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Commando: Steel Disaster (DS) artwork

Commando: Steel Disaster (DS) review

"Commando is a completely generic clone of the Metal Slug blueprint, giving us nothing new, except for its own unique list of problems. "

Commando: Steel Disaster wants to be Metal Slug – and it doesn’t try to hide it. It’s a smart, if shameful endeavour, given that the Metal Slug canon hovers at around ten strong and commands quite the cult following. You should expect the same brand of fast-paced, side-scrolling shooting action, as you take control of Storm, “a highly skilled soldier” (or so the back of the box tells us).

Skilled though Storm may be, he is inexplicably unable to shoot diagonally upwards. Why run-and-gun shooters continue to handicap their heroes so is beyond my understanding. If Storm manages to secure the right weapon, he can fire diagonally upwards as long as that weapon lasts him, which won’t be long (though he can never shoot diagonally downwards). There are the usual grenade launcher, machine gun and rocket launcher weapons on offer, and Storm can leap about, roll, and toss grenades – useful when up against mini-tanks or blockades providing enemies with cover from your fire.

Regrettably, Commando is a completely generic clone of the Metal Slug blueprint, giving us nothing new, except for its own unique list of problems. Trite dialog between characters precedes each level and is so bad, one wonders why they even bothered. The areas are comprised of multiple stages, sort of like 1-1, 1-2 and so on, although they are not labeled as such. But should you die at what is ostensibly level 1-4 – at the boss encounter – you’ll be displaced back to the title screen where your only option will be to have another go at level 1-1.

That’s right. There are no checkpoints within the areas, Storm only has one life, and there are no ‘continues’ to speak of. In Commando’s defense, Storm does have 100 points of vitality to work with, there are medkits available throughout the environs, and there is a continue option available to you should you manage to actually finish the area you’re working on, yet the odds are still not in your favour.

This is not to say the game is inordinately difficult; it’s manic, but it’s mostly fair, and the controls are spot on. The frustration arises when you meet up with boss for the first time and are more than likely dispatched in short order. It’s back to the drawing board for you, and that’s just inexcusable. This isn’t 1988. Unnecessary repetition kills games these days – or hasn’t developer ManaSoft heard?

If Commando: Steel Disaster is any indication, I suppose not. Sadly, despite some good graphics, decent sounds and temptingly mindless shoot-em-up action, the average gamer will consider this a throwaway. I can only see hardcore fans of the Metal Slug games and its ilk bothering to grant Steel Disaster more than a cursory play through. And even then, probably not for long: the unspectacular and provincial nature of this Metal Slug rip-off doesn’t warrant enduring the frustration that progress in it elicits.

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (October 22, 2008)

There was a bio here once. It's gone now.

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overdrive posted October 22, 2008:

Very nice review. Got your point across quickly and emphatically. This is one of those reviews where having those screenshots really helps. You say the game's a Metal Slug clone, I look at the pics and am like, "Yep....sure is." As a funny note, while I was looking up Game Boy games for my ill-fated attempts at Drella's tournament, I found word of a pure Metal Slug ripoff on that system. There's a part of me that really, really wants to play it just to see if it's as bad as it sounded. I just have to remember where I found out about it, so I can get it's name again.

Anyway, I think the problem that developers like the ones who did this game are having is trying to find that fine line between challenging and inane (or as you said about the lack of checkpoints, "it's not 1988"). Metal Slug-types are manic, challenging and short, so they go for little things to make them more difficult and in this case, they went too far in that direction, which seems to make the whole thing more frustrating than anything else.
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Masters posted October 22, 2008:

Thanks Rob, I think this is the first time I've gotten feedback from you on a review, so I'm especially thankful.

Yeah the game was all set to be a short and intense blastathon and then the developers had to go and pull some Ninja Gaiden circa '88 nonsense with the MISSION FAILED back to the title screen move. Totally kills things, unless you enjoy redoing long unremarkable, middle-of-the-road action sequences over and over until you manage to get it just right.
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overdrive posted October 22, 2008:

Just something I'm trying to do more of, Marc. I think one pet peeve a lot of people seem to have is the overall lack of feedback on reviews they submit. And since I read nearly everything on here and have an opinion about a lot of them, I'm trying to push myself to make more of an effort to give feedback to more reviews.
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Masters posted October 22, 2008:

Well nobody likes to write in a vacuum. ^_^

So it's LAZINESS to blame AS USUAL Rob. TSK TSK. Well what else is new, really. =D And here it is, I thought it was just you walking around thinking you're better than everyone else. (Although it could be that too.)

Seriously though, the only reason I don't comment more is I don't read enough of the reviews. If you actually do, I'd say the tough part is already done, no?
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WilltheGreat posted October 23, 2008:

It sounds like the only disaster was deciding to play this game.

Har har har.
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Masters posted October 24, 2008:

Ha, you don't know how close I was to using that bit of corniness in the actual review. ^_^
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psychopenguin posted October 24, 2008:

I agree with Overdrive on the screenshots making the case for your review perfectly. This review would have been decent without them, but with the screenshots and your Metal Slug comparisons, the review becomes short and sweet yet to the point. I really liked this review. One thing I noticed is that you really seemed to drive home the MS comparison, I think focusing on the game itself a little more at the beginning would have been cool. And I didn't really learn much besides it's hard, the guy can't shoot like he's in Contra, and it's a MS ripoff. But, I guess that's all I really needed to know so it's good you didn't go off on unnecessary tangents.

Now, I'll stop rambling.
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Masters posted October 24, 2008:

Ha, trust me PP, that's all the game's about. Just imagine you're playing a so-so copy of Metal Slug that looks good, sure, but your shooting skills are limited and the game kills you at a boss and sends you TO THE TITLE SCREEN. What more to say?

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