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Friday, 23 May 2014

Bionic Commando (Capcom, 1987/1988)


Developed for the arcades by Capcom Co., Ltd., and released originally in Japan as "Top Secret" in 1987.

Conversions for the home computers MOSTLY by Software Creations, and released through Go! in 1988.

Commodore Amiga and Atari ST conversions by:
Coding - David J. Broadhurst
Music - Timothy and Mike Follin
Graphics - Andrew Threlfall

Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum conversions by:
Coding - Mike Follin
Music - Timothy Follin
Graphics - Andrew Threlfall

The European Commodore 64 conversion by:
Coding - Stephen Ruddy
Music - Timothy Follin
Graphics - Andrew Threlfall

Conversions for the IBM-PC compatibles and the US version for the Commodore 64 programmed by
Pacific Dataworks International, and released by Capcom in 1988.

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INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS

When you're a young gamer, and have your favourite games, you have a tendency to disregard all the other versions of the game in existence, regardless of whether you have even tried them out or not. Since the first time I ever tried out the European version of Bionic Commando on the C64, I had for long been a bit biased towards it, even if I never got very far in it without cheats. A considerable number of years later, I found out that it was a conversion from an arcade game, which, to be honest, was a disappointment when I first tried it out. Of course, the Nintendo version of Bionic Commando was played by my Nintendo-owning friends, who thought it was the superior version. Well, I have to admit after all these years, that it really is the better game, but there's the thing: it's not the same game.

Here in Europe, and as far as I know, in North America as well, the two games we know as Bionic Commando had always been Bionic Commando, before the internet came into our lives and educated us. The original arcade game was released in Japan as "Top Secret" by Capcom, and translated to "Bionic Commando" for the rest of the world, mostly due to its very loose connection with Capcom's earlier game, Commando, originally titled "Wolf of the Battlefield" in Japanese. Naturally, this game has the first right to be converted to home computers and bear the official non-Japanese title. Although the original Commando would receive its proper sequel in the form of "Mercs" (Senjo no Okami 2) a year later, Capcom managed to make a confusing detour on the Nintendo systems with "Hitler no Fukkatsu: Top Secret", translated for the rest of the world as "Bionic Commando" - again. To avoid the confusion, Capcom could have given the translated version a subtitle, but the Nintendo worldwide marketing department works in mysterious ways. More about that later.

MobyGames users have rated the arcade game with a 2.8 out of 5.0 with as many as four votes; the European C64 version has been given a fairly good 7.8 with 117 votes at Lemon64, while the USA version has been given a well-deserved 2.8 from 34 votes; 3 Atarimania users have voted the ST version for a round score of 7.0; 61 LemonAmiga voters have given their version a worrying 4.77; the DOS version has been rated a whopping 2.0 out of 5 by 5 Abandonia users, while the editor has given it an even more descriptive 1.0; CPC Game Reviews have given the Amstrad version a 5 out of 10, and finally, the Spectrum version has a 7.61 with 33 votes at World of Spectrum. Rarely has a game been this widely dividing in opinions, and rarely have I been so intrigued to get to experience the lot.

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DESCRIPTION & REVIEW


There is no point in talking about the Nintendo game at this point, since it's a different game, so this comparison will concentrate on the original arcade game and its home conversions. After I have dealt with this one, I will give you a shorter review of "Hitler no Fukkatsu" and some of its later versions.

So, the original Bionic Commando is basically a multi-directionally scrolling action/platformer, but instead of having the ability to jump, you ascend through the maps with the aid of your bionic arm that makes your man almost resemble Spider-Man. It has been said that this is the first time that this gameplay element has ever been utilised. You shoot and swing your way through 5 levels, fighting against increasingly difficult enemies and a few end-level boss sort of fights, while aiming to restore world peace. You can pick up weapon upgrades and extra lives that drop from the skies with a parachute, but will lose them after you die... which, frankly, will happen quite often. And that is all there is to it, really. Pure arcade action, even if slightly innovative, but certainly at its most difficult.

