Color Commando (DSiWare)

Game Review

Color Commando Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Morgan Sleeper


Quirky, innovative puzzle-platformers are becoming something of a calling card for Goodbye Galaxy Games, and this latest release fits nicely into that oeuvre. The final panel in a DSiWare triptych that includes the Flipper series and Ace Mathician, Color Commando similarly revolves around manipulating the environment — here via magical paint — to reach your goal. It's puzzle-platforming performance art, and it's fantastically fun.

The premise of Color Commando is very simple: guide your adventuring artist through the single-screen stages to reach a pile of treasure, avoiding dayglo goons along the way. What makes the game stand out is its unique painting mechanic: after picking up individual globs of green, pink, or purple paint, you can use the stylus to splatter a square swath of the screen with each colour, creating a protective patch of pigment that renders monsters of the corresponding hue harmless within its frame. Paint an area purple, for instance, and you can safely share that space with purple enemies. Your paint also has the ability to let like-coloured enemies pass through walls, adding another coat of depth to the experience.

While Color Commando is a puzzle-platformer, it definitely tends towards the left side of that hyphen, with levels that remind us of Layton as much as Mario. Rather than tricky jumps or belligerent baddies standing between you and your objective, here it's all about thoughtful planning and timing. Once you've learned how far your paratrooping Picasso can leap off of ledges and ladders, you can often figure out a solution before you even take your first step, and that's incredibly satisfying.

It's possible to get through most stages on brain-power alone, but reaching the treasure is really only half the goal. There are also three coins placed in every stage, and trying to collect them all is a substantial challenge that asks quite a lot more of your platforming chops. Most of the time coin collecting involves backtracking or extra-risky maneuvers, but occasionally you'll need to think about the puzzle in an entirely new way if you want to nab all three, and that's where the system is at its best. It's not just for bragging rights either; in addition to four regular levels apiece, each of Color Commando's five worlds has a secret stage to unlock by collecting all the coins in that world's previous levels.

Seeing every secret stage will take some serious paint-bucket prowess, and happily the controls are more than up to the task. Color Commando avoids the constant stylus-swapping of many games that use both buttons and the touchscreen by controlling very simply and very well: the D-Pad moves your character, the L and R buttons cycle through your three-colour paint inventory, and tapping the touchscreen will paint where you point. There's no jumping to worry about, and a single shoulder button selects from all three paint colours, so you can keep one hand on the system and the other on the stylus at all times; since a simple tap is the most complicated touchscreen gesture required, southpaw painters should be just fine. Our only complaint is that collision detection can be a bit vague, and there are a few puzzles where that makes slipping in-between enemies at the right moment more difficult than it needs to be.

In keeping with its polychromatic premise, Color Commando's gameplay is wrapped up in a charmingly colourful presentation. The cowlick-sporting, colour-conjuring Caravaggio you control is full of pixelated personality, and splattering the archetypical platformer backgrounds with neon paint is seriously grin-inducing. The only element that falls flat is the design of the flying enemies: they lack the shading of their earthbound counterparts and look out of place - and straight out of MS Paint - as a result. On the audio side, the excellent soundtrack deserves a special mention. Each world has its own music that fits the visual theme perfectly: atmospheric airs of adventure fill the cave and temple levels, while the outdoor stages feature cheerful synth melodies that sound like title screen tracks from imaginary NES games.

As with its predecessor Ace Mathician, our only real disappointment with Color Commando is that it's over so quickly. It's easy enough to paint your way to the end credits in under an hour, though going for the coins on every level could easily double that estimate. The length itself isn't really the issue — for 200 Nintendo Points, a few fun-filled hours seems more than enough to us — but rather that the experience seems to end just as it's getting started. While the painting mechanic feels novel and fun, it stays exactly the same throughout the game, and we'd love to have seen it taken even further. What about new colours? Paint mixing? Different enemy types and movement patterns? It's hard to shake the feeling that these levels seem like the opening chapters to a larger game - World 1-1 through 1-5 of Super Color Commando, perhaps. To be clear, the fact that our biggest issue with the game is that we'd like to play more of it speaks entirely to the quality of what is here, rather than the conspicuous absence of anything that isn't; Color Commando's intuitive simplicity serves it very well.


