Commando (video game)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Designer(s)Tokuro Fujiwara
Composer(s)Tamayo Kawamoto
Platform(s)Arcade, Nintendo Entertainment System, Atari 2600, Intellivision, Atari 7800, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, Amiga, Atari ST, ZX Spectrum, MSX, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, Virtual Console, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre(s)Run and gun

Commando, released as Senjō no Ōkami (Japanese: 戦場の狼, "Wolf of the Battlefield") in Japan, is a vertically scrolling run and gun video game released by Capcom for arcades in 1985. The game was designed by Tokuro Fujiwara. It was distributed in North America by Data East, and in Europe by several companies including Capcom, Deith Leisure and Sega, S.A. SONIC. Versions were released for various home computers and video game consoles. It is unrelated to the 1985 film of the same name, which was released six months after the game.

Commando was a critical and commercial success, becoming one of the highest-grossing arcade video games of 1985 and one of the best-selling home video games of 1986. It was highly influential, spawning numerous clones following its release, while popularizing the run-and-gun shooter genre. Its influence can be seen in many later shooter games, especially those released during the late 1980s to early 1990s.

The game later appeared on Capcom Classics Collection, Activision Anthology, and on the Wii Virtual Console Arcade, as well as Capcom Arcade Cabinet for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A sequel, Mercs, was released in 1989.


In-game screenshot

The player takes control of a soldier named Super Joe,[7] who starts by being dropped off in a jungle by a helicopter, and has to fight his way out singlehandedly, fending off a massive assault of enemy soldiers.

Super Joe is armed with an assault rifle (which has unlimited ammunition) as well as a limited supply of hand grenades. While Joe can fire his gun in any of the eight directions that he faces, his grenades can only be thrown vertically towards the top of the screen, irrespective of the direction Joe is facing. Unlike his assault rifle bullets, grenades can be thrown to clear obstacles, and explosions from well-placed grenades can kill several enemies at once.

At the end of each level, the screen stops, and the player must fight several soldiers streaming from a gate or fortress. They are ordered out by a cowardly officer, who immediately runs away, although shooting him in the back awards the player bonus points. Along the way, one can attempt to free prisoners of war as they are transported across the screen by the enemy.

Some home console ports of the game contain hidden underground shelters that can only be accessed with grenades. Inside these shelters are prisoners for the player to rescue. Some of these ports also include items. Among the items included in the NES version are a more powerful machine gun upgrade, an unlimited grenade upgrade, and "glasses" to let the player view all the hidden bunkers. The player will lose these upgrades after losing a life.

Extra lives are given at 10,000 points, and per 50,000 scored up to 960,000; thereafter, no more lives. Play continues to the last Super Joe dead, which ends the game.

The arcade version contains eight unique levels. The NES version contains only four unique level designs, but repeats those levels with minor changes and increasing difficulty to create a total of sixteen levels.


The game was developed by Capcom, where it was designed by Tokuro Fujiwara. He was concurrently leading the development of both Commando and Ghosts 'n Goblins at the same time. Both games sold well for Capcom upon release.[8]


A home version of the game developed by Capcom was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Activision released a port of the game for the Atari 2600 and INTV released a port for the Intellivision, also an Atari 7800 version by Sculptured Software was released in 1989.

Elite released versions for many home computers. They released the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro and Amstrad CPC versions in November 1985.[9] The BBC Micro and Acorn Electron versions were developed under contract by Catalyst Coders, while Elite developed the Amiga, Atari ST, Acorn Electron, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64 versions.

The Commodore 64 port's theme, a more complex and extended version of the arcade music, was created in less than 12 hours by Rob Hubbard, "[I] started working on it late at night, and worked on it through the night. I took one listen to the original arcade version and started working on the C64 version. [...] By the time everyone arrived at 8:00 in the morning, I had loaded the main tune on every C64 in the building! I got my cheque and was on a train home by 10:00".

The arcade version was re-released on the Virtual Console as Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando in Japan on October 5, 2010, in North America on December 6, 2010, and in the PAL region on December 17, 2010.

Unreleased versions[edit]

A version for Atari 8-bit computers was created by Sculptured Software in 1989, intended to be released by Atari Corporation for the XEGS. However, although the game appeared in Atari catalogs of the time,[10][11] it never reached the market in spite of being completed. In the 2000s the game's prototype cartridge was found.[12]



In Japan, Game Machine listed Senjō no Ōkami on their June 1, 1985 issue as being the most-popular arcade game for the previous two weeks.[25] In the United States, it had topped the American RePlay chart for upright arcade cabinets by November 1985.[26] In the United Kingdom, it became one of the top-grossing arcade games in London West End test locations, leading to orders for thousands of units in the UK alone,[19] where it became a major hit.[27] Commando similarly became a major hit across Europe.[28] It had become the world's top arcade game at the time.[9][29] Commando sold more than 15,000 arcade PCB units by June 1985.[30]

