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Cuban Revolution Gets Video Game Treatment

By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ

HAVANA (AP) â¿¿ Fight your way through mangrove swamps shoulder-to-shoulder with bearded guerrillas clad in the olive green of Fidel Castro and Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Your mission: Topple 1950s Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Out to foil you are helmeted Batista soldiers and police in mustard-yellow uniforms who pop out from behind trees and fire from trucks and farmhouses. You pick them off with a vintage Colt .45 or Springfield rifle in classic first-person-shooter style. If you're hit three times, it's revolution over.

Island programmers have unveiled a brand new 3-D shoot-'em-up video game that puts a distinctly Cuban twist on gaming, letting players recreate decisive clashes from the 1959 revolution and giving youngsters a taste of the uprising in which many of their grandparents fought.

"The player identifies with the history of Cuba," said Haylin Corujo, head of video game studies for Cuba's Youth Computing Club and the leader of the team of a dozen developers who created "Gesta Final" â¿¿ which translates roughly as "Final Heroic Deed." ''You can be a participant in the battles that were fought in the war from '56 to '59."

The game starts with the user joining the 82 rebels who in 1956 sailed to Cuba from Mexico aboard the Granma, the creaky and now-iconic yacht that has become synonymous with the revolution.

After a brief description of the historic landing â¿¿ a spectacular disaster that very nearly derailed the rebellion when some three-quarters of the Granma's passengers were killed â¿¿ you find yourself wading through the wetlands of southeastern Cuba surrounded by fellow guerrillas, identifiable by the black-and-red armbands of Fidel and Raul Castro's revolutionary movement.

The keyboard-operated game has five levels, most named after battles like "La Plata" and "El Uvero," and the scenery is full of ancient vehicles and the ferns, canebrakes and mountain trails typical of the Cuban countryside. A metallic soundtrack of gunshots and explosions accompanies the fast-paced action.

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