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Bionic Commando (NES) artwork

Bionic Commando (NES) review


"Wow, what an innovative game. Bionic Commando, released as a sequel to Commando way back in the early '90's, is a lot different, and a lot better than its predeccesor. Commando was basically a vertically scrolling shooter like Ikari Warriors. Bionic Commando is a horizontally scrolling action/adventure game where non-linear game play reigns. And even the game play is a lot different, because Bionic Commando may be the only game in the genre for NES where you are unable to jump!! Heck, it may be ..."



Wow, what an innovative game. Bionic Commando, released as a sequel to Commando way back in the early '90's, is a lot different, and a lot better than its predeccesor. Commando was basically a vertically scrolling shooter like Ikari Warriors. Bionic Commando is a horizontally scrolling action/adventure game where non-linear game play reigns. And even the game play is a lot different, because Bionic Commando may be the only game in the genre for NES where you are unable to jump!! Heck, it may be one of the few video games of all time in which you cannot jump, but it also means that the game is very innovative, and in this case it is also very fun!

Yep, for some unknown reason (maybe he has some disorder or something) your commando is unable to jump and must use his bionic arm to swing from place to place. It's this innovative game play that makes Bionic Commando a top quality game. I really enjoyed playing this game, and I do not think that it has much flaws at all. It was a really fun game that I enjoyed playing immensely. And the fact that you had to use a swinging arm to move around instead of just jumping around added a nice degree of challenge to the overall game play.

The game is definitely far different than its predecessor. For the twelve of you that remember the original Commando, it was a vertically scrolling shooting game that had you in the place of a soldier who ran around shooting enemies, ala Ikari Warriors. Well, this game is far different. This is a horizontally scrolling game which has you in the place of a soldier who must go around killing enemies while collecting information and using his bionic arm to swing from place to place. It is definitely a totally different game than the original, but it is still very fun to play, even more fun to play than the original Commando!

The story line to the game is pretty unique and I really like how it tied in with the original Commando. The hero from the original Commando, Super Joe, has been captured, and it is up to a new hero, a man known only as ''The Captain'', to save Super Joe from the evil corporation. The name of the corporation is the Albatross Corporation, and you will hear that name a lot throughout the game, because they are doing everything from trying to kill Super Joe to trying to make a new weapon. The plot is very cool, and I really like the plot twist at the end which has you facing off against a very historical opponent.

The variety in the backgrounds was really quite good. One stage had you in a scenic alps stage with beautifully drawn mountains. Another stage had you in a warehouse with no background but a blue screen, but the warehouse was designed very nicely. The variety of backgrounds in the game were solid, and I really did appreciate the time and effort Capcom put into making the game look as good as it could possibly look. Some of the backgrounds were a little too plain, but when you get a variety of backgrounds like the variety featured in this game, then you do not worry about it too much, because chances are you will find a lot of backgrounds in the game you like. And none of them were really distracting, at all.

The enemies had a good look to them, and the animators did a good job in designing them. I liked the variety of enemy designs in the game a lot, although I do have a small complaint about them. You see, while I did like the look of a lot of the enemies in the game, some of them struck me as a little odd. And the boss designs could have been a little better. There are not many bosses at all, but most of them are just huge soldiers that look a lot like the actual enemy soldiers found in the various stages of the game. This was disappointing, but I will live with it because some of the boss designs were pretty cool.

The character designs in the game are awesome, I especially like the look of the main character in the game. He had a green suit on with the bionic arm that extended out of him, it went back and forth relatively smooth. I really liked the design of some of the lesser characters in the game, for instance your boss has this nice look to him, he really comes across well as a bad ass boss type that he is portrayed to be. The animation in the game is fantastic, you would think that with everything going on that there would be some slowdown and other graphical problems featured, but I am happy to say that none of that garbage is featured, at all.

The ''first'' stage music (where you're in the warehouse) still stands out to me as some of the best music ever. Pretty much every tune in the game is good with the exception being some of the boss music. I really liked the variety of music in the game, and the music themes found in some of the stages definitely fit the feeling of the stages perfectly. And as some of you may know, I have always been a big fan of music that fits the feeling of the game. So, I am a pretty big fan of the music in this game. And that especially includes the music in the first stage, talk about awesome stuff.