Color Commando paints quite a picture. It's a fresh, charming puzzle-platformer, very possibly one of the last great DSiWare games, and it costs less than a latte. It won't last for long - you could easily rush through to the end credits before the paint's dried in the tutorial - but it's pure fun from start to finish. If you appreciate creative gameplay and an endearing, after-school aesthetic, get ready to channel your inner puzzle-platforming Pollock: Color Commando makes an excellent addition to any collection.

From the web

Game Trailer

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User Comments (37)



Flowerlark said:

I like puzzle platformers, but didn't really enjoy Flipper or Ace Mathcian. I wonder whether I would like this one, then?



kitroplious said:

Yeah I really enjoyed this one! The gameplay is interesting and unique, given that you are safe in a pink color when a pink enemy goes through, and so on with other enemies and colors matching them!

Thanks @HugoSmits for this one, really enjoyed it!

Hmm... I saw on CIRCLE's website that a title called Tappingo may be coming in the future.



cyphid said:

Glad to know this game is fun, though bite sized. Sometimes games that are enjoyable regardless of length is never a bad thing.



HugoSmits said:

woah! thanks for the 8 guys! And the review is maybe the most positive one I have ever received

@Bulby: on the 9th of may Color Commando will enter the European DSiWare shop!

@divinealpha: haha yes, I wasn’t quite ready yet to announce that game.. but the Circle people are quick! It’s a ‘real’ (i.e. no platforming) puzzle game and..... drums ....... it will be my first Nintendo 3DS project!



Dpullam said:

I liked what I saw from the video on the eshop. I'm putting this game on my wishlist.



DarkCoolEdge said:

I was tempted and then I saw that it costs 2€. Now I'm sure I'll give it a shot.

How many blocks does it require?



kitroplious said:

@HugoSmits Well at least almost everyone doesn't know what it looks like yet! I mostly don't understand what the game is going to be about without screenshots.

I'm looking forward to whatever you do for the 3DS.



Luigi_is_better said:

@HugoSmits looks like another great experience! I enjoyed both Flippers and both this and Ace Mathician are on my wish list. Also excited to hear you're moving on to 3DS, even if it was a little premature of an announcement!



Klimbatize said:

I'm glad to hear it came out well. From the video and description, it seemed like it was a fun twist on the genre, but I was waiting for a review to see if it played well. I'm definitely buying this when I get home. I love having puzzlers like this on my 3DS.

Excited to hear your next project will be on the 3DS, Hugo.



OptometristLime said:

You can take this criticism with the proverbial grain of salt, but it would be nice if you avoided the enthusiastic writer's tendency to show off their vocabulary. Obscure words have their place, and perhaps I'm showing some ignorance, still when faced with two contrived words in the same number of opening sentences...



rayword45 said:

@HugoSmits No space limit on 3DSWare shop - so what can we expect of graphics and content?

Also this is probably my favorite GGG game, but I'm a sucker for no jump platformers like Bionic Commando. Also, it's tough as hell.



zipmon said:

@Optimist_Prime Was going for an art criticism pastiche there, but sorry to hear you found it contrived. In any case, the enthusiasm is for the game itself - I loved it!

@DarkCoolEdge A trim 37 DSiWare blocks!

@Flowerlark What are some other puzzle-platformers you enjoy? This one has a similar premise to Ace Mathician, in that you're manipulating the environment, but the paint lends itself to more hands-on experimentation than Ace's equations do. Also, though the mechanics are very different, I'd say if you liked the Rabi Laby games you'd probably like this one as well!



Flowerlark said:

@zipmon- I liked Rabi Laby but it was too hard for me (sad, I know). O_O I'd say DodoGo was my favourite. I liked Zoonies and Catrap an awful lot too. I don't know if Castle of Magic or Shantae: RR count as puzzle-platformers or just plain platformers, but I loved those as well. Minis March Again and Mighty Switch Force were awfully fun, but much too hard for me a little over halfway in.



