Friday, 25 September 2015

Commando (NES review)

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Released: 1986

Commando is a vertically scrolling run 'n' gun game that was originally released in the Arcades in 1985.


There's four missions (with four acts each) and your objective is to defeat an evil army that attack you on foot, in bunkers, as well as by motorcycle and truck. You're armed with a rifle and limited grenades that can be topped up by collecting flashing boxes. The game is challenging from the outset; you're constantly outnumbered and the worst thing you can do is stand in one place; the best method is to run as fast as you can and only engage in combat where necessary. This makes it feel more like a vertically scrolling shoot-em-up rather than a more strategic run 'n' gun game. While most areas consist of bland desert settings there are some cool sections with bridges you can walk under and roads lined with turrets. By throwing grenades you can uncover secret bunkers where you can pick up extra points and rescue hostages. At the end of each area you'll face a boss who's surrounded by henchmen; after you take out most of them he'll start waving a flag to surrender and you move onto the next area. Using a turbo button throughout is recommended as it fixes one of the game's main problems which is imprecise diagonal shooting. The hit detection is also spotty and sometimes bullets will fly straight through an enemy. There's tons of flicker, the scrolling isn't smooth and sprites frequently disappear from the screen. The difficulty doesn't really increase or pace itself so if you've passed the first mission there's nothing else to see. At least there's unlimited continues and fair checkpoints for those that want to see it through to the end. There is a two-player option but unfortunately it doesn't allow for co-op battle.

The NES port of Commando has repetitive gameplay and various technical problems that make it hard to recommend. With only one mission that repeats itself there's little replay value and in my opinion you're better off sticking to Capcom's Gunsmoke (1988, NES) as it's a much improved example of the genre.



Random trivia: Capcom originally outsourced development of NES / Famicom games to a company called Micronics; however, this is the first one that Capcom coded themselves for the system.

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