And that is precisely why this game is so well remembered. It's devilishly difficult, but different and atmospheric enough to keep you trying for years after you first failed at surviving. Also, it helps that the graphics gives the game its own specific style, and the soundtrack is one of the best ones ever created for any arcade game. Of course, it is far from being a perfect arcade game, but it was important enough to make an impact, and get a good number of home conversions, and more importantly, sequels. As it is, my recommendation of the game comes with a difficulty hazard sticker attached to it. The thing is, though... I'm not entirely sure if Bionic Commando can be considered a particularly good game, even if it is a classic.

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LOADING

Although there isn't too much worth comparing here, some of you might be interested in some aspects of this bit, particularly if you're a collector trying to think of which version you should buy. Well, I think it's fairly obvious that if a disk version exists, go for that one, but if you're short on money, then it's more tricky.

The 128k Spectrum version is the only one to load up everything into memory at once, and takes the whole 8 and a half minutes to load up, which is the entire length of the sequentially loaded 48k version as well.

Most other versions need to load every section separately, intro included. Only the European C64 version loads up in nice bunches: the menu and first two levels come first, then the 3rd level, and finally the last two levels. Even the DOS version needs to somehow load the game into memory, which takes about 12 seconds or so.

Here are the full tape loading times, in the sense that these are not sequences, and only show you the lengths of the entire cassette tapes.

C64: 7 minutes 25 seconds (European version)
SPE: 8 minutes 26 seconds
CPC: 9 minutes 15 seconds

I'm not sure if the American C64 version was ever released on tape, but if it was, feel free to leave a comment. Also, I'm not completely sure which versions have and don't have a loading screen, because some tape versions have and some don't, and I just can't be bothered to try each version out just for that reason, so I have included the loading screens to the screenshot compilations in the Graphics section below.

As for the 16-bit versions... well, the Amiga version takes only one disk, while the Atari ST version comes on two disks. If that affects your opinion on the said versions of the game after all the other issues, you might have some serious problems in priorities.

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PLAYABILITY


It truly is quite shocking, how differently all the versions play. Before I can get to the pleasurable part of trying to shock you readers as well, let's take a more in-depth look at how the original arcade version plays.

There are very little in terms of basic movements, as the game has no ladders or anything like that. You can run left and right and kneel down, and you can shoot left or right, either while running or while kneeling down. Any other movement has to be done using the bionic arm, which goes like this: you can hold the joystick in one of five directions to be able to launch the bionic arm, which are up and its diagonals, and the bottom diagonals. When pointing to the bottom diagonals, your bionic arm will shoot straight left or right, depending on your direction. If you happen to collide with a wall when swinging, you will fall back and get up after a couple of seconds, but if you collide with an enemy or a bullet when swinging, you will die, as you would do while walking on a platform. Your enemies are of a wide variety, the easiest ones being basic soldiers, who will die from single shots, and the hardest ones being the nazi officers at the end of the last 3 levels, who will take a few dozen hits before dying. On your way, you can collect new weapons, such as the machine gun and the rocket launcher, plus other items, of which most will only give you additional score, but there is one helpful item drop as well - the hyper arm, which speeds up the bionic arm.

Since Capcom published a couple of conversions by themselves, let's take a look at those first. Considering that Capcom is such a well-respected software house, it might come as a surprise that both their conversions of the arcade Bionic Commando are unbelievably displeasing. At least for the most part.

The American C64 release is almost legendary for being so much worse than the European version, but after extensive playing of all the versions out there, I'm not entirely sure it is as bad as it has made out to be. Some of the gameplay elements didn't make it to the American version, but that doesn't necessarily make it all that bad. What most gamers will most likely notice first is the speed of the game, which is quite slow, but it goes nicely with the slightly gentler enemy spawn rate, and their relative stupidity. However, the gentler spawn rate doesn't help much, when you are only able to either shoot one bullet or use the bionic arm at a time, but not while either one is on the screen. Speaking of the bionic arm: it doesn't swing in this version, and instead pulls you in once it grabs a platform. One element making this game somewhat easier is your ability to control your man when falling. Most of the level maps are slightly different, missing environmental hazards and having additional platforms and such. Most particularly this becomes obvious on the first level, which is much longer than in any other version. So, in the end, it's a fairly different game with a different balance.

