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SCORES EXPLAINED:

5.0 Perfect
4.5 Excellent
4.0 Very Good
3.5 Good
3.0 Fair
2.5 Weak
2.0 Poor
1.5 Bad
1.0 Terrible
0.5 Atrocious
0.0 Your Mom


Funkmaster V Reviews


7800 Rank: 5th Best Official Release

Genre: Action & Adventure/ Multi Directional Shooter

Awards:
Run Away! Run Away! Pros: Several levels of action/ POW locales included
Cons: Character sprites are tiny
Time Out, Guys! Something's In My Eye!!!


Overview: According to several classic video game enthusiasts and addicts, Commando is heralded as one of the best games on the system. But, to be painfully honest, Commando is really good anywhere. I guess that signifies a great game...
its hard to screw up. In Commando, you control a lone solider as he infiltrates various enemy camps, armed with a machine gun and hand grenades, for the sole purpose of rescuing hostages and inflicting some hurt. It's very popular (like your mom before she met your dad).

Graphics: Commando looks very good compared to its arcade daddy. The color schemes are similar, and so is the terrain. The only big difference is the size of the characters. The 7800's combatants are smaller and not as detailed as the arcade version's, but they are not too bad. The different levels and backgrounds are impressive, as you may encounter air strips, mud huts, secret caverns, pill boxes, jungles, houses, deserts, rivers, bridges, and strongholds. Even the shot of the Commando eating grub, shaving or smoking a cigarette after he defeats a "duty" is a nice touch. The only real weakness in the visual department is the lack of explosions when you blow up a motorcycle, jeep, or truck. The vanquished enemy vehicle just disappears...which really is lack luster, especially in a game where so much was done well.

Sound: This cart is one of the few titles on the system that uses the very nice Pokey audio chip from the 5200 line of games. So with the best sounding cart on the system, Ballblazer, being a Pokey chip game, Commando should have superior sound as well, right? Well, yes and no. The main audio loop of the game is a decent and somewhat catchy military style ditty. Although one of the better loops on the system, it is not nearly as good as Ballblazer's nifty tune. Most sound effects are good, but some of the weak ones would include the wimpy explosion, the wimpy gunfire, and the wimpy noise of a fallen foe. These are not horrible, but they could have sounded a little more macho. The worst effects on the game are probably the opening helicopter's chopper blades. It sounds like a drunk dude imitating Donald Duck.

Gameplay: The game basically features your character against the world, and surprisingly, this is not as hard as one might think. For most of the difficulty levels, the enemy army's gunfire is slow and has terrible range. The enemy army must have also recruited their troops from the Texas School for the Blind. These meandering foes look more like they are on an Easter egg hunt than they are involved in a firefight. So this kinda makes the game feel like Food Fight... there's a bunch of "shucking and jiving."

The Commando has a gun with unlimited ammo, which is nice, and this set up can be upgraded to a machine gun on every level. Also, you can pick up a knife that can be automatically used to kill enemies that touch the hero. He also has a limited supply of grenades, which are very effective to cars, motors, snipers and people behind barricades, in fox holes, or in water. They can also be used to open secret passageways in bridges and houses that horde POWs. This is a great feature in the game, as trying to find all 8 secret prisons make the game playable time and time again. Each level ends with a big battle at a stronghold, which sounds more intimidating than it actually is. These fools run out like chickens with their heads cut off, and they are easily expendable. Long live Rambo. The only weakness in the gameplay department is the slow down that occurs when tons of action is going on. This is a rare occurrence, but it does happen.

Interpretation: This game stretches the 7800 to the limits and it does the Commando name proud. All secret prisons included is a nice surprise, and the only big difference in the game are the character models, and that can be easily overlooked.

Value: The game is amazingly fun because of a few nice touches: 1) The game is incredibly easy to pick up and play. 2) The levels in the game are deep and varied. 3) The secret prisons are challenging to find and include unique obstacles. The game is great, and it is fun to play even by today's standards. Though there is no last level, or "Final boss", the game is simply addictive because it is so fun. A dual two player mode could have made this game even better, but then it would be stepping on Ikari Warrior's shoes at that point.

Overall: Commando is a commie wasting blast. The Atari 7800 had a good library of scrolling shooters, but this may be the best. The game's only weaknesses may be the wimpy graphics and a few lame sound effects...but other than that this game is nearly flawless. A debate exists on which game between Commando and Ikari Warriors is the best military shoot 'em up on the system. Ikari Warriors has simultaneous two player gameplay and a beatable boss, but I would argue that Commando's gameplay and graphics are better. It doesn't matter... buy them both: you are in a win-win situation either way.



Other Reviews:
CV's Atari 7800 Panoramic Froo-Froo: 4.5 out of 5.0 (Excellent)
The Atari Times: 9 out of 10
Video Game Critic: B+
Jose Q's Emuviews: 8.3 out of 10


Additional Info: I would like to take this time to thank Mitch Orman, owner of The Atari 7800 Page for allowing the use of his screenshots for this review.