by Karen Trueman, Keith Burkhill, Nigel Alderton, Rory C. Green
Elite Systems Ltd
Crash Issue 24, Jan 1986   page(s) 130,131

Producer: Elite
Retail Price: £7.95
Language: Machine code

Elite's Commando is the licensed version of the classic Capcom arcade game which has captivated thousands and thousands of arcade gamers all over Britain.

The game involves you taking the role of a super crack commando with a mission to penetrate deep behind enemy lines and destroy their two main fortress. This mission takes place over a vertically scrolling landscape and you, armed with a few grenades and a sub machine gun, have to take on the entire enemy army single handed. There are boxes of grenades lying around the battlefield which you can pick up to replenish your stocks, but otherwise you just have to use your skill, reflexes and sub machine gun to survive.

To reach each fortress you first have to go through four areas, each with its own mini fortress at the end. When you take a mini fortress you are transported to the second area, and so on until you reach the main fortress. If you take and destroy that then you'll start the second mission which has to be completed in similar style, although the landscape and soldiers are far more hostile.

When you approach a fortress its doors open and loads of soldiers pour out, spewing bullets from their guns and lobbing grenades all over the shop. To take the fortress you have to destroy every soldier - not a trivial task. When you've killed all the soldiers then your man automatically runs through the fortress gates, a message of congratulations is printed up on screen and you'll be transported to the next area.

Each area has its own features and hazards. Level one is comparatively easy, but by the time you reach level four the going gets really tough, with lots of obstacles to thwart swift for ward progress. Naturally, there are loads of enemy soldiers swarming all over the place, but luckily they're only armed with single shot rifles and grenades. Even so their sheer number often becomes totally overpowering.

There are two specialist weapons used by enemy soldiers: bazookas and mortars. Mortar bombers don't pose too much of a threat, since they can only fire one pretty inaccurate shot at a time. Bazooka carriers, on the other hand, are deadly and fire round after round of lethal shells which explode in a large cloud of deadly flak.

Vehicles trundle about the landscape. They come in various shapes and sizes and include trucks, jeeps and motorbikes. They've all got to be avoided, but can be destroyed with a well-aimed hand grenade. Jeeps can cause problems, as they carry a gunner armed with a sub machine gun and spell doom if you're not busy pegging it in the opposite direction. Lorries, too, are deadly and carry many soldiers which pile out when their transport stops.

The landscape is very barren - well, what do you expect for a desert? Dotted around are trees, little hills (usually the enemy come belting down the slopes) and rivers (there are always bridges to cross them - you might be a commando but you can't swim!).

Area one is pretty deserted with only a few trees and hills, although there is a bridge which you have go under. The bridge is narrow, and there's usually plenty of enemy soldiers just waiting to pounce on you on the other side. After the bridge there are rocks which the enemy use for cover and after them, the first mini fortress.

Area two is where things start getting tough. Foxholes filled with soldiers block your path, and the only way to kill the soldiers is by lobbing grenades on them. While you're trying to do that they're busily trying to machine gun you down, just to make your life a misery. There are also another two bridges, one to go under and one to go over (it gets you across a river). Buildings and bunkers start to make an appearance too. Yet more soldiers pour from the buildings, while a fusillade of bullets comes from the bunkers.

Areas three and four feature all the hazards found in the earlier sections, only in far greater numbers. On area four, the final run up to the first fortress, you are forced to cross an airport which has lookout towers complete with machine gun wielding soldiers at the top. The areas which lead to the second fortress are diabolical, by comparison with what goes before them. And if you manage to destroy the second fortress then you'll be transported back to the very first area, to start over, but the enemy are more numerous and they fire more accurately.

Points are awarded for disposing of enemy soldiers and vehicles and a hefty bonus can be earned by killing two guards who hold a colleague of yours prisoner. Once you liberate your ally, he disappears, rather than helping you fight your battle, however.