I admit I felt very negative towards the American C64 version when I tried it out for the first times some years ago. However, having now tried the DOS version for the first time, I am able to say, to my utter surprise, that the US C64 version is quite playable in comparison. See, the DOS version is a flip-screener. Although it's not exactly unplayable, it does necessitate a completely different approach to how you play the game. On the screen edges, you cannot use your bionic arm for some reason, and sometimes the arm doesn't stretch all the way to the ledge above, even though it has proven to be able to stretch further in other occasions. So, in other words, you need to take very specific routes in order to advance in the maps. Again, the maps are a bit different, but not as much as in the US C64 version. The one differing element that makes the whole deal a lot more painful is the enemies' movement speed, which can be frankly insane, independent of your PC's power. Also, the game doesn't always register whether your bullet has hit an enemy or not, requiring sometimes for you to move to another screen before going back and killing the enemy, although this happens rarely. However, the big soldiers that would normally take 4 hits to kill, take 8 bullets in this version.

Moving on to the conversions by Software Creations, let's take a look at the 16-bits first. To my surprise, both the Amiga and ST version play very similarly, rendering the information based on each version's ratings from Atarimania and LemonAmiga questionable. For my part, I'm more in agreement with the score given by LemonAmiga users, but then again, it did have a lot more votes to make it more valid. Movement is relatively slow, but this wouldn't matter if it didn't constantly rain soldiers, making your life miserable without a cheat mode. You need to scroll the screen manually an inch at a time, making progress very difficult indeed. Collision detection is a bit off in both versions, making your bullets sometimes fly through enemies, and sometimes hitting them even without hitting them, and quite often you can stand in place with an enemy soldier without any sort of damage being done to anybody. The level maps, at least, are close (but not identical) to the original arcade game,  but that's a cold comfort in the light of all the major problems.

For long, my favourite version of the game has been the European C64 version, because of three reasons: the music; the near-constant scrolling style, in which you stay in the middle area of the screen and therefore have the best chance at anticipating all the enemy actions; and the enemy spawn rate, which is still difficult, but fairly decent, when compared to the 16-bits. I have never been able to play this through without a cheat-mode, but at least I have made it to level 3, which is more than I can say from some of the other versions. The levels have been copied from the arcade original very faithfully, and really, the difficulty level is very close to it as well, so I can't really complain too much. It's just a very difficult game.

The last two are fairly similar to each other - the Amstrad and Spectrum conversions. In fact, the only obvious difference between the two is the game speed, which on the Amstrad is quite a bit slower. More surprisingly, the Spectrum version is almost as quick as the 16-bit versions, making it just a bit faster than the European C64 version. Unfortunately, both of these versions utilise similar push-scrolling method that the 16-bits use, in which you need to walk closer to the edge of the screen before the screen scrolls a certain length forwards. Just like in the 16-bit versions, this makes planning forward very difficult, as you are unable to see too much in advance. Also, these versions suffer from not your man not being invincible while swinging. The controls are actually slightly more responsive than in the European C64 version - in fact, they're a bit too responsive. See, in these two versions, you don't need to push the fire button to use the bionic arm - you just push the joystick in any of the five directions you want. This might become bothersome in occasions, where you are  walking to some direction and you need to crouch and fire, and you accidentally use the bionic arm instead, which makes firing your weapon impossible while the bionic arm is on the loose.

Although the Spectrum version is a very good choice, it leaves too much for chance, and makes controlling the man more prone to accident. Of course, every gamer is at best which the said gamer has been subjected to since early age, so for some people, the Spectrum version might be the better choice. Still, the European C64 version is the closest one to the arcade original, and mainly for that reason, earns the top spot under the original. The rest of the list looks a bit odd, to be honest.

