It's been almost twenty-five years since Commando hit the arcades, and yet the original title still holds some allure for gamers of a certain age. This is all the more impressive when you consider that there are few Capcom games that last so long without clocking up a stream of spin-offs. Taking over two decades to produce three games in a successful series is surprisingly out of character for the sequel-happy Japanese developer.
Good timing probably helped cement the series in our shared memory. The original Commando, released way back in 1985, may not have been officially based on the identically titled Schwarzenegger action "classic" which came out the same year, but Capcom was certainly happy to let arcade kids assume otherwise. The same is true for the second Rambo movie, also released in 1985, which made rescuing prisoners of war the heroic endeavour of choice. By accident, or more likely by design, Commando rode a zeitgeisty wave of post-Vietnam violence and military fetishism.
It was never the most innovative shooter of its stripe though, and was soon outclassed by the likes of Taito's Ikari Warriors. Much like Capcom's upcoming update of 1942, very little has changed here. Commando 3 has been tweaked to bring it in line with modern expectations, but the core components are immediately recognisable from the start of the first level, as you advance on fiendish enemies hiding behind sandbags. The "Wolf of the Battlefield" tagline is even a literal translation of the original Japanese title, Senjo no Okami.