Dateline : 27th November 2011


Don’t you just hate it when someone some how manages to destroy something that seems indestructible ? How hard could it be to ruin an arcade classic such as Commando ? RetroBear should start re-reading some of his old posts as this is a far more common occurance than he seems to think………


Hmmmm doesn't exactly fill me with confidence - you can tell a lot from a title screen

Certain games have certain impacts on gamers. Whether it is some breathtaking sequence, a memorable moment or just a “wow” factor about some aspect of the game, certain things stay with you forever. No matter what you do in the future, where you go and how you go about it, something will always find a way of dragging you back to that one moment. Games have that impact on people, as we remember those fine moments along with the ones we’d much rather forget.


Regrettably that leads me rather nicely on to the NES version of Commando. When it came out in 1985, Commando was lauded as a superb vertical, run and gun game with plenty of on screen action and furious game play to keep arcaders pumping in the 20p’s. There was nothing magical about any of Commando’s genetic make-up – it was adequate graphically and the main tune was OK. The gameplay was pitched nicely so you weren’t put off by a ridiculous difficulty curve whilst still managing to keep you coming back for more.


Depending on how bad the graphic flicker is this screen could be full of enemy soldiers or it's just two of them


Unfortunately somehow, somewhere the wheels fell off the home market conversion truck in a big way. What went from being a popular but run of the mill arcade game turned into a bit of a shambolic mess. All of a sudden the difficulty curve was turned right down meaning it was fairly simple to complete the game, and some of the levels were even missing. Now I know that the C64 version is by no means great, but  it did have one piece of computer game music widely regarded as a classic – almost the Bohemian Rhapsody of video game soundtracks – which was Rob Hubbard’s remix of the original arcade tune.


So am I rating the C64 version as a good game because of the music ? Well it’s above the rest on that count, but no way would it be recommended as an essential play. Neither is the NES version, which I have to admit is even worse than the C64 version. Firstly, although you do get the arcade tune it’s a toneless affair so already it’s off to a bad start. The gameplay is all but missing – I managed to walk through the entire first 2 levels only needing to fire any shots once I had reached the end compounds. So that’s 2 levels simply moving my man up the screen, dodging bullets. It is though the third aspect of this I cannot forgive. We know that both the NES and Master System were prone to sprite flicker and graphical glitches, but on Commando these rank as some of the worst I have seen. I know it’s meant to be a jungle game, but enemy soldiers just disappear whilst vehicles appear and vanish with amazing regularity. I actually got killed walking along when a van just dropped on top of me.


I hate slagging off games and it does appear I have been rather unfair on the NES during this 30 Days of Gaming, but I have been picking these at random. Commando, no matter what system it ended up on, was an absolute turd of a conversion. Have a look at the original arcade game and wonder how it ended up transferring as badly as it did. Then go and look at either Ikari Warriors or Rambo : First Blood Part Two and see exactly how it should have turned out.


Jus keep moving on up the screen - once past the enemy soliders they can't follow you or fire at you so it's just a case of dodging bullets


VERDICT : Break into the POW camp and put this back. Commando on the NES (and to be fair most systems) is a prime example of how not to convert a popular and playable arcade classic.


NOTES : Unfortunately neither Amazon or eBay have this item available


UP NEXT : 4-4-4, Hut, Hut – Madden NFL94 on the Mega Drive