Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bionic Commando

Will this blast from the past make as much of an impression today as it did 20 years ago? Read all the different ways I wrote “no, it didn’t” in this review

And here we are reviewing another Capcom game. I like Capcom, unlike the entire gaming community these days. Could like it better if they had their shit together and actually spent time to make sure that the games of popular franchises they make are a reliable product for the established fans. And Bionic Commando got shafted in that regard.

Unlike Devil May Cry, I don’t particularly like this game series that much but I reckon it deserves a little background information since it´s one of those cult classics that someone is always going to talk about.

The original Bionic Commando was one of the great games of the Nintendo era, mostly because the guys making the game were thinking outside the box. Simply put, Bionic Commando was a side scrolling 2D action platformer where you couldn´t jump.

And apparently that was awesome.

And the reason why that was awesome it’s because that instead of jumping, you used a robot arm to shoot a hook and swing yourself throughout the levels while shooting Nazi impersonators and blowing Hitler’s head off.

     I’m sure the game is more exciting in motion
I’ve never played the original version myself so aside from what I just said, I can’t really talk much about it but I did buy the remake of it, Bionic Commando Rearmed.

Bionic Rearmed is essentially the same game as the original NES game but with updated graphics (2.5d Style), more robot arm moves, weapons, bosses, multiplayer and more overall content. It also has the craziest dialogue ever. The game doesn’t take itself seriously for a single minute, constantly making fun of its characters and plot which is a breath of fresh air in the middle of all the GRIMDARK storylines that every action game regurgitates nowadays. It’s probably one of the best Xbox live and PSN games available and it sold like no tomorrow for a game of its format.

The game by the way, was made by a Swedish game company called GRIN in conjunction with Capcom. Since Rearmed surpassed expectations, they decided to let the development of the Next Gen game to them.  In retrospect, that was probably a shitty decision from Capcom’s part.

Plot: Remember the part where I mentioned that Rearmed having a comedic approach with the story and making fun of itself for shits and giggles? 

None of that for Bionic Commando though, the plot couldn’t be more SERIOUS BUSINESS if it tried. Government conspiracies, missing family members, tension between comrades, you name it, everything for generic dramatic effect. You can see that they’re trying too hard at the very beginning of the game when it turns out that the reward for Nathan Spencer after saving the world from Super Nazis was a death penalty and mass hatred for anyone who used Bionic members. Of course!

So, after processing that little piece of nonsensical information, you’ll notice the fact that Nathan Spencer, who likes to use the word “fuck” a lot, is a dick of massive proportions. He’s probably the most unlikable main character I’ve seen in a video game regardless of his shitty situation. It is just impossible to care about this guy.


 Super Joe: That’s how you react after I saved you from Death Row?


 Super Joe: Hey I’ve come around, I just helped you didn’t I?


Super Joe: What the hell do you like then?


Mag: I´m the only slightly sympathetic character in this entire game so surely nothing remotely fatal will ever come to pass and I’ll surely stick around for every sequel that this game won’t have.

All in all the plot progression is pretty uneventful with “mysterious characters” appearing and helping Nathan from time to time  and some idiotic character interaction since everyone is too fucking pissed and busy screaming at each other all the time to realize that they’re being used by the obvious villain-in-disguise in the game (Hint: He has Super in his name). 

And the great twist of this game is so bad….SO BAD…I’m  not even sure what’s the deal about it to this day, it makes absolutely.no.fucking.sense and yet everyone reacts like it all fits together like a charm. It’s fucking surreal; you have to see for yourself, seriously. Hell, this twist alone is enough reason to rent this game, it´s that bad.

Gameplay: This is where it gets tricky. Frankly, I like the swinging mechanic, it´s not automatic movement like in almost all Spider Man games where he shoots his web into fucking clouds and dives like a pro. You actually have to point the arm in whatever´s available in the environment be it a tree branch, broken building or giant steel pipes and shoot at it. When you´re making a full swing, you have to manually release the grip you had with the robot arm and repeat the process. When you get the hang of this and manage to make a series of difficult stunts, it gets really rewarding. Grabbing and tossing cars, random debris at giant mechs or tossing people at other people is also lots of fun. 

The 3rd person shooting however, is so damn simplistic to the point of boredom, if you’re like me, you’ll just use weapons whenever you’re forced to like in sniper areas or boss encounters, it´s much more fun using the arm’s abilities to wreck shit up. 

And you’ll be fighting a lot of generic soldiers and mechs, the game is very formulaic in this sense, swing from point A to point B and kill whatever group is in front of you and repeat. There´s barely any bosses with only 3 of them and no final boss. It feels unfinished and lacking.
 I was going to throw a lame free fall crack when I noticed that the cross roads down below look suspiciously like a vagina

Graphics: Don’t really have any complaints in this department, they look damn good for a multiplatform game, the scope and size of the sceneries are big enough to allow proper air movement for the player and the visual effects that pop up when you´re swinging at mach 5 speed makes you want to move even faster. The actual character and robot design ranges from mildly interesting to pretty dull. Nathan Spencer looks nothing like the update model of Rearmed and has Cuban cigars for hair. That’s about as interesting as he gets.

In the enemy side, besides the mechanized enemies and sceneries, which look pretty cool, everything else is what you’d expect from a regular town. At least from a town that got nuked.

One of the most common after-effects of a nuclear explosion is abundance of vegetation inside skyscrapers

Conclusion: When this game was in production, Capcom stressed about the Bionic Arm mechanic to be the most awesome thing in existence and the perfect progression of a 2D mechanic in a 3D environment. In a way I agree with this, they nailed it completely and it´s very entertaining. Everything else though, is pretty disappointing:  The serious and bland storyline, unlikable characters, lack of bosses and boring third person gameplay. It seems to me that GRIN should’ve focused much more on the entire game after they perfected the swinging mechanics. I frankly can’t really recommend a buy, even with the multiplayer included. Maybe if you have friends playing it as well.
Too bad the game sold like 20 copies and GRIN shut down shortly after this debacle. They were working on Final Fantasy Spin off too. What were the odds of that?


  1. I remember Bionic Commando on Nintendo. I always though I was the only person in the world that ever even played it :)

  2. Haha, first I've heard of this game, might have to pick it up for the bionic arm!

  3. This game looks really cool! Can't believe I missed it! X)

  4. I bought this game for 360, and I hated it, never could finish it, I gave up and then sold it for a hot dog.