🐳 New! Moby v2023.12.02

Airborne Ranger

aka: Airborne Ranger: The Action-Simulation
Moby ID: 1297
Commodore 64 Specs

Description official descriptions

In this action/simulation game by Microprose the player takes the role of an U.S. Army airborne ranger. These Airborne rangers are dropped behind enemy lines by parachute to perform all kinds of dangerous missions. Gameplay consists of 3 phases: 1. Reading the mission briefing and outfitting 3 supply pods with machine gun ammo, time bombs, first-aid kits, grenades & LAW rockets depending on this briefing. 2. Flying over the mission map in a V-22 Osprey plane to drop your 3 supply pods and parachuting out of the plane yourself. 3. Performing the actual missions and reaching the pick-up point before time runs out. There are 12 different missions which include capturing an enemy officer, blowing up an ammunition depot, photographing an experimental aircraft and liberating P.O.W.'s

Missions take place in either an arctic, desert or temperate setting. Using the mission map the player must decide the route towards the mission objective. This might require them to crawl through trenches, run around minefields or take out enemy soldiers and bunkers. Airborne Ranger was one of the first games with some missions that required a stealthy approach (staying undetected until a certain time, taking out a guard and stealing an enemy uniform etc.).

Airborne Ranger can be played in practice or veteran mode. In practice mode, gameplay is limited to a single mission, while in veteran mode, a series of missions or an entire campaign is played in order to earn medals & promotions. All missions can be played on several difficulty levels.

Groups +



Credits (Commodore 64 version)

19 People (16 developers, 3 thanks)

Original Concept
Game Design
Original Software Development (C-64)
Computer Graphics
Sounds Effects
Print Creative Director
Manual Illustrations
Layout Design
Print Graphics
Quality Assurance
Special Thanks To



Average score: 78% (based on 16 ratings)


Average score: 3.2 out of 5 (based on 52 ratings with 4 reviews)

I wanna be an Airborne Ranger! I wanna live a life of danger!

The Good
Airborne Ranger is an interesting game with varied gameplay. It's an early attempt at creating a military-themed action game that incorporates elements of stealth (don't worry action fans; in some missions you can still live out your Rambo fantasies). Compared with popular arcade shooters of that era like Commando, 1942 and Ikari Warriors Airborne Ranger offers infinitely more gameplay options & variation. For example, a typical mission in Airborne Ranger consists of 3 phases:

  1. Outfitting your supply pods. In this section you select which weapons you put in your 3 supply pods depending on the mission briefing you've read earlier. For example if a mission is very tough you can decide to include extra first aid packets that heal you. Each type of weapon has it's own amount of weight. A LAW rocket has a weight of 6, which is six times as much as the weight of a carbine mag. A supply pod can contain up to 21 weight units so you need to make some trade-offs.
  2. Dropping your supply pods & parachuting into enemy territory. You pilot a V-22 Osprey plane over the mission map and decide where to drop your pods. For instance if you decide to avoid combat in the early stages and want to complete your objectives as fast as possible you may want to drop your pods in the top part of the map (this is the area where you actually have to complete your objectives). This means you don't carry a lot of ammo (= weight) with you in the early stages and you can run for long periods of time. On the other hand, if you want to engage in combat early you must spread out your supply pods. Note that there's also a maximum to the amount of weight you can carry so it's useless to pick up all the supply pods immediately, you would only waste ammo. The V-22 Osprey flies over the map only once and you don't get to see the map in advance so you'll have to improvise. Be sure not to drop your pods on a structure, a minefield or into a lake or it is lost. Finally you need to jump out yourself at the bottom part of the level.
  3. The actual mission. The missions have all kinds of objectives like: photographing an experimental aircraft, freeing hostages, knocking out enemy enemy radar, capturing an enemy officer etc. In some missions you need to keep a low profile; you run from trench to trench using the time you spend in a trench to regain your breath. In other missions you must create a lot of damage by blowing up bunkers & special structures and killing soldiers. After your mission you'll need to go to the pick-up point. You can decide your own route through the level but be sure to be at the pick-up point before the timer reaches zero or the plane leaves without you and you'll be M.I.A. (another ranger can later liberate you by performing a "Free the P.O.W.'s" mission). The missions take place in 3 different settings: the desert, an arctic setting and a temperate setting. In the temperate setting you can hide underwater, in the arctic setting you can lure enemy soldiers onto unstable patches of ice; so the terrain is somewhat interactive. Moreover there are multiple maps for each mission (or they are randomly generated). You don't have to play the missions in a particular order unless you select the campaign mode.
Other noteworthy gameplay elements:
  • If you’re wounded (or carry a lot of ammo), you can't run very far before running out of stamina.
  • In some missions you can kill an enemy soldier and wear his uniform.
  • Use time bombs for delayed destruction.
  • You can decide how far you want to throw a grenade by holding down the fire button for varying periods of time.
  • You can dodge enemy bullets by crawling through trenches.
I wouldn't call the graphics spectacular, but they do the job. Supposedly the game supports the MCGA graphics mode, but I could only get the EGA mode to work. Airborne Ranger doesn't have Soundblaster support, so I'm glad there isn't any music.The amount of sound effects is minimal but every one of them is functional. For instance, you can stop and listen for footsteps to know whether an enemy soldier is near.