Commando ended the year as the highest-grossing arcade game of 1985 in the United Kingdom, while also outperforming Track & Field, the UK's highest-grossing arcade game of 1984.[31] In the United States, it was one of the top three highest-grossing arcade video games of 1985, along with fellow Data East releases Karate Champ and Kung-Fu Master.[32]

Mike Roberts of Computer Gamer called it "a very exciting game" and said "the quality of animation and graphics is superb."[19] Computer and Video Games praised the fast-paced gameplay, smooth movement, rousing music jingle, and cartoon-style graphics, while criticizing the lack of color in the graphics.[4] Cash Box magazine said it "is fierce and strategic, the graphics realistic and the fire power explosive" which makes it "an exciting and challenging play experience."[18]


The home computer ports of Commando topped the UK software sales charts in December 1985,[33] becoming the seventh best-selling game of 1985 in the UK.[34] It topped the charts again in January 1986,[35] and went on to become one of the top three best-selling games of 1986 in the UK.[36] In the United States, the home computer versions received two Gold Awards from the Software Publishers Association in 1987 for more than 200,000 units sold in the region.[37]

The NES version released in 1986 sold 1.14 million copies worldwide.[38]

New Straits Times reviewed the BBC Micro, Amstroid CPC, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum versions in January 1986, calling it a "must-have" war simulation "to end all war simulation games" with "fast and furious" action "bordering on the impossible."[20] Computer Gaming World said in 1988 that "few cartridges can equal [Commando]'s non-stop action" on the NES.[16] TouchArcade reviewed the iOS version in 2017 and gave it a score of 2.5 out of 5 stars.[17]

NintendoLife wrote, "Commando might be one of the few examples of the stripped-down ports actually being stronger than the original game. These later ports added powerups, better music and depth to the gameplay that are all sadly lacking in the arcade original."[39]


Computer Gamer magazine's Game of the Year Awards gave the original arcade version of Commando the award for best coin-op game of the year, beating Paperboy and Marble Madness.[22] After being ported to home computers, Commando was voted best arcade-style game of the year at the 1986 Golden Joystick Awards,[23] and won the award for best shoot 'em up game of the year according to readers of Crash magazine.[24] In 1996, GamesMaster rated the game 57th on their "Top 100 Games of All Time."[40]



Commando was a highly influential game, popularizing the run-and-gun shooter genre along with military shooter themes. It led to run-and-gun games becoming the dominant style of shoot 'em up during the late 1980s to early 1990s, when Your Sinclair called Commando "the great grand-daddy of the modern shoot 'em up" genre.[41] It has also been credited as the "product that shot" Capcom to "8-bit silicon stardom" in 1985, "closely followed by" Ghosts 'n Goblins.[42]

Commando spawned numerous clones following its release.[43][8][44] Home computer clones and imitators released later the same year include Who Dares Wins[28] and Rambo.[45] The most successful Commando imitator was SNK's arcade hit Ikari Warriors (1986), which spawned two sequels.[8][44] The run-and-gun shooter format of Commando was also adapted into a side-scrolling format by Konami's Green Beret (Rush'n Attack) later the same year.[46]

Sequels and successors[edit]

Commando was followed by a sequel titled Mercs in 1989, which was known as Senjō no Ōkami II in Japan. However, it was not as successful as Commando or Ikari Warriors. Tokuro Fujiwara was disappointed that he did not develop a Commando sequel sooner, as the arcade market already had numerous Commando imitators by the time Mercs released.[8][44] A second sequel, Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 was released as a downloadable title for the Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network in 2008.

Outside Japan, the arcade version of Bionic Commando was marketed as a sequel to Commando and the main character, a nameless soldier in the game, is identified as "Super Joe" in an American brochure for the game. Super Joe would appear as an actual supporting character in the later versions of Bionic Commando for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy, as well as in Bionic Commando: Elite Forces. In the 2009 version of Bionic Commando for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, the character of Super Joe is identified as Joseph Gibson, one of the three player characters in Mercs.