Control keys: redefinable
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair, Cursor, Fuller
Keyboard play: very responsive
Use of colour: rather bland
Graphics: excellent scrolling, and fast, especially with the amount of little mateys hacking about
Sound: great spot effects, but no tune
Skill levels: increasing difficulty
Screens: eight areas to fight through

Speaking as someone who's youth was spent toggling the joysticks of arcade games this is about the best arcade conversion your Spectrum is likely to see. The arcade machine had some of the most photographic graphics and brilliant stereo sound - naturally these have been lost in the transition from megabyte memory 68000 to 48K Z80. Nevertheless, the rest of the game has faithfully been incorporated - all eight areas have been copied with meticulous attention. All the hillocks, trees, bridges and everything are all there - the soldiers even attack from the same points! The highscore table is the same as the arcade one too, with its spinning letters and all that. The gameplay is brilliant, although playing with the keys is a bit of a pain - it all gets rather confusing at the end of an area. If you want a game for Christmas then look no further than this, it's ********* amazing!

Elite have done a brilliant job, converting this arcade game for the Spectrum. The action is fast and furious, and should present a lasting challenge to anyone addicted to shoot em ups. Plenty of practice will be needed to get far into the game - it's very easy to concentrate on wiping out the enemy but you've got to remember to dodge their bullets too! Horribly violent, and not much of an intellectual challenge - but great fun. Get it.

I must confess that I never expected this game to turn out quite as well as it did. I found the game very easy to get into and not so easy to leave alone. The movement of the characters is very effective, I particularly enjoyed the way the enemy troops jumped down from various heights and then set about trying to do you in. There are some graphics which might have been better left out - in particular to the jeep which looks more like a tape deck. All in all Commando is a great game for those into fast moving violence, it requires fine tuned reactions and a fair bit of daring.

Use of Computer: 86%
Graphics: 92%
Playability: 95%
Getting Started: 94%
Addictive Qualities: 95%
Value For Money: 92%
Overall: 94%

Summary: General Rating: A first-rate arcade conversion - very addictive indeed.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 58, Nov 1988   page(s) 110


This month see the inimitable PHIL KING scouring through the CRASH back issues for that crucial information on all the rereleases between now and mid-November. Take it away Phil...

Producer: Encore
Price: £1.99
Original Rating: 94%

Converted from a Capcom coin-op, Commando received much acclaim when it was originally released by Elite.

This is mindless violence at it s very best, with you taking on a whole army, Rambo-style. Your super-fit commando character is equipped with just a submachine gun and a box of grenades.

Nevertheless you aim to single-handedly destroy two large fortresses, each one preceded by four areas patrolled by swarms of hostile soldiers. These aren't the only danger to your life however, as the enemy also has a number of mortars and vehicles such as trucks and motorbikes.

All the soldiers are nicely animated as they jump down from hillocks, spraying bullets like there's no tomorrow. Although the landscape is rather barren - too many features would have cluttered up the play area - it's acceptable.

But what really makes Commando is not graphics or sound, but the all important playability it's positively oozing with addictive qualities. And like all really good games it doesn't show its age - if you missed this first time around, get it now!

Overall: 92%

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 2, Feb 1986   page(s) 28


If you've started to miss those mindless shoot'em ups that marked the start of Speccy game playing - you'll be dying to have a crack at Commando. Super Joe is the ultimate killing machine, his sole mission to wipe the enemy forces from the face of the earth. And he's armed only with his sub-machine gun and six hand grenades.

The game is an almost exact copy of Commando, the arcade hit. I say almost, as the programmers were forced to leave out some of the little touches from the original - like the chopper that drops our hero off at the start. The only thing you may miss is the sound - the taktaktaktak of the machine guns and the kerpow of the grenades.

Once on terra firma, the game's the same - it's kill, kill, kill all the way to the end. Then it's straight back to the beginning where the slaughter starts all over again.

There are no real rules - just get in there and blast away, slaying the stormtroopers, gunning the grenadiers and blowing up the enemy battalions. Your machine gun's got unlimited fire power so spray those bullets about like a man with no arms - and after an hour or so's keyboard bashing your arms'll ache so much, you'll wish you didn't have any either!

The graphics are really neat but you'll hardly have time to admire the scenery - hang around too long in one place and the enemy sends in the heavy mob.

