This is a genre of game I rarely play. Whether it's in the arcade or on home console, I have often avoided the run and gun type shooters of the 8 and 16 bit era. Commando tells me that I wasn't really missing much. I had fun while playing, but the game is not without its many flaws. Most notably, the sprite limitations of the NES. Enemies, power ups, and even prisoners of war will seemingly vanish into thin air as even more sprites flood the screen. Bullets are sprayed everywhere effectively making this a game of dodgeball than shooting. And lastly, the gameplay loop isn't all that interesting. You'll continue to meet the same kind of foes over and over again (as they continue to vanish) while you'll never have access to anything more than a gun and a grenade. You can't even swim so why exactly did the U.S Army send you to take on a militia?
The worst part of all of this is that I found the game easiest when you just don't participate. Continue strafing through the bullets and running past everyone and you'll continue to move on with ease.
There is not too much particularly special about this game, it’s pretty much your run of the mill NES shoot em up. It’s unfortunate that there is no kind of strafing mechanic because turning and shooting is not ideal with the NES controller, and sometimes the game can’t seem to perfectly handle everything that’s happening on screen, leading to some flickering. Now that the negative is out of the way, I have to say that for some reason I actually find this game pretty fun. It’s a basic challenge without too much depth, but I think it delivers action pretty well and it’s fun to compete with a friend. No, I don’t think it’s anywhere near essential, but it was a fun pick up and play game.
In Commando, you play as the last remaining member of the United States Army. Literally everyone else besides your helicopter pilot is being held as a prisoner of war. Victory sounds like a stretch, right? Now imagine, as the last active military member of your country, you are also constrained to a neck brace.
I value the idea of bucking convention, but when that convention is the idea of strafing, I have some issues with it. If you need to move right, you're going to shoot right. You may not move right, and shoot forward. This is such hindrance on the player's quality of life that the entire control scheme should have been scrapped in pre-production. Nothing much else to say about this game other than I appreciate that the player character takes a break between levels to smoke a cig. Smoking is cool and fun.