The sound effects are top-notch, as well. I really liked the sound effects in this game, even though some of them could have sounded a little bit better. The sounds of the main character dying could have come off a bit better. For instance, let's say the main character falls into the water and dies. The game doesn't do much, but I would have liked it if a sound of water splashing was included, how cool would that have been? However, I am not about to complain about the stuff that was not featured, instead I will marvel about what was featured, and the sound effects featured in this game were definitely pretty cool.

The control in the game is definitely pretty good but it could have been a little bit better. However, I commend Capcom for making the control rather simple and painless. You move around with the directional pad and can use the buttons to move the bionic arm around. You can move it in radiuses of 45 degrees, so you have a limited movement span at all times. You can kneel to duck enemy fire, but you cannot aim your gun upwards. This can get tough after a while because enemies are sometimes hovering above you and you have to somehow use your bionc arm to get up there, duck to avoid gunshots, and kill them. Oh well, no one ever said it was going to be easy.

Bionic Commando will go down as one of the most innovative games ever. In most action/adventure side scrollers you have an ability to jump. Not so in Bionic Commando. You see, because instead of jumping, you must use a bionic arm to swing from place to place. This is very innovative and adds a new twist to the same old gameplay. Unfortunately sometimes I still try to jump and end up dying :) Still, it's cool. To swing between ledge and ledge, you need to find something to latch onto. You cannot latch onto everything, so find something that your bionic arm attaches to, then swing across. It is not as easy as jumping but it is pretty cool nevertheless.

The stages can be done in any order (or so it seems) but soon you figure out that you have to go to certain places before another. You start off on a map, every time you move a space an enemy moves one space too. When you and the enemy collide in one space, you enter into a vertical shooter like Commando/Ikari Warriors. This is definitely a very cool thing. In this mode you can do a few things, like collecting items and getting experience points. Well, I would not exactly call them experience points, more like life meter additions. Some areas are not occuiped by enemies, these are neutral zones which allow you to rest and talk with fellow soldiers.

You will definitely get a lot of items in this game. You start with your standard rifle and a radio transceiver. As you go on, you'll collect spread guns, a machine gun, a rocket launcher, more transceivers, a potion that refills your life, flares for lighting up dark areas, and protective gear that save you from some enemy fire. One of the more innovative items is the pair of iron boots that let you kick enemies to death if they touch you while you're swinging. There is definitely a nice variety of items to be found in the game, and they each serve their own unique purpose.

You may think that you do not need to complete every area in the game in order to complete the game, but you are wrong. You are very wrong, in fact. You may see that you can go through one straight path and get to the final place, that you do not have to go back and do the other random stages that seem to serve no general purpose. Well, they do serve a purpose. In these stages you will find items that enable you to do stuff in the final few stages of the game. So, make sure to complete every stage you possibly can, which is a total of 18 if you include the opening stage, to get all the items and stuff neccessary to complete the game.

Chances are you will not want to play this game a lot after you first complete it, unless you really like to see the final boss (who is very historical, let me tell you) die over and over again. You will be playing this game for a while, though. This is because the game definitely takes a while to complete. You do not get any continues (to start off with, at least, you can gain some by finding eagles in the vertically scrolling stages) and you only get a limited amount of lives. There is no password system so basically you have to complete the game all at one time, unless you pause it for a few hours and come back, but what's the point of doing that and running up your electricity bill?

Not being able to jump adds a new degree of challenge to the game. The main challenge to this game, however, is completing a lot of the stages in the game. Some of the stages in the game are pretty tough, to say the least. And with the limited amount of lives and continues you get, then there is a problem of completing the game without dying too much. You will probably have to get some major practice in before completing this game, because it is pretty challenging, it would have been challenging even if you were able to jump, so of course the ability of the bionic arm instead of jumping just makes the game that much more challenging.

Bionic Commando is an innovative, challenging, and fun action/adventure side scroller from Capcom that I really enjoyed. This is one of my favorite games ever, and I really had a blast playing it. It does have some minor flaws, like an extremely challenging level of game play, and some problems with the control, but overall I was really impressed how Capcom was able to take a novel idea for a game and turn it into one of the better NES games I have ever played. I think it is well worth a purchase if you like Mega Man and Super Mario type games. Because it is definitely better than your average Mega Man clone.

Rating: 9/10

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Community review by psychopenguin (March 07, 2005)

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