Commando won't stretch your mind and if you've got a downer on mercenary militarism then give it a miss. But if you like your shoot'em ups simple, they don't come much simpler than this. Play it and blast away a few brain cells - yours and the enemies'!

Graphics: 8/10
Playability: 9/10
Value For Money: 9/10
Addictiveness: 9/10
Overall: 9/10

Award: Your Sinclair Hot Shot

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 91, Jul 1993   page(s) 30


Please welcome! From Dublin! Our new reviewing chap, Philip Kiernan! (Come on, don't be shy.)

0922 55852
Reviewer: Philip Kiernan

Ever fantasised about being dropped into some deadly jungle (hostile territory and all that) with nothing but a measly machine gun to protect you? Well look no further because here at YS we have up for grabs a limited edition AK47 and a one-way ticket to... hang on, my mistake. Look no further, because here's the long-awaited re-release of that famous and very old shoot-'em-up Commando. Er, hurrah.

Well, anyway, about the game. The plot is pretty simply and reads something along the lines of... (Sound of someone rustling papers on desk.) Blimey where has that inlay gone? Er, er, once upon a time there live a mild-mannered social worker from down South by the name of Steve. Minded his own business he did and expected others to treat him likewise. One day, while walking to the local shop to fetch a white sliced loaf, something quite extraordinary happened. A manhole had been left uncovered on the road, and due to a stroke of bad luck, our Steve went and stepped right into it. Down and down he went, right to the bottom at which point he hit his head on a rock. Next morning, he awoke to find himself wandering in the middle of a battlefield. Being a devout pacifist, a dilemma arose – should he raise his hands and surrender or should he proceed to annihilate every last one of the blighters closing in on him with this handy machine gun he seemed to have picked up from somewhere? After a moment's deliberation, he cast aside both his ethics and his hopes of ever seeing a white sliced loaf again, and started shooting.

Ow, my conscience! Well, the plot definitely involves shooting, anyway. Lots of it. Armed with that machine gun and a handful of grenades, your mission involves advancing as far up the vertically-scrolling landscape as is humanly possible. If you run low on grenades, you can steal the opposition's, which is a bit useful to say the least.

Should you reach the end of a level, you come slap bang up against a big gate, out of which pop zillions of newly-recruited troops with (squint) your name on their bullets! Blast these into the ground and it's on to the next level. No problem (Sarge).

The sheer addictiveness lies in finding out what the next stage holds – now it's laid out and what hazards there will be to overcome. These hazards get progressively more insanely dangerous, and the opposition grows less shy about whipping out their rocket launchers (Oo, as they say, -er Ed) These one-man mission larks appear impossible at times – makes you wish they'd included a two-player option. (They did, in the sort-of sequel, Duel, which was crap, so there you are. Ed) Oh well, ne'er mind.

Where were we? Oh yeah, addictiveness. Yes, it is addictive. In fact I think I'll just nip odd for another try. And I think I'll take along a representative sample of the studio audience. (Small party runs through desert landscape.) On our left we can see what's known as an army tank – nasty little number indeed. Don't get too close. (Ratatatatat.) Oh, and best be careful of those trucks cruising across our path. And what's that jumping out of them? Why, it's a lot of soldiers! (Ratatatatatat.) Pah, amateurs.

Watch out for the bloke with the bazooka. (Whizz, kablamm.) Cripes, that was close. (Part dives into ditch.) And now, for anyone interested, the bridge we're crawling under was erected in 1936 by a sheep farmer worried about his critters. What's that, sir? I don't wish to know about your critters. Now, on either side of us are the trenches. Note how the inhabitants crouch down as we approach. No cameras please, they don't like it. And here we have the mad motorcyclist, an unpredictable fellow. Pikes, dive for cover! (Party zigzags in panicked fashion.) Missiles, eh? Yikes, heads down. Flamethrowers, eh? Yikes, say yikes a lot. Tikes. (Ragged party stumbles through gate and collapses on grass.) An enjoyable romp if ever there was one.

