"They lost their hero to the enemy. They went looking for the perfect soldier to rescue him. They found some guy who couldn't even jump."
"Let me tell you about the man I met when I was young."
Bionic Commando (a.k.a. Hitler's Revival: Top Secret) is an action-adventure side-scrolling platformer for the Nintendo Entertainment System made by Capcom. You play as Ladd Spencer (or Rad in later versions), who as the titular commando wields various guns and also has a bionic arm, which he can use as a grappling hook to swing across the levels. However, there is a catch: there is no jump button.Ladd's job is to rescue a soldier named "Super Joe"(who was the hero of an older Capcom arcade game, called Commando,) from the Imperial Army (who were a Neo-Nazi nation in the Japanese version). Along the way, he shoots various Mooks, communicates with friendly agents, wiretaps enemy conversations, but most importantly, learns the purpose of the Imperial Army' "Albatross" project: - which involves the revival of the project's original leader, Adolf Hitler ("Master D" in the American version).In order to accomplish his mission, Ladd uses his team's helicopter to move from stage to stage in a lattice fashion - he can move from stage to stage and complete them in any order, although some stages (notably the later ones) require "more power" to reach.Oh, and this game is very Nintendo Hard. Don't say you weren't warned.Bionic Commando is a sequel of sorts to the very different, top-down shooter Commando (Super Joe was the hero of Commando), and the game includes several mini-levels based on the original. It in turn had its own sequel, a similar game but with a more sci-fi look, for the Game Boy. It also received another sequel for the Game Boy Color, titled Bionic Commando: Elite Forces.The series remained dormant for several years before being revived. First an enhanced remake of the original NES game titled Bionic Commando: Rearmed was released for PlayStation Network and Xbox LIVE Arcade in 2008. Then in 2009 a Darker and Edgier sequel was produced, named simply Bionic Commando, and released for Xbox 360, Playstation3 and PC. An interquel to these two games, Bionic Commando Rearmed 2, was released in 2011.Spencer is a character in Marvel vs. Capcom 3.The Rearmed 2 website can be found here.
Alas, Poor Villain: The ending to Rearmed 2 has a lot of this, with Super Joe remarking that none of the game's villains were bad people, just decent folks who ended up doing bad things due to a series of unfortunate events. It also includes a Heel Realization by Super Joe, which somewhat humanizes his previous portrayal in the next-gen game.
All There in the Manual: In the sequel, lots of background info is buried in the files you unlock, and the incident leading to Spencer's incarceration is only covered in a webcomic that wound up not being packaged as a print comic as a reservation preorder.
The cover art for Rearmed 2 seems to be a deliberate aversion of this trope, as it can only be described as deliberately goofy.
Anime Theme Song: "Bionic Commando" (sometimes called "Go! Go! Bionic Commando" or just "Go! Go! Bionic!") sung by the inimitable Ichiro Mizuki of JAM Project fame. (There's a song on the Bionic Commando Rearmed OST called "Go Go Bionic", but it's nothing but thirty seconds of a Japanese guy saying "Go! Go! Bionic!" with the NES game's Area 1 tune in the background.)
Art Evolution: Although the overall world's art style is similar (enemies with ridiculously colorful uniforms, walking mechs, etc.), the character design has changed drastically from Rearmed to the sequel. Super Joe now looks like Jack Nicholson in full Joker mode (sans makeup), although the change is somewhat believeably attributable to 10 years of aging and a desk job. There's no plausible explanation to how Spencer went from a red-haired Duke Nukem clone to a grungy rock band frontman who could double for Ronan Dex, though. Humorously, Gottfried Groeder looks exactly the same as he did in Rearmed, albeit 20-30 years older (guess the years haven't been kind).
Attract Mode: The game has a rather lengthy intro sequence when left running at the title screen that explains most of the story and gives demos of the gameplay.
Badass Beard: Sabio sports one in Rearmed 2. It's probably what allowed him to become leader of Pagagaya in the first place.