**The Bad**
It is of course unfair to compare this game with recent entries in the stealth genre like Splinter Cell or Thief 2, but when you do this you'll see that the whole stealth element isn't implemented very well in Airborne Ranger. Because of the amount of (infinitely spawning ) soldiers in each level, it's virtually impossible to remain unnoticed. Even when I used my knife, which is of course the weapon that creates the least amount of noise, to kill them it seemed I ran into one every fifteen seconds. I don't think I ever completed a mission in which I killed less than 35 soldiers.
  • The campaign mode lacks a decent ending. You just play the twelve available missions one after another without any reward. You do get another promotion but nothing special happens.
  • On the two (out of four) difficulty settings the game is impossibly to beat.
  • It's rather silly, but a small desert bush can block an incoming LAW rocket.

**The Bottom Line**
Join the U.S. special forces and perform all kinds of missions behind enemy lines. I may not be the first stealth game (that honor probably goes to the original Castle Wolfenstein), but nonetheless Airborne Ranger is one of the pioneers of the genre. Because of it's diversity it's still damn fun to play too, even though it's over fifteen years old.

DOS · by Roedie (5221) · 2001

Great Arcade Action

The Good
Well when I was a kid I wanted to be a soldier so bad. I dreamed of the day that I would be a Airborne Ranger and jump into battle. This game had a lot to do with that dream

 This game had great replayability and great challenges.  I loved the Destroy a plane mission.  If I could figure out a way to play this on a P3 I would probably still be playing this one.  As for my dream of being a ranger.  Well.... I did join the army but none of that jumping out of a plane nonsense.  <br><br>**The Bad**<br>If you landed your bag of equipment on anything it would be destoryed.  (I guess that is reasonable)  <br><br>**The Bottom Line**<br>Great Classic.  But for arcade and military types only.

DOS · by William Shawn McDonie (1130) · 2001

The earliest tactical shooter still holds up today

The Good
A "stealth" shooter, where emphasis is on avoiding enemy detection (even if it's just 2D sprites), this game is very different from your typical game. Distract enemies by using timed explosives or rockets, manage your supplies carefully to last through the entire map. The "career" is very nicely done, as the missions tie together. If one of your rangers were captured (ran out of ammo and surrounded), another ranger may get a POW rescue mission which can recover that ranger!

The Bad
The missions are a bit repetitive, some of the missions are really hard as you run into robot tanks, flame throwers, etc. where one shot and you're dead, no mid-game saves, etc.

