Atari 7800

Review by Matt Paprocki

Data East


Graphics: 8

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 6

Overall: 6

Ported to plenty of systems over the years, "Commando" was one of those arcade staples after the crash in '84. You had to see at least one cabinet somewhere in your town if you visited the arcade scene. On the 7800, there are issues that prevent the game from being as enjoyable as it is elsewhere, but it's still not a terrible shooter regardless of how it's handled.

Two players can alternate inside the war zone, tearing through troops with machine guns and grenades. Power-ups are meager and pressure resides solely with the player to survive. Enemies come from all sides, in vehicles, in bunkers, and with numbers. It's enough for even a child to realize the odds are not in their favor.

Then again, maybe they are. Enemy forces are, well, stupid. The entire first level can be beat by simply walking straight (only turning to avoid some sandbags), only firing a shot when the doors open for the finish. The hardware doesn't allow for masses of little gray army men to gang up on the player and they rarely fire a bullet. The only real challenge comes from the rather large range of a grenade explosion and vehicles that have a nasty habit of running the player down without mercy.

Still, it's nice to have the advantage of smarts (at least you hope yours are to an advantage). You always feel like you're making progress and lack of flicker and slowdown is a nice change of pace. When killed, the game sends players back to a very respectable position. The basic mechanics are strong enough to carry the game, assuming the offbeat "Rambo" genre is your thing.

Graphically, this is a reasonable facsimile of the arcade game. Background objects are easy to make out, though their numbers have dwindled quite a bit. The pure white bullets are easy to make out against the very brown backgrounds. Music is meatier than the NES version. It's definitely more accurate to the arcade version, though the "new life" theme is missing. It's easy to get ready for the coming stage with music like this.

If you want the arcade game at home, with its enemies attacking in huge masses, this isn't the version to play. In fact, none of them are. The numbers tossed at the player in that classic cabinet are almost impossible to replicate at home. This version does what it can with the material and not much else.


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Last updated: Friday, March 10, 2006 11:28 AM