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Commando

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Released: 1986

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Commodore 16/Plus4

Publisher: Elite

Developer: Richard Ikin / Ray Tredoux

Submitted by: Barry Flowers

Most people are familiar with the coin-op. Super Joe (a strange rank for a soldier) has been thrown deep inside enemy german territory, I suspect it's somewhere south outside of Europe.

The aim of the game is to kill all the enemy soldiers on each of the 5 levels to complete the mission. There's not much else to it about the plot, so onto the gameplay.

The game starts off with an OK title screen which has the large Commando logo splashed along the top. Nice enough start. OK, click fire to begin.

Super Joe starts off at the bottom of the screen and finds himself being immediately shot at by enemies in trenches.

"Best dispose of them quick" Joe mutters.
"Hmm, where's my grenades?" Joe then wonders.

"Darn, I forgot to bring them with me. I hope the jerries have a few lying around" (which they don't).

Well OK, Joe just has a tommy gun which is fine. Best get busy then Joe.

Unfortunately for Joe though, he cannot walk diagonal.

"It's an old war wound!"

Yes OK Joe, I think I'll leave out the 'Super' here from now on in bud.

It then suddenly dawns on the player that the game doesn't scroll like the other versions. It's 5 short single screen levels only.

OK, trenches cleared, onto the next.

Level 2 – Another trench, a river with a bridge to cross and enemies which move around with rocket launchers.

"Oh great. I can't stay down here like a sitting duck!" ponders Joe. So he makes a mad dash to the top of the screen losing a life in the process.

"Wait, I'm up here yet they're still firing downwards?" Joe suddenly realises.

Yes Joe, that's because they're too stupid to think about firing upwards. Just be a coward and shoot 'em in the backs boy.

Level 3 – Another river and bridge with 2 more trenches beyond it. Joe dispatches them with ease when he quickly works out the attack pattern.

Level 4 – Just 5 waves of 3 gormless enemies with rocket launchers each on an obstacless screen to kill. Keep above them Joe.

Level 5 – The main bunker. 2 windows each with a german to dispatch plus 3 rocket launching nazis to dispose of. Done.

Then an all too quick congrats message flickers by before the game loops over again, and again, and again.

OK so that's the game, and a very short game it is. With all it's omissions and faults though this is actually a pretty decent blast providing you don't associate it with the arcade original.

The graphics themselves are nice and chunky with a fair decent use of colour which does give a fairly warm feel to the coin-op itself.

There are only 2 spot sound effects, Joe's gunfire which is fairly standard fare and a girly cry when an enemy gets hit.

The game itself is fairly easy to clock, so expect to go a few rounds with this before you finally cash in your commando chips. There's some lastability here for hi-scores though.

So..as arcade conversions goes, out of ten I'd give this a three as it's a poor implementation of the original. As a game in it's own right though, I'll be fair and give this a four. It's alright but it should've been better.

You can watch the full longplay video HERE!

Commando

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Released: 1986

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Commodore 64

Developer: Elite

Submitted by: Matthew Aston

I used to love Commando on my Commodore 64 as a kid. Looking at it now it doesn’t seem to have aged all that well. It’s supposed to be a conversion of the arcade hit but, it only contains three levels out of the arcade original’s eight. However, saying that I was so rubbish at it as a kid I never got past level 2, so I wasn’t missing much was I!

The musical score was fantastic though. It was produced by the acclaimed C64 musician Rob Hubbard. Apparently (according to Wikipedia) he had the music all done within 12 hours, quite a feat!

Like the arcade machine, you take the role of a heavily armed Commando called Super Joe (well we didn’t actually know him as that at the time). Your task is to infiltrate enemy lines, kill as many baddies as possible, and brake through the three gatehouses or fortresses to complete the game.

Game play is pretty identical to the arcade game. Super Joe can fire his machine gun in eight directions but can only throw hand grenades vertically regardless of which way he is facing. His gun has unlimited ammo but he initially only has a limited supply of grenades, more must be collected along the way.
The enemy soldiers appear from both sides of the screen or from bunkers and trucks. Some soldiers can be found shooting behind sandbags or inside trenches, these can only be killed with grenades. There are also soldiers manning mortars, rocket troopers and motorbikes to contend with. Enemy soldiers only fire single shots, but with so many on the screen they can be difficult to avoid.

Graphically the game doesn’t look too bad for an early C64 title. It scrolls fine, but it does have some bugs, notably the sprites are prone to epileptic attacks and sometimes disappear and then reappear again. Still the game loads all in one go, which is not surprising considering its length. I just think Elite could have done a lot more with this conversion.

Commando

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Released: 1985

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Elite

Developer: Keith Burkhill / Nigel Alderton

Submitted by: Crispian Driver

I remember at the time, this superb Spectrum arcade conversion came out within close proximity of the cheesey Arnie film of the same name, this is of course purely coincidental, as it had been going down a storm in the arcades before it's home computer release. Had it been a released in conjunction with the film, it would of been one of the best movie tie-ins ever made, especially if you remember the end of the film where Arnie takes on swarms of baddies all by himself.

So, you are Super Joe a crack Commando sent all by himself to take down two enemy fortresses. To get to these two fortresses, you have to go through four smaller fortresses for each one. Of course, you can't just walk in and take the fortresses, they have loads of enemy soldiers and vehicles out to stop you. All you have is your trusty M60 (with infinite ammo) and six hand grenades, the grenades can be replenished by picking up boxes found en route.

The game plays from an almost birds eye view and the real name of the game is to keep moving, the enemies pour out from caves, cliff tops, lorries and the fortresses, you can shoot the enemies but you can also run past them, once out the screen, most the time they won't bother you again. If you die, you start at a sort of checkpoint near to where you died. Vehicles in the game such as lorries, motorcycles and jeeps can be avoided or blown up with a hand grenade. Once you reach a fortress door, it opens and men come flooding out, you have to kill all these men, then you can go running through to the next area. The game had a nice touch, where if you got down to the last man at the fortress bit and he shot you, as long as you shot him at the same time, you limped through injured to the next stage instead of dying.

The game has nice colour use, spot sound effects and plays superbly, it's best played with a joystick (i was never great with diagonal controls on a keyboard). It is a pretty tough game, you need a lot of luck aswell as quick hands.

This may not be the best version of Commando, but it is certainly my personal favourite. A very, very good home computer version of a classic coin-op.