Commando / Elite 1985
Screenshots: play/stop

Elite Systems became known for its plethora of arcade and film tie-ins, including this conversion from Japan Capsule Computer's (CapCom) Commando.

The scenario is simple: You control Super Joe, a tough-as-they-come commando, and you have to fight through three levels of enemy terrain, each level finishing off with a fortress.

Along the way are soldiers who are hell-bent in stopping you, and you have to shoot them and avoid the bullets that they fire at you. You also have a limited supply of grenades, that can be used to blow up soldiers who are behind walls or are hiding in ditches. Boxes of grenades are sparingly found along the way, which you can collect. These grenades can also be used to blow up turrets and towers with soldiers in them. The aforementioned ditches have to be avoided as well: falling into one loses one of your three initial lives. There are also jeeps and motocycles, which are indestructable and should be avoided.

The game is presented as a vertically-scrolling shoot'em up. You are able to move Super Joe around the lower half of the screen; pushing up past the halfway mark scrolls the screen down, getting further into the game.

At the end of a level, you reach a fortress where you are swamped with enemy soldiers. Once all of these are shot you progress to the next level. Completing the fortress on Level 3 takes you back to Level 1 with more aggresive soldiers.

You start with three lives and six grenades, and an extra life is given every 10,000 points.

There was also a bootleg version of this game called Space Invasion, which Elite also released. I believe this was released in some parts of Europe where the Commando scenario was deemed too delicate.

Elite's conversion of the arcade can't technically be called a straight conversion as such. Only three of the arcade's eight levels have been ported across, for a start. The arcade version also had its monitor rotated 90 degrees, so it was vertically longer than wide, but the C64 version follows the normal TV ratio of 4:3. Colours are also different from the original.

The C64 version, however, is a good straightforward shoot'em up. Graphics are quite good, with adequate representations of soldiers, turrets, ditches and other background graphics. However, the sprite multiplexing routine often gets over-taxed, and sprite tearing occurs along with game slowdown. The music, by Rob Hubbard, is an excellent rocked-up version from elements of the arcade game, that fits the busy aspect of the game perfectly. Spot sound effects are also played for important info (picking up grenades, extra life, etc).

It could have been better, but then again, it could have been a lot worse. Elite's C64 conversion of Commando might have stalwart fans of the arcade version feeling disappointed, but delivers as a simple no-brainer shoot'em up.

Reviewed by Boz.

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