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8-Bit Infantry Wars, Part I: Commando

Metal Arcade: Stan Stepanic writes:

We’re looking back at 8-bit infantry games, chronologically. First up is the Capcom classic run-and-gun game, Commando.

The run-and-gun, man, what happened?! Run-and-gun games were “the cool” back in the 1980s. Any neighbor with at least one of these games was totally badass in spite of any failings in real life. It’s simple – you run, you shoot, stuff dies, things explode, you feel empowered/ overwhelmed. The player typically controls a soldier, either attacking an unnamed, though suspiciously communist enemy, or aliens. This was an important time in the history of video games, because some of our cultural icons are tied to this genre (think Contra or Rambo). Before that, no combat games involved war, other than a few, forgotten arcade titles.

The change came when Taito released Front Line, which was essentially the first infantry-focused game of its kind. By today’s standards, though, it’s impossible to take seriously. Its long-obsolete graphics and gameplay, combined with its lack of challenge make it hardly worth playing other than to say you played a piece of gaming history. The Atari 2600 port of Front Line is actually better than the arcade original. Still, it set the standard for what was to come, and the next step was taken by Capcom’s legendary Commando.

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