Company: Atari
Model #:
Sculptured Software
Year: 1989
Port of the 1986 Capcom Coin-Op


Port of the 1986 Capcom coin-op, Commando is and overhead shooter in the same vein as Ikari Warrior and Guerrilla War.  You play the role of a generic commando (whom we'll call Joe).  Joe is a one man army who must rescue his captured comrades while waging battle against an unknown rebel insurgency in an unnamed country.  Yeah... so the plot isn't all that deep, but then again who plays an action game for the plot anyway?


Commando is separated into eight different areas, each with its own distinct theme.  The game begins with Joe being dropped off by a helicopter with what can only be described as having the coolest blade animation ever seen in an 8-bit game.  After you've been dropped off in an area, you must battle your way through waves of various foes to the heavily fortified gate at the end.  These gates contain waves of enemy soldiers which must be eliminated before moving onto the next area.  Between each area you are treated to a cute little animation of a faceless Joe doing something macho.


As a one man army, Joe comes equipped with the standard gun with infinite ammo and several grenades that have a surprising limited blast radius.  As you make your way through each level you'll shoot countless generic soldiers  Some soldiers will run straight at you, while others will hide behind bunkers or in trenches (use grenades to get these guys).  Other enemies include rocket launcher soldiers, motorcycles which toss grenades at you from the bridge tops, deadly jeeps and trucks which will attempt to run you over, snipers hiding in guard towers, and of course those evil pill boxes...


As you travel each level, keep an eye out for a glowing knife or gun.  These power ups will give Joe even more superhuman powers than he already possesses.  The machine gun allows Joe to shoot bullets at a unbelievable rate, while the knife will allow Joe to kill enemies by running into them.  Other things to watch out for include secret underground passages which contain treasure and hostages, and enemy soldiers transporting hostages.  These guys can be shot for extra points.


The Atari XE version of Commando is very impressive, especially given how absolutely primitive the 8-bit hardware was in 1989.  The graphics are well detailed and varied, with lots of background trees and cliffs.  The colors are a bit drab, mostly consisting of tan and green, but this is a limitation of the 8-bit color pallet (just pretend this is operation Desert Storm).  The sound and music are very impressive, and wont get on your nerves until at least the third or fourth area.  If Commando had an Achilles heel it would have to be the controls.  Playing Commando with the standard Atari stick is a painful experience due to all the dodging and shooting Joe has to do.  Commando is one of those games that works best with an arcade joystick or a directional pad.  Playing the game through to the end with an Atari stick is guaranteed to be a grueling and painful endurance test.



Despite it's control issues (which in all honesty is not the games fault), Commando is an amazing piece of coding.  It is absolutely astounding that Sculptured Software was able to squeeze the amount of detail they did into this version.  The XE version of Commando stacks up quite favorably against the 7800 and NES versions of the game.  Unfortunately Commando arrived a little too late for the dying 8-bit line and never made it out the doors.  It's a shame as that Commando is one of the best 8-bit ports to ever grace the system.


Version Cart Text Description
?????? None Final Version


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