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Title: Bad Dudes
Author:Data East
Rom Player: NESticle
Reviewer: Dr. Boogie

Synopsis: “Are you a bad enough dude?” A question that has undoubtedly plagued mankind for centuries. A question that, with the advent of the game bearing the answer to the question, shall soon be answered.

Your badness as a dude shall be questioned in this conversion of the popular arcade game, for it seems that the president has been kidnapped by ninjas. It should be noted, however, that the arcade game properly identified the president as “president Ronnie,” but I digress. To prove yourself, you must rescue him from the Dragon Ninja, the head ninja of the gang of ninjas. Sadly, it was not until late 1995 that the White House was made fully ninja-proof and the secret service been trained in covert anti-ninja tactics, and up until then, all the branches of the armed services had to entrust their most duty of recovering the president to whomsoever was bad enough to face armies of ninjas. I know what you’re thinking: But what about the bad dudettes? Will they never have their moment in the sun? Oh, they will, but not until the samurai attacks of the late 90’s.

You start off in a generic city-type neighborhood, and will progress through battles on top of a moving semi and through the sewers. Each stage has a high level and a low level that you can jump to in order to avoid/beat ninjas or get powerups. The stages where you are moving, such as the semi stage, have a lower level too, but jumping down to it will significantly reduce your health and then give you plenty of time to jump back up to remedy your mistake. It’s never really explained where you’re going, or how you know to go there, but somehow, you always seem to go where you need to be.

Getting back to the dudes, there are two dudes in question who consider themselves bad enough to beat up the ninjas and rescue the president: Blade and his buddy, Striker. Regretfully, their friends, Turbo, Thunder, and Max Power were settling ninja disputes in other parts of the country. Though the two bad dudes appear, in the actual game, to be very similar, and use the same moves, and have the same voices, you can see a slight difference in their facial structures when you choose which one to use, thus making them two completely separate entities.

To combat the ninja menace, the dudes seem to have a basic understanding of the martial arts, meaning that they can punch furiously and perform a few standard jump kicks and sweeping maneuvers. Plus, you have access to the one of the most coveted secrets in the world of martial arts, second only to the Ancient Chinese Secret: the spinning kick. Unfortunately, they haven’t quite mastered the kick, so it tends to end up with you being plucked out of the air by plucky ninjas. The punching will normally take care of any ninja, combined with the fact that you can push yourself forward if you hold the direction while tapping the punch button. If you’re attacked from behind while dealing with someone in front of you, you can just let loose a backward kick on them. Unfortunately, the kick is slow, and you can see for yourself that you can turn around a punch someone within an instant when no one is in front of you. Still, you have an even more deadly, semi-useful attack at your disposal: the Fire Punch. It seems that simply holding down the punch button will cause your character to start flashing and humming. Then, upon releasing the button, he will make a seemingly regular jab that will make an explosion centered right on your fist when you hit a ninja. I would know this trick myself, had I not quit my karate classes just before the yellow belt/explosions training.

Of course, you can’t have a game about ninjas and dudes that are bad and not have powerups. To that end, all the powerups are delivered to you via a red ninja whom you’ll have to beat to death. Upon his demise, he will dispense either a clock to extend your time limit, a can of generic soda to boost your health and rot you teeth, or two different weapons: a knife or a pair of nunchaku. Both are wielded in such a manner that you wonder whether or not the dudes are really as bad as they had originally seemed. Still, they do more damage than just punching the guys, but if you really want one, go for the nunchakus because they’re faster than the knife.

To settle any waxing curiosity you may have on this matter, the enemies are all ninjas. The majority of the ninjas appear as the same model, but with different colored ninja jumpsuits. The first, and most common, are the blue ninjas, who do nothing more than run right into your fists and, on occasion jab at you. The red ones do the same, only they drop things when you kill them. The white ones are the most treacherous, however. They either throw a ninja star at you, or throw down a collection of flashing caltrops. Avoiding the ninja star is relatively simple, but the caltrops are thrown when you are close to the ninja and, as such, are difficult to avoid. Once they are on the ground, you can jump over them or destroy them somehow with a kick. After those three archetypes, there are a few less common ninjas, including a female one, a ninja with a sword (if you can imagine such a thing), and a tiny, flipping ninja. The sword ninja is dangerous mainly because he leaps over you and tries to drop right onto you rather than going for a more direct assault. The others don’t do anything different from the first two types of ninjas, though the tiny ones are sometimes hard to hit.

The bosses, coincidentally, are also ninjas… Mostly. The very first boss seems to be none other than the famous Russian fire-breather, Karnov. It’s too bad that sales of his game were so bad that he had to turn to a life of ninja-related crime. The other exception is a boss who is meant to fill an important spot in any marital arts movie: the really strong guy that can barely move, but punches hard. Other than those two, the bosses are all ninjas with some special perk to set them aside from typical ninjas, such as the ability to make duplicates of themselves, or being a larger version of a normal ninja type.

Ninjas are supposed to be quiet. To that end, the game producers spent very little time on the music for the game. There are a grand total of three songs for the game, four counting the end-of-the-game song. Having to hear the same songs over and over again will drive you to really hate ninjas and all their kin, which goes to further Data East’s hidden anti-ninja agenda.

The sound effects are even worse, making them unsuitable for both ninjas and bad dudes alike. There are only a handful of unremarkable effects, plus one truly frightening one. Once I had beaten the first stage for the first time, I sat back and watched the dude sort of raise his hands in triumph. What I had not prepared for was that the sound coordinators had decided to try to simulate a human voice, poorly, for a declaration of victory. You see, after he raised his hands, I was subjected to a horrible, demonic roar of the phrase “I’m bad!” that left me confused as to why my fighter sounded like he was channeling Lucifer himself.

Memorable moments aside, the game may keep you entertained for a little while, but if you really want an entertaining ninja-basher, you’d be better off getting the arcade version of the game. The ninjas are less irritating, and you want be terrified of your hero by the end of your journey. Plus, you may just be a badder dude for having done it.

Best Cheats: Extra Lives - At the title screen, press B, A, Down, Up, Down, Up on Controller 2, then press Start on Controller 1.

Game Play: 7
Graphics: 6
Music/Sound: 4
Originality: 5
Overall Rating: 5

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