|Source // Wikipedia|
I don't believe I've ever come across Commando itself, but I'm sure I've seen and played my fair share of games that pay homage to it (or straight up use the mechanics themselves).
Running and gunning are the themes of the day as you take control of Super Joe, tasked with lone wolfing it through eight stages of all out war.
Let's see how far we get.
Not very far at all.
I'm playing the NES port of Commando, which dumbs down the graphics and includes a few extra weapons and upgrades, but otherwise provides the same experience - an awful lot of guys firing at you, and only one of you firing back at them.
Your machine gun will shoot wherever you're pointing, and you've got a handful of grenades which you can use to get rid of enemies that are hiding behind cover, ducking in trenches or operating mortars and the like. These grenades are always thrown up the screen a little way, regardless of which direction you're facing, leading to absolute chaos.
The enemy forces are almost relentless, and I found myself swamped on many occasions, essentially trapping myself into a corner. Serves me right for walking and aiming in a run and gun title, I guess. Your foes trap themselves in corners just as often, and no bullets will pass through a palm tree no matter how much you think 'surely that must have hit him'.
A poor workman blames his tools, so when stuck with the D-Pad of an Xbox 360 controller, and without the necessary motivation to go to the other side of the room, grab a USB SNES controller and set that up, I could do only one thing - suck it up and get good.
I couldn't though. The bullets may be some of the slowest in video game history, the splash damage from the grenades may be only slightly wider than your target, but I still found myself making the same mistakes again and again. It's hectic, and moreso when it's you who puts yourself in that position.
Persist with it though, and you'll travel from the jungles through to more urban theatres of war - so YouTube told me. Each stage ends with a kill-everything-you-see-to-progress section, but other than that you can run through the stages to your hearts content, killing only what you need and avoiding the rest.
When played by any competent, whizzing through the stages makes Super Joe and Commando look like a parody of John Rambo, so if that's your thing then it could be the game for you.
You could be a bit cynical and say that all Commando does is take a space shooter and slap a different skin on it, but I don't think that's really the case. While you're nudged forward insofar as you're unable to move backwards too far, you do have free reign of movement - much more so than a side-to-side, slightly up and down space shooter.
A space shooter mixed with a twin stick shooter like Robotron 2084? Perhaps. Arguing this much about it is going too far though, because whatever you define Commando as, it's not as easy as you might be lead to believe, but it's well worth a try.
It's been ported to a fair few systems, and while you can never quite beat the look of a classic arcade title, you can at least play it in your own home. Somehow. You'll find a way.
The original Japanese title for Commando translates to 'Wolf of the Battlefield'.
Commando, developed by Capcom, first released in 1985.
Version played: NES, 1986, via emulation.
Version watched: Arcade, 1985 (World of Longplays)