Rocket Ranger

Moby ID: 45
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Description official descriptions

In the 1940s, the Nazis built a base on the moon and plan to use a mysterious substance called Lunarium to reduce people's intelligence. However, in the 21st Century time travel has been mastered, as have jet-propulsion backpacks, plus some cataclysmic weaponry and advanced code-breaking equipment. These items are sent back in time to you in order to change the result of the war by using this technology to find their five rocket factories and destroy the moon base.

The game fits the Cinemaware template closely, with a string of action sequences linked by cinematic animation sequences to set the scene. There's also a strategic element, as you move your spies around to gain information and avoid detection, and decide how much Lunarium to use at each stage of the game. Action sequences include hand-to-hand combat with a Nazi guard, and flying through the air shooting either hordes of enemy planes or the Zeppelin itself.

An "Extended Collector's Edition" of the game was released in 2018. It is a limited edition of 500 and contains the game in multiple languages and for multiple platforms, and contains as bonuses posters, stickers, postcards, and the soundtrack on vinyl.

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Credits (DOS version)

17 People



Average score: 77% (based on 21 ratings)


Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 72 ratings with 2 reviews)

The quintesential Cinemaware game--they finally got everything right.

The Good
Rocket Ranger brings together everything that Cinemaware was attempting in their unique genre: Great hand-drawn graphics, a compelling storyline, good action sequences, and greatly improved strategy without bogging down the gaming experience. Everything is in perfect balance here.

The Bad
The strategy in Rocket Ranger is one of Cinemaware's better efforts, but strays toward being too hard instead of their usual "too easy". The Nazis move in realtime, and their time inevitably seems much slower than yours (in other words, they acheive things startingly quick).

Granted, the strategy elements are simplistic to those who enjoy true strategy games, but what is presented could have used a difficulty setting.

The Bottom Line
When someone mentions a Cinemaware game fondly, this is the game they're talking about. Except for the difficulty level, there is nothing to hate about Rocket Ranger.

DOS · by Trixter (8952) · 1999

Proves that graphics aren't everything - playability is.

The Good
The control. Unlike in the borderline-unplayable Amiga version, the control in the MS-DOS version of this game is fairly responsive, making the action minigames easier to play.

Some other cruelly hard portions of the original, such as the conversations where the wrong option was an instant game over, have been taken out of this version. Your success in what would have been those portions now depends on your success at the action minigames, as it should be.

The setting. As a big fan of Indiana Jones, "pulp" adventurers and heroes interest me, and anything inspired by Commando Cody gets big points with me.

The graphics. Obviously, they couldn't do the Amiga's graphics, but what we have here is still stellar for MS-DOS, EGA standards.

The Bad
The difficulty is still as high as the Amiga version because your success largely depends on luck - crippling their efficiency rating to acceptable levels means being able to find and attack all the important Nazi facilities as quickly as possible in one go and still have enough lunarium on your jetpack to go back to the US. The odds are so far from being in your favor, it's mind-boggling.

The sound. PC speaker sound stinks, plain and simple.

The Bottom Line
Call me crazy, but I like to play video games, not gawk in disbelief at how beautiful they look in magazine screenshots. So when given a choice between a beautiful-looking game that I can't play and a more modest-looking one that I can, I will choose the latter, every time. And this is the version of Rocket Ranger I can play, so it meets my approval (and is the one that made me a Cinemaware fan).

Just lower the CPU cycles in DOSBox to around 500, get the correct copy protection sheet, and try to remember that it's from 1988 and some game design philosophies didn't exist yet. And you'll find this is the best "pulp rocketman" game (after Dark Void) you'll ever play.

DOS · by Ognimod Zeta (11) · 2022


Subject By Date
Censorship in Germany Edwin Drost (9385) Feb 16, 2017


Amiga version

The original Amiga version of the game has the most pictures, sound effects, digitized voices and animations of any version of the game. Various pictures, animations, etc. that were in the Amiga original didn't make it into ports to other platforms.

