Bionic Commando (NES)
200x100 GFX Company: Capcom
Genre: Platformer
Released: USA: 1988
From the game intro
I'll talk about the person I met when I was young...

In 198X we've found the Badds' top secret material called Albatros which was never put into practice. Imperial Force's Generalissimo Killt has seen the plan, and decided to execute the plan himself. The Federation tried to stop his attempt by sending our hero Super Joe. But lost contact with him. One brave man was sent with a mission... to rescue Super Joe.
The story begins...
The NES version of Bionic Commando is not a port of the arcade version but a new one-player adventure that shares the arcade versions concepts. Everything from the coin-op version was redesigned and arguably seems a bit more serious. The original graphics looked a bit like Tiger Road but the NES game goes for a more realistic look. Many of the original enemy soldiers remain but most of the strange creatures like Stage 2's gremlins were removed or replaced. In fact, the mechs seen on the box art used for the game didn't make the leap to the NES cart. Some of the arcade BGM tracks re-appear in altered forms like Area 1's reuse of the Stage 2 music. Even the way the grappling line works was tweaked and seems less awkward to use than the arcade version. The connection to the Commando series was made even stronger by the overhead-view shooter stages that are triggered when your helicopter is intercepted by enemy transports on the map screen. These are like short versions of the vertical battleground areas in Commando except Radd can swing the grappling hook in a 360-degree attack that stuns enemies and repels projectiles.

The Nazi scum in the original Japanese version, known as Top Secret, are referred to here as the Badds in the U.S. version of the game and the Nazz in that game's manual. This censorship actually turned a cutscene near the end of the game into a huge surprise revelation. I know it looks goofy to avoid spoiling an event from a 1988 NES game but some readers may be new to this stuff.

This specific version of Bionic Commando seems to branch off into it's own franchise with it's own remakes on other systems. There is a GameBoy version that gives it's own futuristic take on the same story, a GameBoy Color game with a two new agents rescuing Super Joe and 2008's Bionic Commando:ReArmed remake that is based in the same continuity as the PS3/X-Box 360 Bionic Commando game of 2009.

Some fans believe that the proper translation of Radd Spencer's name would've been Ladd. Honestly, it was the late 1980's and if one was given a choice of being rad or not rad, one chose to be rad. It was the only way to live and we were better people for it. The 2008 Rearmed remake names him Nathan "Rad" Spencer and that seems to be his current official name everywhere now. Oddly enough, he isn't even referred to by name in the U.S. manual.

Mercs, not Bionic Commando, is the true sequel to Commando, though connecting Super Joe and Joe Gibson as a single wasn't confirmed until the Bionic Commando: Rearmed rewrites. The arcade game's U.S. flyer and some direct port game manuals for Bionic Commando state that Super Joe is the hero along with an unnamed second player. The recent Rearmed games make Super Joe the definite hero in the arcade version, but it's still not clear whether it was truly meant to be him in the original game or just a reuse of the name to avoid calling him "Playerone McShootyguy" in flyers and manuals. It's even less clear in the Speed Rumbler game that namechecks him only in the flyer as well since, well, it would be kinda goofy. Don't forget that Capcom reused player names quite a bit back then yet no one assumes that the sword-carrying Ryu from Trojan and the street-fighter from Avengers is the same Ryu from Street Fighter.

The look of some weapons in the are based on real weapons. The Rocket Gun looks a bit like the RPG-7 (Rocket Propelled Grenade). Joe's Machinegun looks like an M-16 or AR-15 which is also the rifle Super Joe carries in the official art for Commando. The Hyper Bazooka drawing in the manual looks a bit like a Panzerfaust-3 on steroids.

The name "Project Albatros" (with one 's') may not be a misspelling. Albatros (one 's') is how you spell Albatross in the German language. Seeing as how the bad guys plan to revive an old Nazi plot, use of the word Albatros makes sense. There was even a German aircraft manufacturer named Albatros-Flugzeugwerke but they were absorbed by another company many years before World War II. Speaking of translations, the shield-carrying boss of Area 4, called the Bearded Soldier in the manual, () may have been a victim of the same thing mentioned on TvTropes.com's Lost in Translation page. Click "Anime and Manga" and scroll down to the One Piece bit about the Shirohige name. It's just a hunch that could only be confirmed by seeing the Japanese Famicom instructions for Top Secret.
Player Characters:
Radd Spencer
Enemy Characters:
Generalissimo Killt Master-D Giant Soldier
Other Characters:
Super Joe Gibson
Screenshots:
(click to see full size)
Title Screen
There's more than one way to get that 1-UP.
Area 8
Overhead combat takes place when you're intercepted by enemy convoys
Other Versions of the Game:
Game also appears in:
Capcom Classics Mini Mix
ScrollBoss Secton Links:
Review - Old ScrollBoss review
Sprites - Bionic Commando graphics
Custom Sprites - custom Radd Spencer sprites
Logos - Bionic Commando game logos
Custom Toy - Radd Spencer custom G.I. JOE (JvsC style) action figure
Scans - Magazine Ad


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