1. ARCADE
2. COMMODORE 64 - SOFTWARE PROJECTS
3. ZX SPECTRUM
4. AMSTRAD CPC
5. COMMODORE 64 - CAPCOM
6. COMMODORE AMIGA / ATARI ST
7. DOS

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GRAPHICS

The original arcade version is graphically a very colourful, rich and detailed environment - even up to the point of absurdity, but then again the game is of Japanese origin, so that's understandable in a way. More to the point, the graphics have a lot of depth, giving you more background behind the foremost background graphics that are "attached" to the platforms. To be honest, this game would have felt right at home on a Sega Megadrive/Genesis or a Super Nintendo, when you think of Capcom's other home conversions - the best ones were mostly made for the consoles. Just look at these screenshots.

Screenshots from both Japanese and U.S. arcade versions.


Of course, the game would have probably emerged on those machines as something like "Super Bionic Commando" or "Mega Bionic Commando", so I'm almost glad it didn't. But the 16-bit conversions by Software Creations got as close to the original as anyone could at the time - at least graphically. Even these haven't got it completely right, as the further backgrounds are missing, and are replaced by solid colours, and some of the gameplay elements have been changed into something less complex. It does reserve less memory, and probably is the sole reason for making the 16-bit versions fit into as little space as possible.

Screenshots from the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST versions.


Considering the above, it is rather surprising that the European C64 version comes the closest to the arcade version in terms of level design - all the hazards and platforms (even the moving ones) are in their right place. Perhaps it's not the prettiest, but everything is as correctly placed and sized as you could expect them to be. Even the animations are very good, and in the best sync with the scrolling, which really is the best one around.

Screenshots from the European Commodore 64 version.


In contrast, the American C64 version has more detailed graphics, and particularly the sprites look better than in the European version. Unfortunately, the detail that there is, feels very unpolished and cheap. There are some things in here that didn't for some reason make it into the European version, such as the statue at the end of the game, but that doesn't save a whole lot.

Screenshots from the American Commodore 64 version.


Just like in the American C64 version, the DOS version's graphics are quite angular and patterned, but they do look a bit more polished overall. The illusion of quality is let down by the utter lack of scrolling, but all things considered, I prefer the look of the DOS version over the US C64 version. Unfortunately, I could only get to level 3 in this version, but you should get the idea just fine.

Screenshots from the DOS version.
What I like about the Spectrum graphics is that it's all nicely tied in context, but still manage to be very colourful in its own way. Of course, all the sprites are monochrome, which makes some of the enemies a bit difficult to see in action when the backgrounds are more detailed, like in level 2. In certain places, the colours feel a bit strange, but to be honest, it doesn't differ all that much in concept from the mayhem of colours in the original arcade version. For the most part, the game looks even rather stylish, and some details, such as the great robots in level 3 are surprisingly well done. What is a bit uncomfortable about the Spectrum version, is that the sprites take more space from the slightly smaller action screen than usual, and in that sense, the levels are a bit squeezed as well.

Screenshots from the ZX Spectrum (128k) version.


The Amstrad version's overall look is basically the same as on the Spectrum, but the colours are very strange. You only get a certain amount of colours to be used on each level, so all the informational bits at the bottom of the screen change along with the level colours. Sometimes it works surprisingly well, sometimes it looks very unfitting indeed.

Screenshots from the Amstrad CPC version.


Overall, the European C64 release has the best combination of scrolling, detail and colour in comparison to the original. The 16-bits come as a close second; in fact, they would have beaten the C64 if not for the lack of attention to detail in level design and having so much worse scrolling, because when you just look at the screenshots, the 16-bit versions look very much better. It just isn't always about the prettiness. I think the rest of them are quite obvious.

1. ARCADE
2. COMMODORE 64 - SOFTWARE PROJECTS
3. COMMODORE AMIGA / ATARI ST
4. ZX SPECTRUM
5. AMSTRAD CPC
6. DOS
7. COMMODORE 64 - CAPCOM

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SOUNDS

I can't say for sure what the arcade gamers of old felt like about the soundtrack, but now, the first thing that comes to mind when hearing the arcade soundtrack is... Sega Megadrive (Genesis). The plastic quality to all the instruments and the sound effects points toward a very 16-bit Sega-like machinery inside the arcade cabinet. If you happen to like that sort of thing, then fine, but to me, it lacks personality. The songs have good elements in them, and can even be called complex, but some of the tunes, ultimately, are not all that memorable. Sure, the arcade machinery allows a multi-channel soundtrack to play alongside multiple sound effects at once, but I just don't think it sounds all that good.

