Game: "Bionic Commando Rearmed"
System: Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Published by: Capcom

Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Posted: 8/19/2008

Review: Capcom is trying to revive the Bionic Commando franchise with a new game coming out in the near future. I'm reserving my judgment until I can actually play it, but at the same time, I don't see how they could make it much better than their 2.5D remake of the original.

BCR runs you through the events of the NES Bionic Commando with, among other things, a story that's fleshed out better than with just a handful of clumsily translated lines from nondescript talking heads. In keeping with the original, the developers also decided to stick with the US version of the story, wherein the bad guys are the Imperial “Badds” rather than the Nazis. Initially, I was disappointed with this decision to toss the censored story elements that Nintendo USA thought would offend our delicate sensibilities (who would ever believe that Nazis could be bad guys?), but the developers made the concept work, and then some.

They could've easily changed everything about the game and made some completely different that may have been alright, which has been the case for a lot of remakes. Instead, the developers set out to make this game totally old school, and let me tell you, this game is so old school it hurts! But it's the good kind of pain. Fans of the original game will recognize a lot of same architecture and level layout from Bionic Commando, albeit with a lot more detail. You'll even spot a few memorable icons from the NES game drawn onto the walls. Will the younger generation understand the significance of an 8-bit ball and chain drawn onto the background in the construction zone? I doubt it, but it's a great nod to those of us in the know.

The weapons are fairly similar, too, but they've been overhauled to be a bit more useful. For me, weapon collection in the original was over as soon as I got the rocket launcher. In BCR, however, each weapon has been designed to damage specific targets more than others (ballistic weapons for humans, beam weapons for robots, explosives for everyone). Plus, some of the newer/reimagined weapons have useful firing methods, such as the the vector cannon firing shots that bounce all over the screen, and the shotgun providing just enough kick to start you swinging even when you're hanging perfectly still.

For my money, though, one of the best parts of this remake is the boss fight. Each boss fight has been completely reworked from the original. The platoon of soldiers and the chirping “pi pi pi” robot remain, but the remaining encounters have been filled out with new bosses that fit in nicely with the general tone of the game. Even better, each battle begins with an oft comically self-aware exchange of words between the boss and our hero.

The game also includes some new multiplayer modes that let you battle each other or team up to tackle the game's campaign mode. The battle mode was entertaining, but I more fun with the co-op. You start out with your partner on the same screen, and the view pulls back as you move further apart. Once you reach a certain point, the view shifts to split screen, with each player left up to his own devices. It works really well, especially given that when one player dies, he respawns next to the other player (minus one life), and if at least one of you can reach a doorway, the other players will automatically be called in as well. At the same time, though, I didn't have much chance to play with co-op before my partner gave up completely.

And that's what I hear as the biggest complaint about this game: too difficult. I'll concede that the game does require some expert timing (especially during some of the downright diabolical challenge room scenarios), but I found it to be quite a bit easier than the original Bionic Commando. To begin with, the commando in question falls much slower than he used to, which makes aerial maneuvers far easier. Plus, you can do a few more useful maneuvers that would've been quite handy, had they been in the original. And you can see just how much easier it is because the levels are nearly identical to the ones in the NES game. I guess what I'm saying is that if you think Bionic Commando Reloaded is too hard, you should avoid Bionic Commando like the plague.

In case I haven't made this abundantly clear, I love this game. It's what every remake should be: an update to the graphic and gameplay elements that still manages to capture that same old school style that made the original game popular in the first place. Even the music is old school, with each of the original 8-bit songs remixed with guitar work and such. Hell, you can even find the occasional utterance of classic lines like “get the heck out of here, you nerd!” And people aren't playing this game because they think it's hard? Bah! Those people just plain suck. It's not even a matter of opinion, they are simply terrible people, and you would do well not to associate with them.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Aug 19th, 2008, 06:30 AM
Here's one 8-bit nerd thrilled at this game. It is, indeed, a good kind of pain - the retro bionic kind.
Forum Virgin
Aug 19th, 2008, 10:47 AM
well welcome to the sad sad future we're in. The average difficulty of the average game today is beyond easy. If people think this is tough or other ones today are, go give Blaster Master, Any of the ORIGINAL Ninja Gaiden's a try. And I feel like an 80 year old man when I complain about it, DAMN WHIPPERSNAPPERS with their infinite lives, no secret codes and websites with cheat codes on it!!!
Nexus 7 Prototype
Aug 19th, 2008, 04:45 PM
This game is totally tits. The only complaint I have with it is that it doesn't have the original 8-bit game as an unlockable.
Aug 19th, 2008, 06:03 PM
Oh, man. It's so good to see Bionic Commando again.
Official Punching Bag
Aug 20th, 2008, 12:18 AM
Why does he look like a red haired Duke Nukem? Or is that just me?
Aug 21st, 2008, 07:35 AM
They didn't fix the main flaw in the original though, namely the lack of a jump button. I'm not talking "crazy super mario" jumping, I'm talking "let me get over the barrel and sandbags without embarrassing myself" jumping. Quite frankly, that's the only thing that made the original (and this remake) hard. Imho the game wasn't hard, it was just poorly designed in this respect. The bionic arm is hard to work but that would have been ok if you didn't have to use the arm for any kind of movement. You can't simply jump down a platform, you have to walk off the end to go down and often use your stupid arm to catch yourself before you hit water.

I'm not a big fan of bionic commando myself. I really think it's one of the few capcom franchises that need to remain buried. Now a new ghouls and ghosts, that's where it's at. Aurthor might be in hard games, but at least he's not some kind of non-jumping freak!
Funky Dynamite
Aug 21st, 2008, 12:17 PM
To get around low obstacles, you fire the arm diagonally into the ceiling and swing past. You don't even need to clear the obstacle vertically.

And while I admit I would like to have seen some way for you to drop down a platform by just attaching the arm and lowering yourself, I think it still works. In the original, pulling off a move like that would've been pure hell thanks to you dropping like a stone every time you walked off an edge, but in adding loft to your falling, they've allowed you to pull off moves like that, as well as even more complex swinging and jumping.

Incidentally, if you'd like to see a good game that has both arm-swinging and jumping, you should check out Ninja Five-0 for the GBA.

Also, they released a new GnG game for the PSP a few years back. I let our own Mockery try it, and I believe he found it to be even more brutal than the original (though still an excellent game).
Oozes machismo
Aug 21st, 2008, 08:55 PM
Bionic Commando: Rearmed is easily the best original content yet released for XBLA. The original was way more brutal, I loved the original GameBoy port, and this one does them both justice and then some. Great review Doc.
A Play On Words
Aug 25th, 2008, 03:13 AM
Oh hell yeah this game was awesome. I remember beating the original on my friend's NES. I love how they redid bosses, taking out a power core for a boss was probably the most stupid part of the original. I'm surprised they didn't change the enemy territory encounters going from each area little bit more, it's get's kind of old after you did them at least 3 times.

I also liked how the very last level is a huge test for your swinging skills, very frustrating, but satisfying once you get it down.
Hitler's Canoe!
Aug 28th, 2008, 08:16 AM
I tried the demo on PSN. It's a cool little game - particularly the music. Really excellent sound track. I like the little swinging puzzles too.