Fast-forward to the year 2026. The streets of Metro City are riddled with crime. For a villain to commute over the city landscape in ride-armor mechs or sport industrial rocket launchers are nothing but a regular occurrence. Until Captain Commando and the three loyal members of the Commando Team arrive on the scene.
If you’ve ever played one of Capcom’s Final Fight games, you’ll be well acquainted with the mechanics of Captain Commando. So much so that the game includes various references to the Final Fight franchise and can be seen as a futuristic story arc of the universe. Your controls are identical; a traditional setup of eight-way joystick for moving the character and two action buttons, one for attacking, the other for jumping. When using a combination of these buttons a number of different attacks will be produced. Double-tapping forwards or backwards will cause you to run. When engaged in a run you can produce a more solid attack or an aerial assault which enemies will find difficult to avoid. If in a complete rut you can opt to simply tap both the attack and jump buttons simultaneously to execute a powerful outburst that will clear all villains from your path. This particular attack needs to be executed with caution as it depletes a small percentage from your health bar.
These gameplay mechanics sound much like any other side-scrolling fighter in the early nineties. Okay, who am I kidding, they’re exactly the same. What differentiates Captain Commando from other games in its genre are the environments and characters. The level designs while futuristic aren’t overly so, for the most part. The variety first and foremost sticks out. The littered streets of Metro City, a circus camp and outer space. Each featuring their own unique characters. The only thing more random than battling in a museum and then moving onto a ninja house are the characters of the Commando team themselves.
Let’s start with the main protagonist, Captain Commando. The leader of the “Commando Team”. Is equipped with Energy Gloves which can shoot both fire and electricity. If anything he can be seen as a combination between Robocop and any generic Western sheriff. His first sidekick is ‘Mack the Knife’. Just your regular alien/mummy hybrid that has an obsession with bladed weapons and a taste for horrendous urban fashion. Despite him being an oddity he is a fun character to play with. The most generic character is ‘Ginzu the Ninja’. His sword and ‘Smoke Bomb’ attacks are lethal. Lastly there is ‘Baby Head’. A genius baby riding a rocket equipped mech suit. Take a moment to wrap your head around that.
Other than some interesting environments, character and references to the Final Fight franchise Captain Commando is essentially a generic side-scrolling fighter. This doesn’t make it a bad game, just rather generic. If you manage to come across the game on an arcade machine or a console port it is worth picking up and playing with three other friends.