Of course, I compare everything to Tim Follin's C64 soundtrack, because that's the one I heard first, and still think is the best one out there. Starting with the amazing percussion piece in the title screen, it sets the tone for the whole game - a mad feast of beastly machines, bullets of all sorts and dead bodies. The in-game soundtrack is much more melodic, featuring full use of the 3-tone SID chip with all sorts of filters, arpeggios and strange noises. All the in-game tunes have their origins in the arcade soundtrack, but there are a lot more new dramatics and melodic logic that suits the C64's abilities perfectly. Also, the tune for writing your name on the high scores list is a completely new one, which combines the strengths of both the percussive intro tune and the in-game tunes in a very fitting way. I just cannot find enough superlative words to express what I think of this soundtrack. There are no sound effects, but I never paid much attention to it.

And still, that is what makes all the difference when you get to hear the 128k Spectrum soundtrack. The songs are the same Tim Follin masterpieces as on the C64, only fitted for the AY-chip, and I have to say it's not too bad at all. Only the title tune is missing, but that's not too harsh an omission, because what you get instead, are the beeperized sound effects on top of the music - the same effects that you are the only sounds you will hear in the 48k version. I really cannot say for sure, which one I prefer more in this case, the C64 or the 128k Spectrum version, because both have their strengths, so I feel like I have to make them share the spot.

I couldn't find an Amstrad version with any music, so I'm assuming their version was released only with sound effects, which basically sounds much like the 48k Spectrum version. If you readers can correct me in this matter, feel free to leave a comment.

The American C64 version only has one tune, which is a cheaply made, slightly slower version of the arcade level 1 tune. That's not to say that it's bad - it's just boring. However, you do get some sort of sound effects to go with it. There aren't many, and they aren't even very audible, but at least there are some.

It's pretty much the same thing with the DOS version - only one tune that loops all the time. I cannot say for certain, if it plays too quickly because of my DOSbox settings, but at least the game plays at a manageable speed. The game's age being what it is, all the sounds are played through the PC speaker, which makes an even more agonizing experience than the American C64 version. There are a couple of quick sound effects that will override the music while they are played, but it doesn't make much of a difference on the whole. I'm not sure if the one tune is less boring if it's quicker, but it is harder to follow due to not having more than one cruddy beep channel going on for it.

Then we get to the 16-bit home conversions, which are once again very different from one another. The closest equivalent I can think of for the Atari ST version is the 128k Spectrum soundtrack, as both have a similar sort of sound set, and have music and sfx simultaneously. The ST version also has the high score tune from the C64 version, but the title screen plays level 4 tune. Naturally, the Amiga version has the most natural sounding soundtrack, and it also has the effects; all of which sound fantastic in their own way, but lack a certain clarity and are more comfortably arranged for a non-chiptune music listener. It is very good, but lacks a bit of personality, along with the C64's title tune and high score tune, and for these reasons, I can't give it the highest marks.

In these sorts of cases, having different tunes makes the comparing a nightmare, since it's mostly about each individual's taste in music. I happen to like the Tim Follin soundtrack a lot more than the original, so you lot will just have to accept my decision based on a personal opinion this time.

1. COMMODORE 64 - S.P. / ZX SPECTRUM 128k / ATARI ST
2. COMMODORE AMIGA / ARCADE
3. COMMODORE 64 - CAPCOM
4. DOS
5. AMSTRAD CPC / ZX SPECTRUM 48k

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OVERALL

This may look a bit messy, but then it was a messy and troublesome comparison. In most cases, you really only need to concentrate on the playability to know which games are actually worth playing, but I'd say the Amiga version is worth playing (with cheats on) to hear all the Follin tunes in a different way. Otherwise, the top 3 really are the top 3, although everyone's opinions are bound to differ. My preferred combination would be the arcade's playability with its graphics, with Tim Follin's C64 soundtrack and 128k Spectrum's effects.

