Company: Atari
Model #:
Dwain Skinner
Year: 1989
One of only two 7800 games with a built in Pokey sound chip


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.  


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 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 7800 version of Commando is very impressive, and about on par with the NES version of the game (a major plus for the 7800).  Commando is also one of only two Atari 7800 games to have a Pokey chip built into the cartridge for enhanced sound and music.  Unfortunately unlike Ballblazer (the other game to use a Pokey), Commando only makes minimal use of the chip for the background music.  In fact, many people play Commando on emulators without ever knowing that there are missing sounds and music.



Despite its simplistic nature, Commando is one of the better games for the Atari 7800.  It's unknown how they did it, but Atari finally managed to license a semi-popular arcade game instead of the same warmed over arcade "classics".  Unfortunately quality arcade ports like Commando were in the minority on the 7800, and ultimately couldn't save the dying system.


Version Cart Text Description
4/29/88   Early game demo


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