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Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Bad Dudes (Switch) artwork

Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Bad Dudes (Switch) review

"Bad Dudes is back! Depending on how you felt about the arcade original, that's both the good news and the bad."

"Are you a bad enough dude to save President Ronnie?"

At long last, my answer to that question is a resounding "Yes!" I always suspected I was a bad dude, sufficient for most any task you might name. But now I know for a certainty that I can save the president, if ever a time comes when he is kidnapped by dragon ninja. At least, I can if I have unlimited continues.

Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Bad Dudes vs. Dragonninja is, as you must suspect, a Switch port of the arcade classic of the same name (minus the whole "Johnny Turbo's Arcade" bit, which doesn't make any sense but anchors a whole series of ports of Data East classics presently offered on Nintendo Switch). The original game was quite popular when I was a youngster, on the NES and in arcade cabinet form at local convenience stores. I even played the latter once, when I had a few quarters to spare. I didn't get far, so I welcomed the chance years later to finally see that old adventure through to its conclusion.

As the story goes, ninja-related crimes are on the rise and even the White House can't stop it. President Ronnie, who looks a whole lot like Ronald Reagan, has been kidnapped. It is your job to save him, either alone or with a friend. This you will do by battling through a whole slew of ninja warriors who mostly look the same, with the exception of bosses you battle first at the end of each stage and then as part of a gauntlet before you can face the leader of the entire evil clan.

Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Bad Dudes (Switch) image

Brawlers aren't all that popular in arcades these days. Arcades aren't even that popular, for that matter. But there was a time when things were different, and Bad Dudes is a product of that time. Playing it today is a bit underwhelming, and I recognize the experience must have limited or no appeal to people who aren't already a bit in love with the genre and the nostalgia. But if you do have the nostalgia--as I do--you're in for an okay time.

I say "okay" because unlike Double Dragon and other such titles, Bad Dudes limits your movement significantly. You don't have to worry about depth of field. Instead of moving toward the back of the screen or toward its front, you really can just walk, jump, punch and kick on two levels: the top and bottom halves of the screen. Sometimes, you can't really even do that, because you're riding on top of a fleet of trucks or a train and jumping down just means you break your ankle and drop off the screen.

The more limited options for movement do make for a simpler game, and that means that in some respects Bad Dudes is pretty easy. I tend to have an easy time playing through the individual stages without taking a whole lot of damage, since most ninja fall after sustaining a single hit. You also have a reasonably generous life meter, and you can refill it by stopping to grab cans of soda that drop (or whatever they're supposed to be). There also are weapons, such as a dagger, which make things easier still if you need the help.

Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Bad Dudes (Switch) image

Boss encounters are considerably more difficult than the gauntlets leading up to them, however. At the end of the first stage, there's a guy--Karnov, a character Data East's developers seem to have liked a lot--who breathes fire and slowly walks or jumps toward you and clumsily punches. He's easy enough to tend to with quick jump kicks, followed by hasty retreats, then more jump kicks until he collapses in a heap. At the end of the second stage, while climbing around the cab of a truck, you will fight a guy with iron claws on his fists. He's a bit harder, but still manageable. After that, though, things start to get a little silly. Life meters steadily grow longer, and enemies get more creative with their attacks, so that you can hardly help but take damage until you've really mastered the game. I see their unforgiving nature as a symptom of the old game design philosophy that said "Wow, we really need to get more coins from players so stores and arcades will stock our games and we can stay in business." That didn't work out in the end, but you can see where the developers were going with that idea.

The Switch port of the game is pretty decent, though, I must say. It doesn't seem to introduce problems that didn't originate in the original arcade game, and fixing those problems would probably have diminished my desire to even play. So there's still a ridiculous script, as there should be, complete with awkward grammar and silly dialogue. The beefcake heroes look absurd, but they felt like parody even back in the day.

Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Bad Dudes (Switch) image

The port also improves some things. There are no new difficulty settings I could find, but you're able to press a button any time you wish to add a credit, so that you're essentially on freeplay. If you want to challenge yourself, just refuse to add more credits. You also can adjust the screen size so it fills a typical HDTV or so it reflects what I believe was the original aspect ratio used on old cabinets. Then there are filters, allowing you to modify to include scanlines, a composite view, RGB, S-Video and even blurry VHS. These are all nice touches, but unless you're super in love with the old school look and want to replicate it, the default setting is probably most attractive and enjoyable.

At the end of the day, you are either the sort of player who gets behind the notion of using your bulging biceps and jump kicks to save a fictional president... or you're not. If you fondly look back on the arcade glory days, you can download Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Bad Dudes vs. Dragonninja for probably not a whole lot more money than it would cost you if you were standing at an old arcade cabinet, feeding it quarters. And then you can play through again and again, or with a friend, in your apartment or on the go. It's hard to complain about that!


honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (October 31, 2018)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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Masters posted November 01, 2018:

Good review. Coincidentally, I just played and beat this game on a borrowed emulator system, Sumosys. You're so right -- the regular enemies are easy, but the bosses are not. I found it to still be a fun romp, and that's coming from someone with very little in the way of emotional attachment to it. I may have played it once or twice in the arcades when it was a thing.
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honestgamer posted November 01, 2018:

Thanks for reading, and I'm glad you enjoyed the review. I wrote it in a hurry, admittedly, but there wasn't a whole lot to say about the game. Like you said, it's a fun enough little romp. I figure anyone who grew up having the sort of experience that would prompt them to drop a quarter or two back in the day will probably find something to like, but there are all sorts of modern players for whom such an idea is outlandish. I'm not sure they'll care WHAT happens to President Ronnie!
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Masters posted November 01, 2018:

How much did the game cost? And what other games are in this Johnny Turbo series?
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honestgamer posted November 01, 2018:

All of the games in the series are $7.99 apiece (typical for arcade classics on Switch, including the huge variety of Psikyo games and the SEGA Ages series, as well as over 100 games now from Hamster), with the exception of "Heavy Burger," which is a new mashup featuring shooting action "in" the arcade worlds of old Data East games. The list of actual retro titles from the series thus far is:

Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Bad Dudes
Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Express Raider
Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Gate Of Doom
Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Joe and Mac - Caveman Ninja
Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Nitro Ball
Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Shoot Out
Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Sly Spy
Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Super Burger Time
Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Two Crude
Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Wizard Fire

As possible, I'm snagging virtually every arcade title to hit the platform. I just haven't been reviewing a lot of what I've bought.
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Masters posted November 01, 2018:

Wait, did you see that there are over 100 games available from Hamster? The hell...! I better look into this.
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honestgamer posted November 01, 2018:

They are approaching 100 ACA NeoGeo titles, and they have published around 25 Arcade Archives titles (including some from Nintendo). Nintendo stuff aside, most of that stuff is also available on PlayStation 4. But to me, Switch feels like a better place to play it. If you want to see what all is available, the "A" listings for Nintendo Switch here on this site are a great starting point, since all of Hamster's stuff for the system starts with that letter. Most weeks, Hamster releases two new games: one NeoGeo title and one general arcade offering.
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honestgamer posted November 01, 2018:

Oh, it also looks like the following two games are coming in the next week or so:

Johnny Turbo's Arcade: night Slashers
Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Break Thru

So the nostalgia train is still going...

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