1. ARCADE: Playability 7, Graphics 7, Sounds 4 = TOTAL 18
2. COMMODORE 64 (EU): Playability 6, Graphics 6, Sounds 5 = TOTAL 17
3. ZX SPECTRUM 128k: Playability 5, Graphics 4, Sounds 5 = TOTAL 14
4. ATARI ST: Playability 2, Graphics 5, Sounds 5 = TOTAL 12
5. COMMODORE AMIGA: Playability 2, Graphics 5, Sounds 4 = TOTAL 11
6. ZX SPECTRUM 48k: Playability 5, Graphics 4, Sounds 1 = TOTAL 10
7. AMSTRAD CPC: Playability 4, Graphics 3, Sounds 1 = TOTAL 8
8. COMMODORE 64 (US): Playability 3, Graphics 1, Sounds 3 = TOTAL 7
9. DOS: Playability 1, Graphics 2, Sounds 2 = TOTAL 5

Now, for the sake of completeness and clarity, let's take a look at the Nintendo version of Bionic Commando, and the most direct revisions of it.


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Developed for the Nintendo Famicom by Capcom, and released originally in Japan as "Hitler no Fukkatsu: Top Secret".
Designed by Hatchan
Music by Junko Tamiya

Re-developed for the Nintendo Game Boy by Minakuchi Engineering, with music by Kouji Murata.
Released through Capcom in 1992.

Re-re-developed for the Sony PlayStation 3 (PSN), Microsoft X-Box Live Arcade and Windows PC by Grin, and released as "Bionic Commando Rearmed" through Capcom in 2008.

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Contrary to most other games I've featured on this blog so far, I will not be doing a comparison of this one, because the three versions that resemble each other the most, are still too different from each other to make any sort of sense in doing a comparison of. Therefore, this will be more of a quick (by my standards) review of all three versions simultaneously. Also, this is my way of making as clear a distinction as possible to all the people who confuse Bionic Commando with Bionic Commando.

Intro screens from the original Japanese Famicom release + B.C. logo.
Capcom decided to cash in on their new bionic action game idea, and made a new game strictly aimed for the home console market, which was loosely based on the original Top Secret canon. This time, in the original Japanese version, a neo-Nazi nation called the Empire is planning on taking over the world, and have revived Adolf Hitler from his preserved state to help them launch the weapons of mass destruction that the old Nazis intended on using on the Allied powers. The Federation Forces (your lot) have discovered top secret documents about project "Albatros", which is basically all about the Empire's plan, and their sending of their top man - Super Joe (from the original Commando game) - to do the job ends in his capture. This is where you step in.

You control the bionic commando wearing green overalls. He cannot jump, but he can use a bionic arm to swing across gaps and obstacles, and knock over enemy soldiers if lucky. This game, unlike the original Top Secret game, features a fairly non-linear map of areas, which you can go through in a seemingly free order, although you will learn the best possible order with a couple of playthroughs. Some of the areas are neutral, some hostile. At the end of each area, you will obtain additional items or weapons as a bonus, some of which are necessary to access different areas, and most of which require you to kill an end-level boss. If you fire your weapon in a neutral area, you will be attacked by the guards. In the hostile areas, you will first need to find a communications room, which you can use to communicate with comrades and wire-tap to listen on enemy conversations to gather important information for your future endeavours. Also, between areas, you might become intercepted by the enemy, in which case you will have to play an area very much like a level from the original Commando game. And that's how the game basically works.

Screenshots from Bionic Commando (NES).

Controlling your bionic commando is fairly similar to the original game's controls: although you can only shoot left or right, your man is more agile in using his bionic arm, having all of five different directions he can launch it to. Also similarly to the original game, he can drop from mid-swing. However, unlike in the original, here you can manually use lifts. You might be surprised to hear, that there are some seemingly minor gameplay differences between the original Japanese version of "Hitler no Fukkatsu" and the Bionic Commando we know better throughout the rest of the world. The most obvious and important gameplay element that was added to Bionic Commando is your ability to knock over your enemies while swinging on the bionic arm. If you try to do this on the Japanese version, you will get killed. Also, there are some minor level design differences, which can be either good or bad, depending on the level.