The Bottom Line
Airborne Ranger is the earliest tactical shooter, long before Rainbow Six reinvented the genre in 3D. As a ranger, your job is to infiltrate enemy territory in parachute, glide to a landing without alerting enemies, then sneak through the many defenses (pill boxes, patrols, concertina wires, etc.), killing the enemy if necesary, accomplish your mission (which could be steal documents, demolition, take pictures of new enemy jet, capture, rescue POW, and more), and be extracted. The graphics are rather plain 2D, as this game is long before the advent of 3D graphics. Yet the action holds up quite well, as you tensely wait for the enemy patrol to walk by before you continue on your way, staying out of site, only use your weapons when absolutely necesary. You have your trusty Ka-bar knife, CAR-15, demolition charges, and even LAW rockets. You also have first aid kits to heal wounds. While not quite "one shot and you're dead", you can only take three hits, which means death CAN come swiftly when they do. As you sneak through the enemy territory you may run into some supplies dropped by earlier flights, which adds to the fun factor, as you had to choose where to drop those supplies. The game is a lot of fun then, and it's still a lot of fun now, and nothing has really came close (except Rainbow Six, but in a different way).

DOS · by Kasey Chang (4601) · 2000

[ View all 4 player reviews ]



The manual includes a large overview of the history of the rangers (from the American War of Independence until Vietnam) and detailed information about ranger training, weapons and equipment.


  • Commodore Force
    • December 1993 (Issue 13) – #97 “Readers' Top 100”

Related Games

101: The Airborne Invasion of Normandy
Released 1998 on Windows
Box Ranger
Released 1992 on DOS
Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia
Released 2008 on Nintendo DS, 2016 on Wii U
Ranger X
Released 1993 on Genesis
Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs
Released 2010 on Nintendo DS, 2016 on Wii U
Air Ranger: Rescue Helicopter
Released 2002 on PlayStation 2
Dying Light: Enhanced Edition - Harran Ranger Bundle
Released 2016 on PlayStation 4, Linux, Macintosh...
Asphalt 8: Airborne
Released 2013 on iPhone, Android, Windows Apps...

Related Sites +

  • AtariMania
    for Atari ST: game entry database; downloadable release; software sets; advertisement; manuals; magazine reviews; additional material.
  • CPC-Power (in French)
    for Amstrad CPC: game database entry; package material; manual digitalizations; advertisement; magazine reviews; downloadable releases; additional material.
  • CPCRrulez (in French)
    for Amstrad CPC: game database entry; advertisement; package material; downloadable releases; media; additional material.
  • Commodore 64 Boxed Sets
    For C64: high quality software sets (box; digitalised manual; miscellaneous; screenshots).
  • DOSBox, an x86 emulator with DOS
    Statistics page of compatibility with original DOS version.
  • Hall of Light
    for Amiga: game database entry; digitalised manuals; package material digitalizations; screenshots; additional material.
  • Kio's home
    for ZX Spectrum: additional material including – photographed cassete inlay; snapshots; downloadable releases.
  • Lemon 64
    For C64: game entry database; magazine reviews; music; manual; cover art digitalizations; additional material.
  • Lemon Amiga
    for Amiga: game database entry; magazine reviews; instructions; additional material.
  • Replacementdocs (Keyboard Overlay)
    Literature for Amiga.
  • Replacementdocs (Manual)
    Literature for Amiga.
  • Replacementdocs (Quick Reference Card)
    Literature for Commodore 64.
  • Replacementdocs (Technical Supplement)
    Literature for Amiga.
  • World of Spectrum
    for ZX Spectrum: downloadable releases; additional material including – cassete inlay, advertisement, instructions; player reviews; magazine references; magazine adverts.
  • ZX Spectrum Reviews
    for ZX Spectrum: magazine game reviews in HTML

Identifiers +


Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history!

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by SebastianLi.

Windows added by Plok. Commodore 64 added by Rebound Boy. Amiga, ZX Spectrum, Atari ST added by Kabushi. Amstrad CPC added by Martin Smith.

Additional contributors: Roedie, Patrick Bregger, FatherJack, ZeTomes.

Game added April 12th, 2000. Last modified August 27th, 2023.