Beat Them at Their Own Game: Inverted; a couple of notable sub-bosses and bosses also have bionic arm weaponry, and yours is largely useless against them (but they can still knock you around with theirs)
What's sort of ironic is that the Worlds of Power book based on this game is one of the few in the series where people actually died.
Rearmed is mostly unchanged in the Japanese version, too, making this somewhat of a Recursive Import.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: If you played the Demo version of Rearmed instead of purchasing the game, the first boss will fail to load its attack patterns, saying you need to buy the full version of the game. Your character quips, "Aww, but I really wanted to fight you! Please..?" as well.
It's denial. It finally sinks in during the last cutscene, when Emily confronts Radd about his avoiding the issue. Radd finally faces the facts.
It's also potentially because she may not be dead, because while a section of her is inside his arm if she is dead or if the process is reversible is never commented on.
Darker and Edgier: The sequel is much, much more grim and apocalyptic(most of the game takes place in a nuked mega city) than any of the prior games, including the company's own remake of the NES game. Super Joe's is shown to be an ass, but then again so has Spencer. Spencer spent a better part of 10 years in prison, without his bionic arm, after witnessing the death of two rogue bionic agents. 10 years after fighting Badd, The Federation has turned into a cruel and cynical the-end-justifies-the-means regime. The terrorists opposing it are even worse, nuking a capitol city IN THE BEGINNING OF THE GAME. Oh, and apparently Spencer got his bionic arm by said Federation possibly sacrificing the life of his wife to make it. Whether all this is good or bad is up to you.
Considering the arcade version was a very cartoony game to begin with and the NES version was about blowing Hitler's head off, the NES game itself could be considered a Darker and Edgier version of the arcade game (although, not to the same extent as the 2009 sequel).
Determinator: Spencer doesn't like to give up. Even when faced with impossible odds, he just sees it as a challenge. Try to (and almost succeed in) kill him, and he'll make you suffer for it. It's almost to the point of psychopathy: the guy does not, cannot, and will not lose if he can do anything about it.
Disc One Final Boss: In the sequel, Super Joe isn't really the final boss—it's more of an interactive ending sequence. Still, take one look at that suit and you'll lament the boss fight that could've been.
Disc One Nuke: In the NES version, you get the rocket launcher, which is supremely overpowered compared to every other weapon, fairly early in the game (at about the 40% mark). There's only one level (the one with helicopters) where you'd even possibly want to use another gun - in this case, the three-way. The choppers still aren't around enough to make it worthwhile.
Difficulty By Region: The NES game had some changes to difficulty scattered about from the Famicom version. Rather than making the entire game easier or harder, they change the difficulty of certain segments — generally speaking, the earlier parts of the game are harder and the later ones easier in the NES version.
Disproportionate Retribution: Spencer was on death row, just cause he didn't follow one single order. Surely such a stunt would just have him stripped off of his Bionic Arm and position within military?
The online comic reveals that "one single order" was murdering two bionics who didn't want to be stripped off of their life-supporting implants.
He was put in jail because he didn't kill the two bionics, he let another one escape (Mag), and he killed an entire force of Federation soldiers when they tried to kill the two bionics. He also found out about the heavy crackdown on bionics, which ultimately led to the creation of Bio-Reign. He was imprisoned for failing to follow orders and treason.
Downer Ending: By the end of the game Mag is apparently dead, Emily has been revealed to have been changed in an unknown process into Rad's bionic arm, Super Joe is a (dead) scumbag, and the last we see of Rad is him plummeting from several thousand feet up.
If that wasn't enough, the developers went out of business so we'll never know if things get better or not.
Rearmed 2 may be able to solve those doubts. Keep up hope!
Your mileage may vary with Rearmed 2 since it changes the timeline thus making things slightly more confusing
Easter Egg: An interesting case of Throw It In happens when you re-attempt to fight a boss after dying. It only occurs the second time.
