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'!
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.
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
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.
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.
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