While the Game Boy revision doesn't add much flavour to the soup, other than a new, more futuristic setting and more storyline cutscenes, 2008's Bionic Commando Rearmed has been given some fantastic gameplay enhancements. The most notable of them is the addition of a co-operative multi-player campaign mode, although other two-player game modes have been added in as well. Regarding the basic gameplay, the most helpful enhancement seems to be the ability to change weapons instantly during gameplay, as opposed to having a limit of one weapon per level. Also, the new health bar system that replenishes by killing enemies is preferable to the old health system which involved earning more hit points. Finally, for beginners, it will be good to know that BCR features optional difficulty settings, which the original NES version doesn't, and equals BCR's hard difficulty setting.

Screenshots from the Nintendo Game Boy version.

Graphically, the three games are each their very own separate entities, and you really cannot expect any of them to be comparable to each other. The Game Boy version looks futuristic, but is greyscale due to hardware limitations; the Nintendo version is not quite as futuristic, but is certainly sci-fi enough to not be considered entirely realistic, and is very colourful compared to the handheld version. Then come all the 2D/3D side-viewed hi-res depth graphics and all that, which I'm not very able to talk about, because it's all too modern. If it is modern quality you are after, choose the 2008 version. If it is retro you are after, choose either one of the Nintendos.

Sound-wise, the 2008 version is almost boring, because it's so clean and tech-symphonic in a modern way. As a retro gamer, I have the obligation to be biased towards retro, don't I? Anyway, the Nintendo soundtracks are rather interestingly some sort of fusions of the original arcade soundtrack and Tim Follin's revision, and the creators have included quite a bit of their own tunes in as well, which are not bad at all. Added to that, you do get some nice sound effects that play on top of the music, but you would really have to be a die-hard Follin fanatic not to be able to properly enjoy the Nintendo soundtracks. Of course, I'm mostly speaking of myself here.

Screenshots from Bionic Commando Rearmed (PC/XB/PS3).

Although I have only been able to play the PC version of BCR, I feel it's enough to make a fair judgment of it. It certainly is the best version of "Hitler no Fukkatsu: Top Secret" out there for whoever hasn't played any version of it, but is keen to test it out. If, however, your abilities are top notch, go for the NES version, but you should try it out regardless of your talent, because otherwise you will be missing out on one of the most classic NES games ever. Nintendo Power ranked it as the 17th best NES game ever, praising its originality in particular. Questicle has given it an A- rating more recently. Even the Angry Video Game Nerd has declined (so far) of making a review of it because it's too good. But that doesn't mean the revisions aren't brilliant as well. See for yourselves.

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So, you're probably wondering, which one do I think is the better game, right? I shall tell it to you anyway. There is almost no point in trying to decide, which game is the better one, because they are so very different. The original is so intensely rooted in its arcade origins, that it almost has no place in home computers or consoles, but it sure enough exists. Moreover, Tim Follin's soundtrack is more than enough reason to own a copy of any of the versions he was working on, but most particularly the European C64 version. Still, booting up the arcade original on MAME is the way to go if you want to have a fair chance at beating it.

The alternative Bionic Commando for the NES is exactly that - an alternative. But it is a ridiculously good one, and certainly the better of the two for an unhurried home gaming experience, and it is very much better still as the Rearmed version. Still, I prefer the C64 soundtrack enough to have the need for all three in my collection.

--UPDATE! 12th of November, 2014--
Here's another video link from Gaming History Source to go with all of the text above. This video features all 10 versions featured here, as well as the two Gameboy versions I didn't talk about here.



Thank you very much for reading, hope you liked it!
Comments, suggestions and corrections are entirely welcome, but at this point, I cannot concentrate on more comparison requests due to the current workload. Besides, I'm planning on taking some time off from the blog in the near future, just to reboot myself from this mess.
But for now, pip-pip.

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