Super Joe: "Spencer! There's no way out! You'll just have to fuck it!"
Eleventh Hour Superpower: You have Super Joe's machine gun for the final 3 levels of Rearmed, and the upgraded rocket launcher only for the final boss fight.
You supposedly receive the special bazooka at the end of the original NES game, but despite three levels of explaining how powerful it is, it's exactly the same as the rocket launcher you've been carrying since area 5.
Engrish: The NES game's engrish is legendary, inspiring a number of memes. Rearmed makes several humorous references to it.
Fake Difficulty: Not being able to jump and no air control introduces a certain amount of this, but the original arcade game was teeth-gnashingly difficult due to sluggish response to the controls and not allowing you to use your bionic arm in the air.
Faux Action Girl: Mag, in the modern sequel. Introduced as a possible rival or boss, she then does nothing of import, and gets Hitler'd by the Big Bad.
Final Boss: Master D in the original and remakes, Groeder in the sequel.
Floating Platforms: Averted; just about everything Rad can attach his arm to is conceivably attached to the ground in some manner (for example, the various poles scattered across the stages).
Guide Dang It: In the NES version, the player can abort a mission by pressing Start+A+B simultaneously and return to the map screen. This would've come in handy if you enter a stage without having the proper equipment... if it weren't for the fact that the manual doesn't tell you this. Because of this, many first-time players often reset the game when they enter Area 6 without the Rocket Gun.
Hit Points: You start the game as a One-Hit-Point Wonder, but by grabbing items that various Mooks drop, you can gain more hitpoints to start out with, up to a maximum of nine per life if you're dedicated enough to get 300 of them. (Of course, you still die instantly when you fall in one of the game's many Bottomless Pits.)
No longer the case in BCR as you get the Hit Points meter to start. It does get upgraded, but only once.
Hollywood Cyborg: Yes indeed, although the sequel tries to real-physics it up a bit.
Hollywood Hacking: Intercepting enemy communications in Rearmed requires you to play a short minigame; in the full console sequel, you just grapple the computer and hit B (or "O," or whatever the action button is for the PC version).
In the original game, simply having the correct communicator will allow you to listen in to enemy chatter (though they may detect you and attack as soon as you're done listening). Justified in that spies specifically tune the various communicators to the enemy frequencies.
Idiot Hero: For the most part, Spencer is a fairly competent guy. But in the sequel, how in the name of all that's holy did he NOT get that his bionic arm has his wife's in it?!
Partially justified, due to the fact that this comes from denial. His wife rarely if ever interacted with him during Rearmed and a majority of the sequel and the only time she did he was asleep.
Interquel: Rearmed 2 takes place between Rearmed 1 and the next generation console version. Amoung other things it shows Spencer and Magdalene working together and sheds some light on the reasoning behind the "Bionic Purge."
Instant-Win Condition: In the NES game, the objective of every area except the last is to destroy the reactor. Bosses can be completely ignored in just about every level, and the two levels that have the boss that cannot be ignored can still be completed easily if you're willing (and able) to take a couple of hits.
Invulnerable Civilians: Averted - it's very possible to shoot innocent civilians in a neutral area; you'll just set off alarms and the Peacekeeper forces will attempt to kill you.
Played straight in Rearmed; opening fire in a neutral zone FSA camp doesn't trigger anything.
Jump Physics: Well, okay, more like swinging and arcing physics. But still.
Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Master D is an obvious stand in for Hitler. Rearmed 2 gives us new antagonist Sabio, dictator of an island nation threatening to launch missiles at the FSA. Obviously a stand in for Fidel Castro and Cuba.
Leap of Faith: A few notable instances in some parts of the game (particularly Stage 6). Also the title of one of the songs from Rearmed, appropriately enough.
Level 1 Music Represents: An odd case. The NES Area 1 music is iconic of the series to the point it makes up a large portion of the soundtrack in the sequel but it is in fact a rendition of the arcade game's Stage 2 music.
