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Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode certainly features one of the most diverse ranges of gameplay styles of any NES game. As Golgo 13, the player spends most of their time in side-scrolling action sequences in which he must kick, jumpkick and shoot his assailants as he makes his way from one meeting to the next. He is unable to duck, but can jump incredibly high.
Frequently, a hand holding a gun will appear in the foreground and fire at Golgo 13. This switches the game to a first-person sequence in which the player must blast enemies attacking Golgo 13 from 360 degrees.
The game also includes side-scrolling shooting sequences in which Golgo 13 flies a helicopter, as well as levels that take place underwater with Golgo 13 in a scuba suit and armed with a spear gun, and a series of surprisingly complex first-person mazes. The instruction booklet which accompanied the game included maps for these mazes. There are also a few sniping moments in the game, but unlike the sniping sections of the game's follow-up, The Mafat Conspiracy, it is impossible to miss a shot.
The game's story is complex and surprisingly dialogue-heavy for an NES game, although Duke Togo remains a man of few words, and frequently responds to comments by other characters with ". . . ."
The adventure takes Duke Togo from Berlin to Greece to Rio de Janeiro to the Amazon. Although the original Japanese release involved the Nazi regime, the evil organization's name was changed to DREK for the United States release.
Top Secret Episode is also noteworthy for its inclusion of sexual subject matter. At a few times throughout the game, Duke meets with female operatives in hotel rooms, and the game depicts, from afar, Duke and the woman coming together before the lights in the room fade.