The NES (and Famicom) version of Commando contains the most significant differences out of every home conversion published. Examples of such changes are:
- The increase from two unique sets of four stages to four unique sets of four stages, numbered 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, etc. up to 4-4.
- Fewer enemies occupy the screen at one time, and bullets are generally slower.
- Bonus items will appear on the ground if you kill particular soldiers with a grenade.
- Ladders can be discovered by throwing a grenade at certain places. These ladders may lead to prisoners, weapons, items, or they may be traps.
- Bazooka soldier can only fire straight down, but they can fire multiple missiles at one time.
- Fewer on-screen colors, and more graphics flickering.
There are a number of new items that may appear from defeated soldiers, or may be found by climbing down a ladder.
|Wireless Remote Radio||Collect this to instantly wipe out all of the enemies on the screen and grab a helicopter ride to the next stage.|
|Medal of Honor||Grants you one extra life.|
|Binoculars||If you collect the binoculars, you will be able to see the locations of all the hidden ladders for the remainder of the stage.|
|Bulletproof Vest||Collect the bulletproof vest to gain protection from 10 bullets or 2 grenade blasts. It will wear off after whichever comes first.|
|Bonus Items||Bonus items are items that you simply collect for points. These will include money bags, rations, and barrels which appear when you kill particular enemies with grenades, or gasoline containers which are only found underground.|
|Commander Badge||Commander Badges appear when you defeat particular enemies underground. They will also provide you with bonus points.|
|Flashlight||Flashlights can be obtained from some underground rooms. When you collect them, the screen becomes dark, and the enemies will have a difficult time finding you.|
|Flashing Grenade||When you pick up a flashing grenade, the next grenade that you throw will instantly kill every enemy present on the screen.|
|Yashichi||Capcom's famous symbol can be found by shooting a certain locations in particular underground rooms. Finding this hidden bonus item will give you 10,000 points.|
There are two power-ups that Super Joe can collect by rescuing certain prisoners from underground prisons. These power-ups will wear off if you lose a life, or if you complete the entire set of stages that you are currently in.
- Machine Gun power-up
- When Super Joe obtains the machine gun power-up, his bullets increase in size, speed, and range. You will be able to fire more of them faster, and they will travel to the end of the screen without wearing out.
- Grenade power-up
- When Super Joe obtains a grenade power-up, the grenades that you throw will have an increased explosion radius. You can collect this power-up five times before it no longer has any increased effect. A separate grenade power-up can grant you an infinite supply of grenades.
Whenever you discover a ladder leading to an underground room, you can enter the room by standing on the ladder. Once you are inside, you may find yourself in a one or two room prison. There you may find prisoners which you can free for 1000 points each, or possibly gain the benefit of a power-up. Other items may be found like gasoline containers, or certain enemies can be killed to obtain a 10,000 point commander badge. Some rooms serve as traps, such as gas rooms, or rooms that contain flying daggers or snakes. Every prison has an escape ladder that leads back outside, but not every ladder is visible. In some cases (especially in gas rooms), you'll have to reveal the ladder by throwing a grenade in the correct location. If you do not find the escape ladder in a gas room before time runs out, you will lose a life.
- See all hidden ladders
- Enter the following code on the title screen to make all of the hidden ladders visible as you play the game. On the second controller, enter . The press on the first controller.
- Level select code
- To enter this code, you must play the game at least one time so that you are able to select the continue mode from the title screen. Once you die, return to the title screen, select either continue mode and enter the following code. On the second controller, enter . Then press and hold and press on the first controller. A stage number will appear. Keep holding and press to advance the stage number to whichever stage you would like to proceed from. Then press .