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Captain Commando (SNES) artwork

Captain Commando (SNES) review


"Not only was blood removed from the game, but the boss named "Blood" got his name changed to the less-intimidating "Boots" (to reflect his kick-heavy offense)."



While I was growing up, it seemed that Capcom was more than proficient when it came to creating good games, and even better at wringing every last drop of life out of their most successful ideas. In the case of Mega Man, this tactic usually worked. The developers gave players the same core game many, many times, but were so good at making them (and adding minor alterations) that if a player enjoyed one, he'd likely want to play more of the same.

Final Fight wasn't so lucky. On one level, it was nice to see Capcom make a whole lot of similar brawlers, as that game was my favorite of all the old-time beat-em-ups, but some of the eventual clones just missed the point. Case in point: Captain Commando for the SNES.

On the bright side, this game corrected the SNES port of Final Fight's biggest flaw and now allows cooperative play for two players at once. There's also a wide variety of enemies, ranging from shirtless musclemen to shock rod-wielding women and larger bomb-throwing amazons. On your side, you have a total of four characters to choose from -- guys who were apparently designed solely by guys trying to mash together as many "rule of cool" tropes as possible. Captain Commando himself is a superhero and he's joined on his quest by a knife-wielding mummy, a ninja and a super-baby piloting a mech.

And that's the end of the bright side. Now, to discuss the myriad of things that went wrong…

Perhaps we should start with the censoring. The arcade version of Captain Commando had fatalities where your kills could get pretty graphic. The ninja, for example, would chop foes in half with his kill shots. In a similar vein, the mummy's knives were coated in acid which would dissolve them into puddles of goo. On the SNES, you just get the typical "fall down and play dead" animation that anyone who has played any brawler has seen too many times to count. Not only was blood removed from the game, but the boss named "Blood" got his name changed to the less-intimidating "Boots" (to reflect his kick-heavy offense).

Captain Commando screenshotCaptain Commando screenshot


Or maybe we should just dive into a subtle shift in focus that may be the root cause behind my severe disdain for this title, even though I'm one of the bigger advocates of the flawed SNES port of Final Fight. You see, that older game had a handful of decent-sized to lengthy levels. Bosses were more challenging than their subordinates, of course, but oftentimes, the biggest challenge was just reaching them, as there were a lot of foes with a wide variety of potent attacks to face along the way. Some of those underlings, such as the imposing Andore, could even be considered mini-bosses. As the game progressed, many of these guys would gain more robust life meters, so it could take a long time to clear out a screen full of thugs. Fighting through the levels was a lot of fun, as the challenge continually kept rising. A group of foes that was easy pickings in the first level would wind up being a stern test by the final level, as they kept getting more durable and the waves of them grew more numerous.

Captain Commando gives you nine levels, with all of them being quite short. Most of the time, the boss is the only thing worth noting about a given stage, as you'll only have to deal with a few groups of enemies before running into him (or it). Look at the circus level to see a great example of lazy programming. You'll fight a couple small groups of enemies before entering a tent set up like an arena, where you'll find yourself besieged by a horde of the game's most generic foe. Three of these guys will be on the screen at the same time, slowly walking towards you, hoping to land at least one punch before you dispatch them. Survive this onslaught and you'll enter a new room where the boss resides… and that's the end of that one. There are a total of two things worth mentioning there: one of the game's toughest boss fights, and a large-scale battle with at least a dozen clones of the least interesting adversary the game possesses.

Then again, other than the bosses, there aren't many interesting foes to ever see -- even if they appear to be nearly as diverse as those in Final Fight. Way too many of the guys you’ll face rely far too heavily on the "walk slowly towards you and then attack" technique, which makes them excessively easy to overwhelm, especially since nearly all of the regular foes have pitifully short life meters and will be nearly dead after sustaining one good combo. They are only dangerous if you don't take advantage of the multi-planed fields and try to punch out three guys at once, instead of moving around to separate them for easy pickings. A few enemies will throw stuff or emit fire or shockwaves, but their small life meters ensure that they'll only be an issue if you're careless. The two most interesting (and dangerous) foes only make a couple brief appearances, which is too bad, as the sword-wielding Musashi and the claw-armed Z are the only non-bosses who combine long-range attacks with the ability to take a bit of punishment. They only appear in one or two stages each, though, while the bulk of your opposition is the slow-moving cannon fodder. I mean, this game even makes enemy ninjas seem dull and weak. When that happens, not much can be salvaged, I fear…

Such is life in the world of Captain Commando. It's a pale clone of Final Fight that manages to blunt or completely negate everything that was good about that other game, to instead create a collection of short, repetitive levels loaded with weak foes and more challenging bosses. The potential thrill of fighting them isn't worth the dull slog through their levels, however. My advice -- just forget about this game and play a few rounds of Final Fight if you want to enjoy some time with a quality Capcom beat-em-up.

Rating: 3/10

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (May 04, 2013)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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