HugoSmits said:

@rayword45 Pretty much the same. The length or visual style where never there because of hardware limitations. I really dig pixel art, although I have some plans for a cool 3D game.

Content wise it’s all up to the market. I would love to make bigger games, but those costs more to develop. I can only make them if enough people are buying games

The puzzle game will have ‘more’ content than usual but that’s mostly because it’s easy to create new puzzles versus a complete new level theme and set of enemies that is normally required for an extra world.



zipmon said:

@Optimist_Prime You got it!

@Flowerlark Haha don't worry, I find Rabi Laby games ridiculously tough too! This one's got some tricky puzzles, but I definitely think it's easier than either the Rabi Labys or Mighty Switch Force. It's also much more about thinking up solutions than it is about quick reflexes or precise platforming. Of the games you mentioned I think Catrap is the best parallel - Color Commando is about getting from A to B instead of getting rid of enemies, but it takes the same kind of planning and foresight to solve the puzzles.



Windy said:

Very good review. I was waiting on a review to get this but its confirmed now. Thanks Nintendolife you guys are the best! The EShop is the best with all these sales that have sprung up! And we seem to be getting great 3rd party support these days. Excellent on all fronts! Now is a goodtime to be a Nintendo fan from a guy who has complained a bit in this past year. Great stuff!



Flowerlark said:

@zipmon Thanks so much for the info! I'll have to give this one a try then. I adored the tricky puzzles in Catrap so this does sound right up my alley.



Henmii said:

I'll think I'll pass, since I am not a fan of the games Hugo Smits makes! Sorry Hugo, I really wanted to love your games (and you are Dutch too), but I sadly can't!



Windy said:

@HugoSmits Great Job man! I've been playing Color Commando this week and I gotta say, I like playing it better than Soul Hackers, which I payed the big bucks for. Thanks for a fun game at a Great price. I hope it does very well. Soul Hackers has been very disappointing to me so far Color Commando is just good ole Fashion Fun!

Congrats on the rating as it was a well deserved rating, I really hope we see you in the future. I would also like to suggest a 3dizing of color commando it would look awesome if it can be done. Would be neat to see the paint come out at you in 3d. But great game as is and again congrats



sinalefa said:

I have never played any of the Goodbye Galaxy Games, but this one looks nice.

Thankfully you only work with three different enough colors, so that help us color blind not to get unnecessarily confused or frustrated.



Windy said:

@HugoSmits I still like Color commando alot but, after finally getting into Soul Hackers after 6 hours I'm loving it now Took me a while on Soul Hackers but better late than never. I still havent beat Color Commando im off the next couple days if My wife doesn't have alot for me to do this week I will make a run on Color commando. Really fun Hugo and thats all that Matters



ShortSleevedNook said:

The great thing about really short, but really fun games are their replay value. You can easily play them over and over again and have a blast every time!

This is true for a lot of old-school video games like Sonic R. Short game, but I enjoy playing it over and over again because how fun it is for me. Or think of other games like Super Mario Land, Gain Ground, the original Sonic games. sometimes, those games can take a while to beat at first, because of difficulty, but the more you beat it, the better you get at it. Like the original Super Mario Bros. It was a short game, but the best part was the experience of struggling through it those first 20-something tries, and then finally coming out in successful triumph! After that, the game becomes a permanent part of your memories in gaming, and if you enjoyed it, then you keep coming back to it over and over again for more good times.

So while video games may be short, it's the experience that counts, and if it was that great of an experience, then you'll keep coming back for more! That's what's so awesome about short and sweet video games! They're probably my favorite, to be outright honest.



DarkCoolEdge said:

Hi @HugoSmits
I bought Color Commando yesterday and finished it in my first play session. It was short but sweet and I still have to unlock two extra stages. A couple of levels are devilish if you want to get all the coins!
I'm glad I downloaded it, it's very short but I believe is worth the 2€ it costs.
I might get Ace Mathician . Keep'em comin'!

Edit: btw, I could use some help with stages 4-2, 4-3, 5-2 and 5-4, please?



TG1 said:

Thank you Hugo for making such a fun (if far too short) game. I'd very much enjoy seeing a sequel for the 3DS e-shop!

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