G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero is a 1991 run and gun game published by Taxan for the Nintendo Entertainment System based on the toyline of the same name. The game was produced by Ken Lobb and developed by the same Japanese team that later formed KID.
The six missions that the G.I. Joe team members must progress through each take place in a different part of the world: the Amazon, Antarctica, New York City, The Black Hills, and the Sahara. The game’s final mission takes place in Cobra Headquarters.
The player takes control of a team of three G.I. Joe characters, each with their own specialty. The player’s goal is to navigate through six stages (with several areas each) on a mission to finally bring down Cobra. The initial character roster consists of Duke, Snake Eyes, Blizzard, Captain Grid-Iron, and Rock ‘n Roll. A sixth character, Hawk, gives orders to the team between missions, and becomes available as a playable character for the final stage. Each level had a character that was pre-determined to lead the team, meaning that one character in the given area would be chosen by default, and the player would then select the two other operatives to complete their team.
The player collects power-ups in the game that increases an individual character’s abilities. Gun icons increases firepower, K-rations recovers energy, and Chevron icons increases the current character’s maximum stamina. Bullet icons refills the player’s collective ammunition and bulletproof vest icons that grant temporary invincibility are also available at designated locations on each area. Icons flashing in red are more valuable than ordinary icons. All upgrades garnered during the course of the game are permanent, provided of course the character survives the mission.
Certain areas have empty enemy vehicles that the main character can operate. The three different vehicles available are the Buzz Boar, the Pogo, and the Battle Copter. The player can still plant bombs while riding these vehicles.
The format of each stage is broken up into three different areas, which follows the following formula: In the first area, the player’s team would fight their way into one of Cobra’s bases. In the second area, the player’s team has to plant a certain number of bombs inside the base before a pre-determined amount of time. The final area of the stage is a fight with the base’s commander. The game issues the player a password for each level completed. The Cobra soldiers and bosses (Range-Viper, Metal-Head, Overlord, Voltar, Destro and Cobra Commander) are all based on characters from the toyline.