Day One: Jackal

Konami’s Jackal wasn’t merely my first contact with the greatness that is Konami, it was also one of my first experiences with gaming in general. And a nice first impression it was.

Technically speaking, Jackal was most likely not the first game I ever played — but it is the first game I remember playing. The machine was in a crappy local convenience store in Mimico near my grade one school. I was new. I knew no one. We had nothing. I didn’t even know any English.

Despite that, a mere quarter was all it took to get into that Jackal jeep. Arcade games were simple by nature, so despite my language limitations I knew exactly what to do and how to do it. During a time when I couldn’t understand TV (I don’t think we even had one at that point), music, and my peers, it was the only escapism to be had — outside my own imagination. That’s when the seeds for my love of gaming were planted, and it’s all thanks to Konami.

A few short months later, my parents bought me the then new Nintendo Entertainment System. Oh how that fond memory remains; standing at the bus stop on the way to Sherway Gardens. After that, I was set for life.

Despite this affection for “Jackal”, I never did own a copy of the game. Perhaps I rented it once, but I never owned it. In fact, other than through some (bad! illegal!) emulation, I haven’t played it since the 80s. I resolved this yesterday:

Jackal box and cartridge

Nostalgia often paints a favourable image, no matter how bad the subject matter. This is a risk often taken when reminiscing. Many fond memories have been destroyed by the realization that “This Sucks! What the hell was I thinking back then?”

Jackal definitely is not such a title. The game holds up remarkably well. The controls are very smooth and intuitive, the graphics are good, the music is acceptable, the difficulty curve is perfect, and, most importantly, the game is still fun.

Jackal gameplay.

And while it’s not one of Konami’s all time best (that’s a long list!), it’s one of the most influential games in my life. Rather impressive for a game that I likely never put more than $15 into. Total. Counting arcade quarters and yesterday’s purchase. I ♥ Konami.

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