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Commando for the 7800

Review by Scott Tirrell


Back in my younger days, I used to go roller skating. I'm from a town in Maine of a little over 20,000 people and, believe me, when the roller skating rink came to town, it was a BIG deal. Everybody used to go, actually. In that roller skating rink there was occassion when kids had to occupy themselves in ways other than skating. Maybe when the female skate was going on. Maybe to take a break. But there were times when I stopped rolling and took to the sideline. It was here that the lone arcade game of the rink, Commando, called to me.

I'd say I was hooked by Commando. "No, I will not couple skate!" Well, maybe it wasn't quite that bad! Looking back at it, I may have loved the game because it was the only one there. Maybe I felt a sense of accomplishment of learning how to become good at an arcade game while on skates with little balance (much tougher than walking while chewing gum, believe me). I'm willing to wager that I have fond memories of Commando because it was a fun game.

Commando also came out for the NES. I'd know this because my brother picked out a NES, not a 7800 like I wanted. Commando for the NES was a terrible game. When I became old enough to pick out my own game systems, I picked up a cheap 7800. It came with Commando. It was better than I imagined.

Commando was like an action movie. The lone soldier against a whole army. And you could see the bullets coming at you slowly. In other words, not very realistic. But as a kid growing up in the Eighties, a decade infested with action movies and figures and cartoons, Commando had a premise born of amazing insight.

Basically, you controlled a soldier running along a scrolling background. You viewed him from a bird's eye view and dispatched of soldiers and vehicles with your machine gun and grenades. It is a vertical shooter in different clothing basically.

If you liked Commando in the arcade, just buy this game. You owe it to yourself. If you are a big fan of the game and don't have a 7800, buy the system and this game. I am serious that it is that good. The graphics are very much like the arcade game. The colors are the same, unlike the Nintendo version, and the graphics don't seem to be scaled back at all. Oh, sure, there is a little distortion from the original, and the enemy soldiers blow apart when shot, but, overall, the conversion was very well done. The only disappointment to me was the inability to blow up trees with grenades. Ah well, there's enough senseless destruction. Its an eco-friendly game!

The sound is even decent with recognizable music and sound effects that almost rival the arcade. Of course, I'm vaguely remembering the arcade sounds and really loud 80s music was playing in the background at the time. Take this with a very large grain of salt. On the other hand, compared to most 7800 games, the sounds are glorious and I keep the television's volume on. Rare for a 7800 game. Very rare.

The gameplay is exactly like the arcade. The nice feature is that it allows for people to play on an easier level than the arcade as well as harder levels. There is almost no difference in gameplay and it seems as though the patterns of the enemies has even been brought along into this version. The 7800 version even offers some secret rooms where you can rescue hostages which was not possible in the arcade game. All of the levels are there at least up to the second mission. I never did beat the second mission in the arcade or on the 7800 so I'll have to defer the number of missions available to someone with much better refelexes than I. Anyone out there?

It is obvious that I love this game. It is a must have and almost a system seller for someone who loved the arcade game. I'm going to give this game unbelievable ratings but realize that it is one of my all-time favorites for any system.

Graphics: 10
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 10
Overall: 9.5

I just want to leave room for improvement for some other enterprising 7800 programmer ;-).

Trivia: The version of Commando was programmed for the Atari 7800 by whom and what game did they come out with for the Lynx?

Answer me at: stirrell@portland.com.


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