The Man Behind the Man: In the sequel, Groeder is the last boss proper, but Super Joe is the actual mastermind behind the whole mess. Sort of a reversal of roles in terms of difficulty, though.
Mandatory Twist Ending: More of a twist rising climax in the sequel. Thanks. Thanks a whooooole lot, Super Joe.
Man-Eating Plant: You get a slight rustling of leaves, and if you don't move, you're eaten.
Mood Whiplash: The halfway point of Rearmed is interrupted by Spencer mentioning his missing wife to Haley. It's an important plot point in '09, but in Rearmed it came right out of nowhere since it seemed to be just a remake of NES Bionic Commando up till that point.
While the sequel starts dark and gets darker, Spencer's sheer, unadulterated joy at being free and reunited with his bionic arm, even swinging through a hellhole of a city and viciously killing enemy troops, makes him appear almost sociopathic.
Mook Promotion: In the original NES game, the rival enemy bionic soldiers were simply unnamed minibosses. In the Rearmed remake, they were all made into a single character, Gottfried Groeder, who served as a Recurring Boss and The Dragon to the Big Bad, and who returns in the sequel as the final boss.
Surprise Difficulty: Stage 1 isn't too bad. The next few areas, while harder, are still reasonable. Stages 5 and 6 are really very hard.
Rearmed starts out harder than the later levels of the NES version, mainly due to intelligent enemies (they duck behind stuff to avoid your fire, etc...)
No One Could Survive That: After Nathan kills Groeder by shoving a grenade in his chest and kicking him off the high point they were fighting on:
Nathan: Try coming back from that!
No Swastikas: In the translation, the Nazis were changed to the "Badds", swastikas were removed, and Hitler was renamed Master D. Strangely enough, his dialogue portrait, which clearly shows Hitler, wasn't changed at all.
What is strange is that there's symbols and powerups scattered around in both the NES game and the updated remake which resemble the Imperial Eagle. That can't be coincidental.
Somewhat justified in that Spencer has been in prison for 10 years, just waiting to be killed, and Joe has become bitter and jaded from the events of the Bionic Purge, which he didn't entirely agree with but was forced to implement.
Nuke 'em: BioReign bombs entire Ascension City which is pretty much the game's equivalent to a New York.
Obtaining a collection of secret items in Rearmed unlocks the "Prototype Weapon" for use right away in the 2009 sequel, which replaces the weaker standard firearm.
One-Man Army: And Spencer is called out on this in the sequel. According to Armstrong, over 10,000 troops fought against the Imperials, but "Rad" Spencer and Super Joe got all the glory. For their part, the soldiers in Rearmed all say how much easier Spencer's actions are making the fight, and the Imperials are hugely demoralized because of how bad Radd is kicking their asses.
Also the reason why he's pulled out of death row and sent to Ascension City in the sequel: even after ten years in prison, he's considered so capable and uniquely adapted to the situation that he's the best shot the Federation has.
Palette Swap: Notably, the peacekeepers in the neutral zones are just white versions of the Mooks from the rest of the game.
Powered Armor: About half the bosses of Elite Forces are guys wearing this.
Powered by a Forsaken Child: In the sequel, it's revealed that all bionic limbs are created an unknown process using someone with strong emotional ties to the person usually family or spouses. It's also a semi-twisted, semi-sweet take on The Power of Love, if you think about it.
Product Placement: In the first level of the 2009 game, there are intact Pepsi vending machines, ads for Nvidia and Alienware cards, and plugs for the upcoming Dark Void.
Puzzle Boss: All of them. None of them can be taken down by direct fire. Instead, you'll have to listen to enemy conversations to figure out their weaknesses.
In the original game, more often than not, the puzzle is less about "how do I take this guy out" than it is about "how do I avoid this guy long enough to destroy the reactor and win".
