The Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Files #1: Commando – Steel Disaster

The tragic bellyflopping of great Game Boy-family titles like Shantae and Ninja Five-O made me realize that portable gaming consoles have a tendency to play host to some of the finest under-the-radar creations the industry has ever seen. The combination of low development overhead and the general public’s habit of thinking of handhelds as the domain of kiddies means that plucky little gems can often go unnoticed. So I’ve taken to watching for random, what on earth is this releases. This week, XS’s Commando: Steel Disaster for DS seems poised to slip between the cracks. Next week, it’ll apparently be Mazes of Fate DS. The fall rush: a magical time when everyone releases their games, even games that stand zero chance of being noticed amidst the big-name titles published by companies who can actually afford to have an ad budget. Le sigh.

But what is Commando: Steel Disaster? So far as I can tell, it’s pretty much a complete Metal Slug rip-off. As a matter of fact, I believe this debuted a while back under the title 07 Commando, upon which debut it was soundly excoriated for shamelessly swiping from SNK’s side-scrolling masterpiece. And from what I’m seeing here, there’s not much reason to doubt that it is, in fact, an off-brand knock-off.

Still, sometimes an uninspired knock-off can be perfectly fun! If you’re going to plunder someone else’s hard work, you might as well scavenge from the best. The question is whether or not Steel Disaster steals well, or if it simply embarrasses everyone involved: us the gamers, SNK the creators, XS the, uh, borrowers.

I decided to grab a copy while I can, because this strikes me as the sort of thing that will be published in dangerously low quantities, ship to a handful of retailers and promptly disappear. And, also, because I am a hopeless sucker for big, colorful, hand-drawn sprites.

Unfortunately, I can’t test its Metal Slug-ness myself at the moment, because I’m totally swamped with stuff to review. Away: Shuffle Dungeon and Chrono Trigger and Wario Land aren’t going to play themselves, I fear. So, if anyone out there has the courage to be a hero and take this bullet, please do let me know how it turns out.

18 thoughts on “The Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Files #1: Commando – Steel Disaster

  1. That looks pretty dang fun. Seems like it should be a PSN / XBLA title rather than a DS title — it’d get a lot more press. (And my casual curiosity would instead be a sure-sale).

  2. Well. It’s a serviceable ripoff. The characters don’t have as much style and aren’t as memorable, the combat is a bit stiff (as is the animation), and the deaths are ubiquitous and unforgiving. Sure, you have a health bar and armor, but once you’re dead, you’re dead. You better have made it to some kind of save screen, because there aren’t any checkpoints to be found. If you must purchase this, I suggest waiting until you can find it at a reduced price. Otherwise, just replay Metal Slug 7.

  3. Wait, I hope you’re not letting your time playing Chrono Trigger take away from the Connecticut Trombonist review you promised us a couple days back!

  4. I don’t see any badly-resized sprites or pre-rendered backgrounds, so I already like it better than Metal Slug 7.

  5. Maybe there should be a specific list of these under the radar handheld titles. I know I keep forgotting them even when I’ve thought that I should check out a title, such as Commando: Steel Rebellion (see, I can’t even get the name right after one minute).

  6. Rei! You’re weaksauce! If you can’t 1-life the game on the hardest difficulty, your life has *no* meaning.

  7. Mazes of Fate? It was somewhat awkward and buggy, but I played the hell out of that thing! It was fun and I admired it’s moxie. (Although I had not yet been spoiled by Etrian Odyssey. My reaction may have been different if I had.) I hope the DS version is more of a sequal than a port. I’m a bit of a fan, but not a big enough one to buy the whole game all over again. (Well, perhaps if there was a really good sale.)

  8. @vsrobot: I beat Metal Slug 5 while at the 1up GameWorks Party. It took me 27 credits, and I have no shame about it. I had fun, and that’s all that mattered.

  9. Yeah, there is a darned good chance that it’s a better game than Metal Slug 7. I played that and it seemed as old ‘n busted as you can get. SNK went to the well way too many times with this series. There are some smart additions, mostly stolen from Contra 4, but overall it’s a very ho-hum Metal Slug game, sharing more in common with 4 and 5 than 1 or 2.

  10. @ dj, yeah, they had it.

    Also, I’ll be picking up Commando: Forgotten Subtitle on my way home from work.

  11. The backwards “DS” subtitle-initialism hints that this is, indeed, a reverse-engineered game.

  12. Parish: You should boot up the game right now just to kill yourself and listen to the Game Over tune.

    C´mon. See if it rings a bell. Let me know what you think.

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