Bionic Commando
Box Shot
Bionic Commando
Platform: NES
Publisher: Capcom
Designer: Capcom
Genre: Action
Players: 1
Published Date 1988
Reviewed by: Kurt Kalata

There are few games held with such reverence by a hardcore NES gamer as Bionic Commando. Sure, ask any most any casual video game player about their fave NES game, and the answer would likely be Zelda, or Super Mario Bros. 3. But the ones that have been around...they know abut Bionic Commando. Rarely has an action title been so unique and innovative, but still manages to be one helluva adventure.

The title of this game alludes to the fact that this was meant to be a sequel of sorts to the Capcom game "Commando". It barely shows through: other than the fact that the character you're trying to rescue is Super Joe and the overhead bonus stages, this game is basically entirely different. It also bears little relation to the arcade game it was based on, much like Strider.

As mentioned before, Super Joe has been kidnapped, and you're up for duty to save him. Only you're special. See, you have this bionic arm that will allow you hand on ceilings, swing on ledges, and grapple items. You also can't jump. This is one of the most novel approaches I've ever seen in an action game and turns out to be quite cool. It may take awhile to get used to swinging your way across chasms rather than leaping, but once you do, it'll turn out to be a lot more fun. Hey, think Tarzan.

In addition to Super Joe being kidnapped it turns out that an evil group known as the "Badds" are looking into a long dead project known as "Albatross". Later in the game, you learn that this is an incredible fighting machien, but it can't be completed. See, the person with the knowledge on how to build Albatross is dead. The Badds want to resurrect him and have him create this badass dead machine for them. Although this person is known as Master D in the game, its quite obvious by the portrait that this is Adolf Hitler. It's a cool storyline when you look into it: someone is trying to bring Hitler back from the dead to help build a machine that could produce something a million times worse than the Holocaust. Scary, indeed.

Okay, I know I gave away pretty much the entire plot right there, but that's just one of the many things that adds to the game. It's not entirely straightforward and linear. You manuever around the map in helicopter, where you can then descend into the levels. There are enemy trucks, which you fight in an overheard battle when you collide with them. These levels are extremely easy and unvaried (there are only two different terrains) but are fun nonetheless and are great for getting continues. Plus its fun to swing your bionic arm and deflect bullets.

Basically the game as being divided into three sections: you must beat all of the levels in that section before your helicopter can move to the next. You can beat these levels in the given section in any order, and each level conquered earns you another item. There are four different communicators required in different areas to get clues and open doors. There are also various cool weapons and armor that will help you on your adventure. There are some areas that require various items to go on...I'm not sure if this is mentioned in the instruction booklet, but if you press "Select", "A", and "B" at the same time, you'll exit the level. Since you don't know what communicator to bring into each level, this will allow you to bring the right one. Still, you've got to start the level over. It would be nice if you knew what to bring before you started each level, so you wouldn't be stuck with a boss door that won't open and you have the repeat the level. This is relatively minor quibble though.

You start out as weak as a blind, deaf cat with four broken legs: a wimpy gun and no life meter. By killing enemies, you get bullets. When enough bullets are collected, you earn an extension to your life meter, so you can take more hits. Along the way you'll also get other weapons with various characteristics, like machine guns and bazookas. The game also has areas called "neutral zones" that are simply places to get information and new items (and firing is not allowed.)

The graphics in the game aren't particularly stunning, but they are very colorful and well-animated. Each of the levels has their own distinct look, whether it be a normal, linear cave level, a sprawling sewer, or an indoor labrinyth. The sound effects are generally good, and the bionic arm sounds pretty cool. All of the music in the game is excellent, whether it's the military sound of the first level, or the mood generating tunes of other levels. The bionic arm controls almost perfectly, in my opinion; simply pressing the "A" button shoots it diaganolly up in the direction you are facing, but it can be fired directly up or side-to-side. Swinging, retracting, and letting go of ledges with your arm requires practice, but is all very simple once you get used to it. Some levels require absolute mastery of these skills, and the game can get a bit annoying if you can't use them.

Bionic Commando has it all: a good adventure, intriguing story, excellent action, decent graphics, and an innovative concept that seems to make this game stick out in everyone's mind. All in all, one of the best NES games out there. Truly deserving of its classic status.


Reviewed By: Matt Hull
When you compare this game to its predecessor Commando, you may come up with the best sequal of all time!! This game has ALL of the elements from Commando and TONS and TONS of new additions. You have been sent behind enemy lines to rescue Super Joe. You must also figure out the mysterious plot that's brewing.

There are TONS of stages. Some are action and some are "neutral" levels that you must hold your fire in. A few times, you will be attacked in a neutral zone! Anyway, this is a game that you must get involved in before you really appreciate the great game that it is. You are equipped with a bionic arm which you can attach to walls, boulders, etc... It's easy to learn the functions of the bionic arm but TOUGH to master. There are TONS of different weapons, special items that protect you, and transmitters that you can contact your allies with. There are "communicator" rooms in each level where you must contact you friends. You can also intercept enemy messages to find out what they are up to!

The graphics and music in Bionic Commando are AWESOME!! Folks, this is a "1988" NES game which plays like a game made in the early 90's!! I've heard that Tim Follin did the music for this game.(the great C64 composer who also was involved with composing NES music) Am I right? The music is sensationanl. The play control is fantasic. BC is not just a running and shooting game, you MUST master the functions of your bionic arm or you will be defeated. This game is challenging the WHOLE way through but the last three stages(Areas 10, 11, and 12) are EXTREMELY tough! I really got into the plot of this game. You must force the enemy to talk, search for secret underground areas, and will even meet up with one of the most feared and hated men from WW2.(you must play the game to find out who I'm talking about!)

You want a bad bad guy? You've got one in Bionic Commando.(actually two including that commander Killt) This game is VERY fun and has lasting challenge. There's a ton of areas to explore and lots of action. This game is catagorized as an adventure game even though it has LOTS of action too. This is a MUSTPLAY NES game!!