comic strip hero who goes around destroying batallions of enemy troops, tanks and helicopters. It already sounds like a number of computer games on the market, so it came as no surprise to learn that Ocean had scored the deal to make the game of the film of the game.


"We had the Rambo deal fixed up well before it got here, before all the hype about banning it and Reagan making those comments," says Ocean director John Woods. In fact the deal was fixed up back in June when the rights to make the game were handed to Ocean on a plate by the company responsible for fixing all licensing deals for Rambo in this country, Movie Media Marketing. Tim Massey was the man responsible for offering Ocean the deal.

"One of the offshoots from the film we discussed with its owners was a computer game, and as it turned out we went straight to Ocean, because they have such a good reputation. Ocean came back with an offer which was very reasonable and that was it." The sum? Well of course no-one is saying but Tim Massey quoted "a substantial amount". We have to be talking telephone numbers.

With the deal fixed up, all Ocean had to do then was produce the goods. The only criteria being that it's produced quickly and that it's not naff. Looking at the track record of many games based on films that's a tall order.
President Ronald Reagan
President Ronald Reagan

In 1985 he made an off-hand comment that he had a much better idea of how to deal with America’s enemies after having seen Rambo the night before.


"The first we knew about it was when John Woods comes in and says `I've got a present for you, we're doing Rambo'. We just went YYEEESS!!" The enthusiasm boils over from the sandwich-filled mouth of chief programmer and software development manager David Collier. He along with Tony Pomfret and Merton Gallway makes up the Rambo team. At twenty-six he's not exactly your programming whizz-kid, but he has got a good track record behind him, which is apt because he was responsible for Hyper sports and before that Daley Thompson's Decathlon.

Tony Pomfret and David Collier
The Rambo team: Pomfret and Collier - you've seen more meat on a butcher's apron!

I was surprised to learn, though, that nineteen-year-old Tony Pomfret has had a computer for longer. They work as a team and they work fast. Nor are they your identikit programming types. "Look, tell them we don't come from good schools and we haven't been to university. We're both from Atherton, that's near Wigan, and we're layabouts, we're not stiffs!" says Tony. As if to prove the point we head off to the pub and shoot pool.

It sounds as if they have an easy time of it, but of course they don't. It takes a lot of thought and effort to produce a game. Not in quite the way I thought, though. I had expected to find 'the team' ensconced in front of a video of the film, eating endless TV dinners, memorising every move. True to form, Pomfret and Collier [listening to them it's more like Cannon and Ball actually) don't work that way. They saw the preview and that was it.