Retro Gaming: Bionic Commando (Nintendo Entertainment System – 1988)

Bionic Commando is an action-adventure game that was loosely based on the 1987 arcade game of the same name. The protagonist is known as Radd Spencer, a commando equipped with a bionic arm that enables him to grapple ledges in order to traverse over gaps. This is one of the few instances where a jump button was not included in an 8-bit game.

Radd Spencer is sent in to investigate the disappearance of the Federation’s best soldier, Super Joe, after they find out of the Empire’s plans of constructing a weapon known as the Albatross. This premise sends our hero through 19 areas throughout the game. However, certain areas are locked until you can locate specific weapons to access the area.

The game begins at a stage selection map where you can decide which areas to tackle in any sequence (although it is mostly a linear progression). From there, you can load-out your weapon selection before beginning the level, but some weapons are better than others in certain areas so you need to choose wisely. There are two level types to Bionic Commando. The first is a side-scrolling action-adventure game filled with many objectives: various enemies to eliminate, platforming areas that require your grappling hook to swing across, communications terminals that need to be hacked in order to obtain useful information, and level bosses that incorporate a certain strategy to defeat. The second level type is a top down view, similar to the original Commando game. These levels require you to get from point A to point B as you defeat hordes of enemies and dodge incoming fire to reach your goal.

Bionic Commando was remade just recently for the XBLA and PSN, and while the remake was great, the original is the one to play to fully experience the gamelay, along with its engaging music and cutscenes. What’s interesting is that the Japanese version of the game included a revived Adolf Hitler as one of the main villains, but was renamed “Master-D” in the American release. However, the Hitler graphics were never changed, and a “gory” cutscene of his face exploding was shown. An image that was unheard of during the NES era. I was certainly surprised when I viewed this scene after playing it for the first time during my younger years.

Bionic Commando was a fantastic game during the 8-bit era. It’s a rare gem and true classic of old-school gaming…especially after you get used to not being able to jump.

Do you remember playing Bionic Commando for the NES? If so, comment and share your memories with us about the game!

Top 10 NES Soundtracks

NES…the console that truly redefined gaming.  The NES had some true classics that will remain in many people’s memories.  However, I’ve always been one who’s paid attention to game soundtracks when I played my games since I was a little kid.  The games listed below are distinguished by having some of the best music in the NES’s history.  With well over 700 titles, this was not an easy list to compile, but these are my personal favorites from the NES library (not listed in any particular order).

 

1. Batman

Batman was not only an amazing game for the NES, but certainly had one of the best soundtracks as well.  Sunsoft usually pushed out excellent soundtracks for their games (Blaster Master had a really good one) but with Batman, they absolutely nailed it.  The moment you start the game, you’ll hear one of the coolest opening level songs that really gets you pumped for the rest of the game.  As you’ll progress through the game, every song will literally stick in your head…and that’s a good thing.

 

2. Bionic Commando

Bionic Commando was a redefining moment in side-scrollers.  Instead of having the ability to jump (like most games did for platforming back in the day), you were limited to only using your trusty grappling hook.  It’s soundtrack is one that’ll stick with me, no question.  Again, from the first level alone, you know you’re in for an all-around new experience.

 

3. Contra

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start…the infamous Konami Code.  Contra was a tough-as-nails, side-scolling shooter that demanded reflexes since you could die in a single hit.  Entering that Konami Code was typically the way most people beat the game (I beat it the old fashion way though).  Regardless though, Contra was not only an addictive game for it’s relentless difficulty, but the soundtrack was intense!  The music alone was a driving factor as to why I would replay Contra over and over…no matter how hard the game was.

 

4. Ninja Gaiden 2

Ninja Gaiden is notorious for it’s insane difficulty…but was by far the most rewarding game I’ve played on the NES.  The gameplay was addictive, the story was excellent and the soundtrack was incredible.  No matter how tough and cheap the difficulty ramped up to be, the story and soundtrack were motivating factors to keep playing so that you could hear the next awesome song, as well as keep unveiling the cinematic story (considering that NES games never really had cinematics).

 

5. Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest

Despite what some Castlevania fans may feel about Simon’s Quest, there was no denying it’s epic soundtrack.  It was the first time we were introduced to the “Bloody Tears” track which only evolved over time with most iterations of the franchise.  Sure, Simon’s Quest had some serious pacing issues thanks to poor English translation, but it was still fun to play just to hear the music!

 

6. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!

Punch-Out didn’t have the most elaborate soundtrack but the main theme that played throughout your fights was just plain awesome.  That song would get me pumped for the fight and ready to climb that ladder to takedown that pre-ear ripping Mike Tyson.

 

7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game

TMNT II was a massive improvement over the abysmal first outing on the NES.  Konami (Ultra Games at the time) decided to make a port of the widely popular arcade game and add an extra level into the NES version.  The music was largely similar to the arcade version but was obviously downgraded for to tailor the NES’s limitations…but that wasn’t a bad thing by any means.  This soundtrack was just a plain awesome score to listen to while taking out the Footclan all day long.

 

8. Battletoads

Battletoads was one of the most difficult games ever made during the NES era…but that doesn’t mean it didn’t have an amazing soundtrack.  Similar to Contra and Ninja Gaiden, no matter how hard the game was, the music was a motivating factor alone for me to keep trying to beat the game.  Back then, there was no YouTube to listen in on in-game soundtracks that people post so you had work hard to see what was ahead.  Also, if any of you readers beat this game in co-op…major kudos to you.

 

9. Mega Man 3

Choosing one Mega Man game out of the six released for the NES was a tough choice.  However, after listening to all the soundtracks, Mega Man 3 stood out the most for me.  From the stage select to the character’s stage themes, this is the one I found to have the best music out the first six installments.

 

10. Super Mario Bros. 3

Like you readers didn’t see this coming…Super Mario Bros. 3 is known to many as the greatest Mario game of all time.  It also has the best soundtrack out of the Mario trilogy that was available on the NES.  Every song was memorable and you couldn’t help but hum or whistle the music to the level you were playing.

 

What are your thoughts?  Comment below!