COMMANDO / Capcom / Arcade

Commando was conceived in 1986, apparently a time before programmers had figured out the intricacies of implementing strafing in player control. The enemies can do it, however, and that combined with their overwhelming numbers makes this one of the more difficult arcade games of the period, and likely too frustrating for most to bother with.

The game doesn't have any relationship with the Governor Ahhnold movie of the same name, outside of the general theme of lone muscleheads blowing the hell out of some questionably competent army in a Third World hellhole somewhere. Your avatar in this one, "Super" Joe, is sort of a little-known footnote in the world of gaming heroes, going on to star in obscure sequels in the arcade and also on the Xbox Live download service as of last year, but ended up being much better known as the damsel in distress in Bionic Commando (which lifted its overhead-view segments from the gameplay of this game.) Given what he's up against in this one, however, you can forgive the guy for getting captured.

The problem with the game is that it is stuck in a weird place between the style of an auto-scrolling shooter and a free-moving action game. You only fire in the direction you are pointing, so to dodge incoming shots and grenades (of which there is no short supply) you have to either run to one side or another or even double back, causing you to take your guns off your enemy until you can get reconfigured. This leads to all sorts of awkwardness and compromised shooting, and the game too often feels like you're wrestling with it rather than merging with it in a smooth flow.

One simple addition would have improved this game dramatically - a "fixed fire" button that allows you to hold your current aim direction while still moving freely. Without it, this game remains a fairly well put together but turgid action game that has aged poorly.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video