With a remake on the way along with a sequel, it got me to reminiscing. Not on what old school remakes were, but when Bionic Commando was Bionic F**KING Commando. Even if you didn’t have this game, someone nearby did, and every kid in school had played it. Upon starting the first stage there was always the classic question: “How the hell do you jump?”
This was why Bionic Commando is such a classic though. In an 8-bit world leaned on Mario and virtually every game having an option to jump, Bionic Commando ditched the whole idea and gave you a grappling hook. With this hook was how you got to ledges, hopped over enemies, and proceeded through the levels. By the second area you are so accustomed to the controls you forget that you can’t jump-that’s good controls right there.
In the game you are Rad Spencer. Some 80’s bad-ass that wears sunglasses, has his hair all punked out, and carries a huge bazooka along with his bionic arm. As told in the beginning of the game, Super Joe (the hero from the Arcade game Commando) is captured by the Badds (the American name for Nazis) and it’s up to Rad to go spring him out. Also revealed is a plan left from the Badds called Albatross that the new leader Generalissimo Killt is trying to implement.
The story’s wacky, but let’s get the one thing from it that makes it totally awesome: You get to kill Nazis…errr Badds.
And how are you going to save democracy? Well, you decide. The game has a somewhat non-linear path made for you in the game. Granted, some levels are inaccessible until certain requirements are met, but clumps at a time can be completed at your own discretion.
The levels consist of two different variations: Enemy bases’ where you just parachute in like the bad-ass you are and proceed to open up several cans of whoop-ass on enemy forces, and Neutral Areas, where you grab information, are unable to attack enemies (unless you want to deal with the peace brigade) and grab whatever items you may need.
There are also trucks stationed all over the level map that you may come into contact with. This puts you into an overhead perspective while you go through enemy forces, Ikari Warriors style and kill their general, collecting a continue in the process.
Rad may have a bazooka, but when you start all it is is a pea-shooter that fires two shots at a time. Oh yeah, and you have absolutely no life bar. By the time you are done, you will have collected a rocket launcher, a machine gun, and a three-way shot. All the guns have their pros and cons and any gun can get a number of jobs done. That life bar will increase too, as enemies are eliminated they leave these green bullets behind. Collect enough and you get to add bars to your energy.
But it’s not just survival you need to do, gathering info was the other neat part of Bionic Commando. Levels have at least one communication room where you can get in touch with other agents and figure out how to open doors, kill bosses, etc. Or, if you could care less what your peons can do, wire tap into the enemy and hear what they have to say about situations-be warned, they can assault you in the small communication room on occasion if they think something is up.
The Bionic Arm on Rad is a great way to give a bunch of action and give you some precise gaming. Rather than do platform jumping like every game in existence, you have to do platform grappling. There are levels that require you to go over a pit grappling onto extremely small surfaces to stay aflot without falling to your death, one small move and you’re done.
If there was anything wrong with Bionic Commando it’s just too easy. While you start with two lives zero energy and no continues, once you learn how to amass continues (just follow the trucks around), and kill enough Badds to get an energy bar, you can pretty much brave any challenge. Some levels do heat up a bit, but it’s nothing in the vein of Contra. The bottom line though is that Bionic Commando is just fun to play, it doesn’t need challenge, it’s a FUN game.
Besides, stick it out to the end-just to see a very graphic version of Hitler’s head exploding. Trust me, I’m not kidding. Heil Hitler!