Of the available import Capcom Generations discs, this one seems to be the best value to me. It contains three games in the top-down ground based soldier shoot-em-up genre; the classic Commando, the mot-so-popular Gun.Smoke (what’s up with that “.” anyway? Can’t infringe on the TV show of the same name, I guess…) and the more recent Mercs 2.
So what do you get for your money? Well, I like to think of this collection as a lesson in game design. Commando was basically the first game of its type (at least, that I remember) and is very simple. You run up the screen firing your machine gun at enemy soldiers and vehicles, and you can also throw grenades (but only in a straight vertical line north). You run through several levels of increasingly more difficult terrain and manic enemy action until you eventually run out of lives. At least, that’s how I usually end up. I have fond memories of the Commando machine I used to plunk quarters into at my local Meijer’s store. I still love the game today, and it was the reason I bought this collection.
If Commando isn’t your thing, you probably won’t get much thrill out of Gun.Smoke. Basically, it’s commando set in the old west. You still move up vertically and only vertically, but this time you brandish twin pistols that can only be fired straight up or up-diagonally right and left. ALso, there are power-ups to collect and actual bosses to gun down, unlike Commando’s end-of-level soldier-fests. Still, even though Gun.Smoke is a game I enjoy, and it has several “improvements” over Commando, I still play more of Capcom’s classic WWII shooter than this game… something about Japan’s take on the old west of America, maybe… I don’t know… anyway, moving right along…
We come to Mercs 2, the most recent and definitely most modernized of the three games offered. This is the only title which has a simultaneous two (or three if you are lucky enough to have snagged a multi-tap) mode, which as we all know is a terrific boon for any game. Unfortunately, having three heavily armed players tearing up the multi-directional-scrolling landscapes of Mercs 2 is also a very, very bad thing for the enemy soldiers and bosses, which barely have a chance to do any screen time at all in the hail of bullets and various other crippling firepower you and your friends are filling the air with. Seriously, the game is a challenge if you go solo, and you’ll actually have time to appreciate the leaps and bounds over Commando and Gun.Smoke it represents. There are different guns to try out, each with upgradeable levels of power, vehicles and stationary turrets to man and use to mow down the enemy, and huge bosses that spit death at you from all directions. Alas, as I mentioned, if you hook up with a friend or two all you’re gonna see on screen is your own firepower as enemy after enemy buys the farm as soon as he sets a pixel on the edge of the battleground. This wouldn;t be so bad if not for the fact that the game’s levels are incredibly short (some things haven’t changed since Commando, it seems) and there are not that many of them. Alas, the game can be finished the first time through in under half an hour, making it by far the easiest of the three games included.