The game Duet by Elite Systems Ltd was also called first "Commando '86" then "Commando '87".[47]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Compasio, Camille (June 8, 1985). "Around The Route" (PDF). Cash Box. pp. 43–4.
  2. ^ "Commando (Registration Number PA0000246461)". United States Copyright Office. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  3. ^ "ゲームで見るカプコンの歴史". Gamest (in Japanese). Vol. 7. April 1987.
  4. ^ a b c "Arcade Action: Commando". Computer and Video Games. No. 46 (August 1985). 16 July 1985. p. 108.
  5. ^ "Video Game Flyers: Commando, Capcom (EU)". The Arcade Flyer Archive. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  6. ^ a b c "Overseas Readers Column" (PDF). Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 263. Amusement Press, Inc. 1 July 1985. p. 26.
  7. ^ "The Arcade Flyer Archive - Video Game: Commando, Capcom".
  8. ^ a b c d "The Man Who Made Ghosts'n Goblins". Continue. Vol. 12. October 2003.
  9. ^ a b "The Smash Hit No. 1 Arcade Game! Commando". Computer and Video Games. No. 50 (December 1985). 16 November 1985. pp. 2–3.
  10. ^ The Atari Advantage. Atari Corporation. 1989. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  11. ^ Atari Video Game Catalog. Atari Corporation. 1987. Retrieved 2011-02-08.
  12. ^ "Commando page on". Retrieved 2008-01-07.
  13. ^ "Complete Games Guide" (PDF). Computer and Video Games (Complete Guide to Consoles): 46–77. 16 October 1989.
  14. ^ "Software Reviews: Commando vs Rambo". Computer and Video Games. No. 52 (February 1986). 16 January 1986. p. 15.
  15. ^ a b "Software Reviews: Commando". Computer and Video Games. No. 51 (January 1986). 16 December 1985. p. 17.
  16. ^ a b Worley, Joyce; Katz, Arnie; Kunkel, Bill (September 1988). "Video Gaming World" (PDF). Computer Gaming World. No. 51. p. 52. Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  17. ^ a b Musgrave, Shaun (2017-03-24). "'Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando Mobile' Review – Don't Disturb My Friend, He's Dead Tired". TouchArcade. Retrieved 2018-09-25.
  18. ^ a b "War-time Action" (PDF). Cash Box. November 2, 1985. p. 50.
  19. ^ a b c Roberts, Mike (July 1985). "Coin-Op Connection". Computer Gamer. No. 4. pp. 18–9.
  20. ^ a b c d "Games Review". New Straits Times. 10 January 1986. p. 12.
  21. ^ Fox, Matt (3 January 2013). The Video Games Guide: 1,000+ Arcade, Console and Computer Games, 1962-2012, 2d ed. McFarland & Company. pp. 57–8. ISBN 978-0-7864-7257-4.
  22. ^ a b "Game of the Year Awards: Best Coin-Op Machine". Computer Gamer. No. 11. February 1986. p. 15.
  23. ^ a b "Golden Joystick Awards". Computer and Video Games (55). EMAP: 90. May 1986.
  24. ^ a b "CRASH 27 - Readers' Awards". Retrieved 2015-09-03.
  25. ^ "Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25 - テーブル型TVゲーム機 (Table Videos)" (PDF). Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 261. Amusement Press, Inc. 1 June 1985. p. 23.
  26. ^ "RePlay: The Players' Choice". RePlay. Vol. 11, no. 2. November 1985. p. 6.
  27. ^ "Commando". Crash. No. 24 (Christmas Special 1985/1986). 12 December 1985.
  28. ^ a b "Who Dares Wins". Computer Gamer. No. 7. October 1985.
  29. ^ "The Smash Hit No. 1 Arcade Game! Commando". Computer and Video Games. No. 51 (January 1986). 16 December 1985. pp. 2–3.
  30. ^ Meades, Alan (25 October 2022). Arcade Britannia: A Social History of the British Amusement Arcade. MIT Press. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-262-37235-0. Retrieved 5 August 2023. Capcom's games were excellent, and its Commando was immensely popular, selling more than 15,000 PCBs by early June 1985.
  31. ^ "Commando: Soldier of Fortune". Your Sinclair. No. 1. January 1986. p. 54.
  32. ^ "1985 Operator Survey: This Poll Says Go Gettum!". RePlay. Vol. 11, no. 2. November 1985. pp. 91-102 (93-4).
  33. ^ "The Software Chart". Computer and Video Games. No. 52 (February 1986). 16 January 1986. p. 64.
  34. ^ "News Desk: Exploding Fist tops Gallup 1985 charts". Popular Computing Weekly. 20 March 1986. p. 4.
  35. ^ "The charts". Your Computer. Vol. 6, no. 3. March 1986. p. 17.
  36. ^ "Yie Ar tops charts for 1986". Popular Computing Weekly. 12 February 1987. p. 6.
  37. ^ Petska-Juliussen, Karen; Juliussen, Egil (1990). The Computer Industry Almanac 1990. New York: Brady. pp. 3.10–11. ISBN 978-0-13-154122-1.
  38. ^ "Platinum Titles". Capcom. 2008-09-30. Archived from the original on 2008-01-16. Retrieved 2008-11-10.
  39. ^ Reed, Philip J (2010-12-10). "Review: Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando (Virtual Console / Virtual Console Arcade)". Nintendo Life. Retrieved 2022-05-17.
  40. ^ "Top 100 Games of All Time" (PDF). GamesMaster (44): 76. July 1996.
  41. ^ Bielby, Matt, "The YS Complete Guide To Shoot-'em-ups Part II", Your Sinclair, August 1990 (issue 56), p. 19
  42. ^ "Capcom: A Captive Audience". The Games Machine. No. 19 (June 1989). 18 May 1989. pp. 24–5.
  43. ^ "Wolf of the Battlefield Commando". Nintendo of Europe GmbH. 17 December 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  44. ^ a b c "「怒」を作った男" [The Man Who Made "Ikari"]. Continue. March 2001.
  45. ^ "Blasts from the Past". ACE. No. 26 (October 1989). November 1989. pp. 113–115. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  46. ^ "Konami's Barmy Army". Commodore User. No. 30 (March 1986). 26 February 1986. p. 13.
  47. ^ Duet at

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