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Commando (128k version)
ZX Spectrum
Keith Burkhill & Nigel Alderton
I have to review this game. It's still my favorite 2D vertical-scroller army shoot-em-up on the Spectrum.

I remember when the fair came I "lost" lots of coins on this terrific game. The arcade version was difficult with its frantic action, for me, compared to 1942. You needed quick reactions and had to move on. No time no waste or it was game over in no time.

The Spectrum version keeps this frantic action. From the start on you, Super Joe, are being attacked by a well balanced endless stream of soldiers. Some soldiers keep chasing you so a quick turn to put a bullet in them will eliminate them. Be careful, though, to attack soldiers frontally. They have a nasty habit to shoot a final bullet when you think it's safe. But overall their AI is low.

You commence in Area 1, with your M60 machine gun and some grenades with limited supply. These can be replenished by taking the red "bricks". You have to battle your way to the final Area. There's no end of level boss so that's a bit of a let down, but I guess this was also the case for the arcade version. You just start all over with more and faster enemy soldiers.

All graphics are in, except for the helicopter intro and in-between screens. All backgrounds and sprites have one colour. But everything is very recognisable. The most important thing for this kind of games is the bullet detection and visibility. And it's great. There's no worry that you don't see bullets coming.

Although there's the occasional colour clash and slow down it doesn't affect gameplay much. Better shoot some more soldiers to keep the speed up. And thanks to the extra life awarded every 10.000 points you can get far into the game in no time.

I prefer to play this game with the keyboard. The controls are very responsive, same as with the joystick. With the joystick you have to press the fire button for a while to launch a grenade.

I still think the Spectrum version is the best 8-bit version. The C64 version, although great sound, was a real let down (but was programmed in a too-tight schedule, I read).

A Christmas hit in 1985.

Sequels: Duet (aka Commando '87), also from Elite, was an awful unofficial follow up to Commando, released in 1987. The official follow up "Mercs" came out 5 years later and is much better.

Your Sinclair:
RATING: 9/10

"A first-rate arcade conversion - very addictive indeed"

Did you know: Commando was released in Germany as Space Aliens (with, yes, aliens replacing the German look-a-like soldiers).

Run away! It's green Fred!!

The cool high score entry screen

Go on ... go in ... don't be scared ...

Damn! These poolside pests are getting worse ...

Graphics: 85%

Sound: 70%

Gameplay: 92%

Overall: 83%
Nice loading screen and clean intro screen. Smooth scrolling with the occasional slow down. Some colour clash. Keep away from this if you don't like yellow! I have the original 48k game. The sounds were a bit of of a let down after playing the arcade version. So after getting the 128k version from the net I expected the great machine gun sound but the AY chip adds nothing to the in-game sound department. Only the title song is beefed up and plays along when you play the game. A shame. This is a great 2D vertical shooter. Frantic action with good graphics and a good old score table keeps you coming back. A bit easy though. If you like games aka 1942 or Gunsmoke and are looking for a simple but fun blast-o-rama, look no further, this is your cup of tea.

R E C O M M E N D E D   A L T E R N A T I V E S

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