Commando (戦場の狼, Senjō no Ōkami?, lit. "Wolf of the battlefield") is a vertically-scrolling shoot 'em up arcade game released in 1985 and directed by Tokuro Fujiwara. It is the first game in the Commando series and was followed by two sequels, Mercs and Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3. Commando and Mercs were included on the fourth volume of Capcom Generations for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn and later on Capcom Classics Collection for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
All versions of the original game are very similar, with the same graphics (taking into account the various limitations of the platforms). The player (Super Joe) 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 wearing German WWII-era uniforms.
Super Joe is armed with a sub-machine gun (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 SMG 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.
As Super Joe has no power ups, there is no variety in the weaponry he can use throughout the game. This is in contrast to similarly themed games of roughly the same period, like Green Beret (in which limited use flame throwers and rocket launchers were available to supplement the main character's trusty Commando Blade), or Ikari Warriors (where Tanks and more powerful red bullets, could be obtained). Commando's popularity is strange, given this dimension of gameplay is missing, and therefore can be attributed to solid classical frenetic Robotron-like game mechanics, and perhaps to a lesser extent, the arcade version's (by far the best) polish and the fact that the game's release coincided (roughly) with the Rambo and Missing in Action movies.
- The iconic NES box art, taken directly from the Japanese arcade flyer, was created using the Japanese poster from the 1980 film Flash Gordon (as seen in the gallery below).
- Despite its US title, it is not related to the 1985 Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie of the same name.
- Commando posters appear in the Street Fighter X Tekken stage Urban War Zone.
- The back covers of the European releases clearly state the game is set in the 80s although it doesn't say which country or conflict its based on.
- In most home versions, the enemies are referred to as Rebel Forces. The Atari 7800 version implies that the enemies are Axis forces. The NES version simply calls the organisation the Evil Empire Army.
- The back covers of the European releases say that Joe's main weapon is a M60 machine gun. The back cover of the Atari 2600 says that his weapons are a M16 assault rifle and DM51 grenades.