Comic spin off

Between 1991 and 1992 Malibu released five issues of a comic series in the game universe, also named Rocket Ranger. The series was planned to have six issues, but the last one was never released. (Sources: Amiga Power #7, 1991/11, Grand Comic Database)

Copy protection

Rocket Ranger is one of the few games that got code-wheel copy-protection right: You simply cannot play the game without the code wheel, and there is no way to "crack" the game because the code wheel is an integral part of gameplay.

DOS version

According to programmer Peter Oliphant, the DOS VGA version has an extra game which is not present in the Amiga lead version. This came about because there was no design document and so he just had to work from the things the programmer of the Amiga version had already finished. At some point, he got ahead and had to wait until more of the Amiga version materialized - and so he developed an extra mini game in that spare time.

NES version

The NES version of the game omits all references to Nazis and World War 1 and changes the storyline to suit a science fiction plot: The year is 1990 and an alien moon appears. The aliens descend to earth and establish the country of Greater Leutonia (which happens to be where Germany is) as the first step on subjugating the world. Only the Rocket Rangers can stop them and eventually obtain the technology to build a rocket ship and destroy their moon. There also exists a Amiga version with the same changes.


The sci-fi plot for Rocket Ranger is centered around a base on the moon that the Nazis built. Oddly enough, there are some crackpot people, among them a man named Vladimir Terziski, that claim that the Nazis really did build a base on the moon during World War II.


One of the Game Over messages sees you remember your Grandmother telling you that "if God meant for us to fly, he would have given us wings". This was the famous quote of Rev. Milton Wright in 1903, 3 months before his famous sons Orville and Wilbur made the first flight. Before long, planes were in mass use - for more on this, check out Wings.


The end credits mention Rocket Ranger 2, which has yet to materialize as of 2012.

Regional differences

The German release of the game is in English but it is censored and replaces the Nazi plot with a science fiction plot involving an alien invasion. The French release is also in English but the plot was intact. The French version was published in France by Ubi Soft.


  • Amiga Power
    • May 1991 (issue #00) - #73 in the "All Time Top 100 Amiga Games"
  • Commodore Format
    • June 1991 (Issue 9) - listed in the A to Z of Classic Games article (Great)
  • Commodore Computing International
    • March 1989 (Issue 7) - Winner of the Amiga's "1988 Arcade Adventure of The Year"
  • Computer and Video Games
    • Issue 06/1989 - Winner Golden Joystick Award 1989 for Best 16-Bit Graphics (reader's vote)
  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #45 in the “150 Best Games of All Time” list
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #4 Best Way To Die In Computer Gaming (see “Game Over” trivia in the References section)

Information also contributed by Johnny "ThunderPeel2001" Walker, Martin Smith, PCGamer77, Ricky Derocher and WildKard


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Related Sites +

  • AtariMania (Mirrorsoft, UK, Atari ST)
    For Atari ST: game entry database; downloadable release; game packaging; advertisement; manuals; magazine reviews; additional material.
  • DOSBox, an x86 emulator with DOS
    Compatibility information page about the original game and its DOSBox versions.
  • Hall of Light
    For Amiga: game database entry; digitalised manuals; game packaging; screenshots; additional material.
  • Lemon 64
    For Commodore 64: game entry database; advertisement; magazine reviews; music; documentation; cover art; additional material.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 45
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Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Trixter.

Amiga added by EboMike. Commodore 64 added by Quapil. Windows added by Cavalary. NES added by Shoddyan. iPad, Android, iPhone added by Kabushi. FM Towns added by Terok Nor. Apple IIgs added by Scaryfun. Atari ST added by Ricky Derocher.

Additional contributors: Martin Smith, Patrick Bregger, mailmanppa, Jo ST, FatherJack, ZeTomes.

Game added March 1, 1999. Last modified March 29, 2024.