Capcom’s run-and-gun arcade classic
Commando is not another thinly veiled rip-off of an American action movie by a 1980s game developer. It actually came out a few months before the famous Arnold Schwarzenegger film in 1985. Regardless, the game is just as much about mowing down bad dudes in the jungle with machine guns and grenades. This is the first game where you take on the role of developer Capcom’s recurring soldier character Joseph “Super Joe” Gibson, today tasked with saving hostages from one of the many fictional junta-run banana republics used as game settings at the time.
You scroll upwards from the bottom of the screen looking on from a top-down perspective. Super Joe can shoot in eight directions and toss grenades “up” towards the top of the screen all while having to dodge incoming enemy fire. At the end of each level you face waves of soldiers that come out of their fortifications to try to take you out. Their cowardly commanding officer will also run out at some point and can be shot for bonus points. After you complete all the stages the game will give you a quick ending message before a helicopter pickup seamlessly transitions you back to the start once again in that classic arcade style.
The visuals and music are fairly simplistic and without a lot of flourish, though you do get to see some cool bridges that enemy soldiers stop their motorcycles on so they can shoot down at you. Capcom’s signature smooth controls are the real star of the show and you’ll never feel you had a death because Super Joe suddenly went rogue on your button press and threw himself in the direction of enemy fire. Commando is a prequel of sorts to Capcom’s Bionic Commando franchise so fans of that will want to check out this game to at least see the origin of the top-down shooter sections in later Bionic games. Anyone else simply interested in quality arcade shooters will be just as entertained.