Bionic Commando - Nintendo NES
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Bionic Commando

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Release year: 1987 | Players: 1 player | Developed by Capcom

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In 1988, Capcom released a 2D side-scrolling action-adventure video game called Bionic Commando (AKA Top Secret: Hitler’s Revival -トップシークレット ヒットラーの復活 in Japan) which became a historic icon in the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) library. It is the successor of the 1987 arcade game with the same name, originally released as Top Secret in Japan.

Bionic Commando Cover Box

Bionic Commando Cover (NES)

The game portrays a classic storyline of a hero putting an end to evildoers: Ladd Spencer in a mission to rescue his fellow commando, Super Joe, while stopping the evil plans of Killt, the hawkish leader of the evil empire.

Though generally the same with other platform games at the time, Bionic Commando features a game twist in which Spencer is not allowed to jump; he can only cross gaps or climb ledges using his bionic arm. The bionic arm is what made the game stand out among other retro platformers.

Bionic Commando is a one-player game in which a helicopter transports Ladd Spencer to various destinations. In each area, there are puzzles and strategic segments that will help you complete your quest. You begin your mission with a normal gun and your bionic arm. As the game progresses, weapon upgrades are attained.

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The controls of the game are similar to that of the arcade version. There is a “bionic reach” button to extend the arm, an 8-way joystick, and a fire button.

Each stage is designed to make use of Spencer’s bionic arm. This new mechanic certainly gives players a unique experience. The way your character latches, swings, releases, and then latches again from platform to platform looks fun and incredible.

Fortunately, unlike the arcade version, Bionic Commando’s control lag is much shorter. The animations of the swinging and grappling movement have precise timing and graceful tempo. The graphics of the game are also vibrant and colorful, accompanied by a great music soundtrack and sound effects.

There are, however, a couple of problems in this version. One is that some of the dialogue text are poorly translated. Second, some mission stages require a certain weapon. If you selected the wrong weapon, you will possibly end up stuck at the beginning of the stage or you will be forced to restart the game. Despite this, the game’s presentation is superb, making it stand out among other platformers of its generation.

Bionic Commando game has been ported to NES (this version), Game Boy and Virtual Console.