So, all in all, I could sump up Commando as being a bit of a classic really. It's got everything fanatical shoot-'em-up folk could ever want and a bit more to boot, whatever that means. If you missed it last time around, well, here's your chance to join the war. Happy shooting, merry mayhem, and may the force be with you. Or something.

Overall: 78%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 37, Jan 1989   page(s) 123


Skinto deluxe? Then rifle thought this month's cheapies with Marcus berkmann - you might find a bargain!

Reviewer: Marcus Berkmann

Gor lumme, I never thought Id see this again. Commando is more than just a game these days, it's a whole format: all those vertically scrolling rushing-about shooting-things games always get compared to it. In fact it's three years since Commando took the charts by storm and changed forever our preconceptions of a good Speccy shoot em up. But it hasn't aged well. It's still fast, zappy and fun, but we've seen too many other vertically scrolling rushing-about shooting-things games in the past three years to be impressed by this all over again The graphics, while perfectly fine for 1985, now seem drab and unsophisticated, and the gameplay is just too samey.

Still. I'm sure that Commando still has its fans, and many of them will grab this chance to buy a cheapie copy of an old favourite game. Newcomers, though, will be disappointed - I'd say you're better off going for a "Commando-type" game than Commando itself. Amazing, but true.

Overall: 6/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 38, Feb 1989   page(s) 55


And if you weren't stunned by the four previous YS Megagames I chose, here's six more worth looking at!

Reviewer: David McCandless

Featured in the Berkmann budget round-up last month. Totally awesome and absorbing vertical shoot 'em up in the Rambo/mindless vein. First released: January '86.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 47, Feb 1986   page(s) 56

Publisher: Elite
Programmers: Keith Burkhill, Nigel Alderton
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K

You may not see yourself as the heroic type, capable of winning a war single-handed, but Elite's conversion of the popular arcade game Commando is likely to bring out the Rambo you didn't know you had inside you.

The game panders to your worst instincts, allowing you to zap away for all you're worth, amassing points the more people and things you blow up. You can disapprove as much as you like, but the game is great fun and you will probably find it hard to resist.

The storyline couldn't be simpler. You are the crack combat soldier Super Joe, sent in alone to defeat the advance rebel forces equipped only with your M60 machine gun and six hand grenades. Pushing relentlessly forwards, you must penetrate deep into hostile territory with the eventual aim of capturing the heart of the enemy fortress.

Luckily, your machine gun is perpetually self-loading, and there are plenty of hand grenades abandoned by enemy soldiers for you to be able to replenish your stock. In all other respects, however, the odds are heavily stacked against you.

Right from the start, the pace is hectic. Advancing steadily along the scrolling landscape, you are assailed on all sides by soldiers who come at you from behind sandbags, boulders and palm trees or leap down on you from the top of tufted hillocks. The bullets fly, the hand grenades and the dynamite rain down, and with all the explosions it is a bit like firework night. Any stray bullet or hand grenade can make you lose one of your five lives, and you must keep dodging and firing every inch of the way.

Having disposed of a first wave of attackers, you will come to a bridge with a narrow archway. Run through this, avoiding the hail of bombs coming over the wall. If you are still in business you'll arrive at a set of red gates, and here your troubles really begin. The gates slowly part to unleash a flood of enemy soldiers.

Sheltering behind the wall, firing continuously and lobbing a few grenades, you may just about be able to eliminate this horde down to the last man. A tickertape message then appears despatching you to area two, although by now you'd probably rather have a nice quiet tea break.

Area two features lorries, bunkers, huts and mobile typewriters - probably meant to be jeeps. All of these conceal more enemy soldiers and snipers, and if you get rid of them, you will eventually arrive at another set of gates releasing a second wave of attackers. If you manage to survive this onslaught without being overwhelmed, Rambo would surely be proud of you.

Daunting though the game is, Commando is also powerfully addictive. It has fast and furious action, plenty of excitement, and just the right blend of suspense in seeing how far you can get without losing all your lives, and of satisfaction in zapping moving targets. It also has smooth movement and lively, imaginative graphics.

