8-Bit Dreams is a semi-regular feature here on Faux, where we take a look back at the undisputed legends of gaming; the console classics that shaped the platforms we know and love today. This time we look at the much loved innovative platformer Bionic Commando.
Developed for the arcades the game was actually a fairly standard platforming affair. The player works their way through the five levels; from a forest to a base, in order to stop a threatening armed force. The levels themselves, like any conventional platformer are straightforward and semi-linear, decked out with ledges and platforms, with many situations in which there are enemies and other dangers lurking around the corner. Prizes like points and power-ups can be obtained from crates that come on the screen in a parachute (similar to Worms) which can be collected by shooting them. The one key difference and the defining factor in Bionic Commando’s success? You couldnt jump; in the place of a standard jump function, Capcom created the characters grappling hook bio arm.
Straight from huge success in the Japanese arcades the original game was granted a sequel on the Nintendo Entertainment System. In Japan it was released as Hitler no Fukkatsu: Top Secret (The Resurrection of Hitler: Top Secret). Across the rest of the world, it was simply Bionic Commando. Why the change in title? I’ll explain in a minute.
The plot is set in the early 80’s, and centers around two warring states: the Federation and the Empire. One day, the Imperial Forces discover classified documents talking of the development of a new super weapon known as the “Albatros Project”, which was started by an organization known as the “Badds”, but was never completed. Killt, the Generalissimo of the Imperial Forces, decides to complete the project himself. When the Federation learns of the Empire’s plot, they send in their national hero, Super Joe to infiltrate the Empire, but he ends up being captured. To rescue Super Joe, the Federation sends in a second operative named Ladd Spencer of the FF (Double Force) Battalion, a team of commandos specially trained to use wired guns implanted into their arms, to rescue him.
The plot differs between the Japanese version and other versions published across the world. The Empire in the Japanese version was actually a Neo Nazi group and their army’s symbol was a Nazi Swastika with a thunderbolt behind it. In the English version, the Nazis were referred to as the “Badds”, the army’s Swastika insignia was changed to resemble an eagle. The leader of the villains, originally called Weizmann was now renamed Killt.
One of the most prominent differences involves the main antagonist of the game, who is meant to be a revived Adolf Hitler. For the English version, the character was renamed “Master-D”, but his likeness to Hitler was unchanged. There is a sequence towards the end of the game in which a close up of the characters face explodes and it’s massively obvious he was based on Hitler (video below).
I love this game and have logged many hours on both this version and its remake on Xbox Live (Bionic Commando: Re-armed). If you have never played the game and call yourself a gamer, I’d just take that left hand of yours and swipe it clean across your face. The Xbox Live remake is not a bad place to start at all as most of the game remains intact and the updated visuals and soundtrack make it one of the best games (visually) on Live.
Last year the game was granted a full 3D sequel; Bionic Commando (2009) for PS3 and Xbox 360. Although fun and visually impressive, the release was heavily criticized for its confusing and long winded plot; and more specifically its terrible plot twist. It’s by no means a bad game, but you’ll either love it or hate it and I highly recommend either digging out a NES emulator or playing the remake before you delve into the HD sequel.
Here’s the first 10 minutes of the game to wet your appetite, enjoy.