As the screen scrolls from top to bottom, the scene is viewed in 3D from a height - but not directly overhead - so that men and machines are foreshortened. Our hero Super Joe scuttles about in a mean and menacing fashion, and although at first it is difficult to distinguish him from the enemy - he is black, the rest are mostly blue - you soon get the hang of identifying with the right chap.

The hillocks on the first level look a little odd, but palm trees, trucks and sand bags are realistically done, as is the bridge with its motor bike patrol on top. The enemy soldiers daringly fling themselves from the hilltops, arms outstretched in true commando style, and there are no distasteful death throes, either. The enemy shimmer and disintegrate when hit, while Super Joe just sinks straight into the ground.

One particularly nice touch is the high score table, which consists of military style letters, as seen stencilled on the sides of army vehicles. To spell out your name, you line up each letter in your sights and shoot it - a good enough idea in itself but these letters spin when they are hit like fairground targets. You can even set the whole lot spinning if you so fancy.

There are minor flaws in the graphics, such as ghosts which appear in front of the gates instead of behind them, or figures which glide backwards until they melt into a wall. A worse fault is the fact that the scoring is not explained, either on the inlay or on screen, and with everything happening so fast, there is no time to work out where the points are coming from. An element of strategic planning might have added interest to the game.

All in all, though, Commando is exciting, challenging and guaranteed to keep you playing until keyboard or joystick fatigue get you shipped out on home leave.

Overall: 5/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 51, Jan 1986   page(s) 17

MACHINE: Spectrum/C64/128/Amstrad/BBC
PRICE: £7.95

Go totally over the top as Super Joe, crack commando, takes on the world in an explosive rescue mission. Forget Rambo - old Joe's in a class of his own on this battlefield.

Basically what you have to do is reach the enemy fortress and rescue the prisoners held there. You have to be fast on your feet and quick on the trigger to defeat the massed forces of the enemy. They come at you on foot, shoot at you with mortars and bazookers, try and run you down with troop carriers and motorcycles. All decidedly unfriendly.

Still, you've got your trusty machine gun and a handful of grenades to help you get through. And you can pick up more grenades as you dash across the battlefields, under the tunnels and through enemy strongholds. We played the Spectrum version for this review - and the graphics, sound, animation and game play are all excellent. Better, we're afraid to say, than the Commodore version. We've yet to see the game on the Amstrad or Beeb.

The Spectrum Super Joe is a big, well animated character. The background and enemy soldiers are also well drawn. The choice of colours is good. Scrolling is smooth and colour clash problems are kept to a minimum.

Commando is really a pretty straightforward shoot-out. But the game is difficult enough to keep your interest and addictive enough to keep you coming back for more.

There's only one hint really worth giving for beginners - keep moving fast and keep blasting everything in sight! Spectrum owners shouldn't miss this Elite version of the classic arcade game.

Commodore owners have more of a choice with Alligata's Who Dares Wins II and the soon to be released Rambo game from Ocean.

You pays your money and takes your choice, Commandos' not a bad choice.

Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 7/10
Value: 9/10
Playability: 10/10

Award: C+VG Blitz Game

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Computer Issue 1, Jan 1986   page(s) 35

Spectrum & Commodore 64
£7.95 and £9.95

Bitter battling has not been confined to the game itself - Elite forced Alligata to make alterations to their excellent Who Dares Wins II in order to delay its production - and it would seem both games are superseded in complexity and variety by Ocean's Rambo.

What all the games have in common is an upward scrolling scenario depicting a feisty little soldier battling his way past the enemy, past gun emplacements, bridges all the way to the fortress.

This game is particularly striking on the Spectrum - the animation and detail are so good it makes Sir Clive's little box of tricks look like an arcade machine. The sound quality on the Commodore is excellent and adds to the whole atmosphere of generally frothing stupidly at the mouth that is essential to partaking in warlike activity.

Developed with the aid of Capcom to create the closest possible duplication of the original arcade game, Elite's Commando has the cachet of being the official version. A lot of people will think they are doing well if they get as far as the fortress wall, but beyond here there are troop carriers and tanks to defeat.

Graphics: 5/5
Sound: 4/5
Playability: 4/5
Value For Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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