Reformulated Game: The NES version, which adapted the wire-swinging concept from the arcade version into an entirely new game with selectable stages and more emphasis on exploration.
Required Secondary Powers: In the sequel, Spencer is outrageously tough to kill, and can deal great heaping gobs of damage just by landing correctly. (Generally that means arm-first...) Wholly justified—his body must be bionically reinforced to keep up with the rigors of his bionic arm.
Why yes it is. In the 360/PS3 version, the in-game text actually outright says he possesses some kind of "bionic armor". This not only makes him highly durable, but also allows him to regenerate health. Also like his other bionics, over time he gets used to using it again and it gets stronger, or "upgrades" or whatever you want to call it. So yeah, apparnetly he is equipped with some kind of biomechanical armor, presumably either under his skin or nanotech.
Respawning Enemies: Averted and played straight - unless the enemy spawned from an opening/shutting door, most enemies will stay dead for good no matter how far you stray from them. However, if you leave an area through a doorway, then come back, the enemies will respawn.
Ret Canon: The connection between the original Commando and Bionic Commando was originally an American invention for the arcade game when they were promoting it, claiming that the nameless player character were controlling was actually Super Joe himself. The NES version added Commando-like overhead segments and made Super Joe into a real character in the game. The 2009 sequel retconned Super Joe's identity into "Joseph Gibson", essentially linking the original Commando with its sequel Mercs.
Sequence Breaking: Mostly Averted in the NES version. Besides level grinding, There's nothing to stop you from playing any and all of the levels in whatever order you want but you won't get far in the later ones without the proper equipment.
Shotguns Are Just Better: The '09 game features an anti-tank shotgun usually aimed at infantry: the Hiker fires nine super-sized-buckshot shells for clearing out armored enemies, and is, in fact, unstoppable against anything that isn't powered armor, while the last shot is specifically a super-heavy armor-piercing giant shell for use against armor.
The Rearmed shotgun is extremely powerful up close, beaten only by the rocket launcher and a full machine-gun clip, but the range is so short, even with the range-extending duckbill upgrade, that it's best used to get swinging again than as a weapon.
Shout-Out: Rearmed lovingly reminds you of its roots on a regular basis ("Get the heck out of here, you nerd!") Also, the characters strenuously avoid using Hitler's name to the point of (intentional) comedy.
The Xbox sequel has large signs for TriCell all over Ascension City.
In Rearmed There's a challenge run called the "Dragon Run" which is a reference to the Mecha Dragon Boss of Mega Man 2.
Area 5 of Rearmed features safety posters reading ''Warning! Falling Objects! Wear a helmet!", depicting a Metool helmet. In the same level, there are background decals of a hanging iron balls on chains, an irritating obstacle in the first game which is no longer implemented in the remake.
Single Use Shield: A pendant, which lasts one stage, and can block a single projectile, but also goes away if you die some other way.
Sociopathic Hero: When not angsting about his missing wife or that his country has betrayed him in the most vile way possible, Spencer takes a little too much joy in throwing people off cliffs and shooting them in the head.
Soundtrack Dissonance: The music for the first level of the Arcade game is far too upbeat for the setting, especially considering the rest of the soundtrack.
Also, the music box lullaby after destruction of the Constructor in the 2009 version.
Spell My Name with an S: The NES version calls the main character "Ladd", while the Game Boy version uses "Rad Spencer". Rearmed renames the character "Nathan Spencer", but uses "Rad" as his nickname.note He was the first bionic solder, and spent a lot of his time in Research and Development, enough that people started calling him "R And D". When he went into the field, this nickname was shortened into his codename, "Rad."
The Stinger: The 2009 Sequel. Gets bonus cryptic points for being in Morse code AND German!
Also gets points for Continuity Porn, since it says to start up one "Project Albatross."
Stupid Helicopter Hitler: Among other things, the Imperial Force utilize wired, cybernetic soldiers, experiment on plant-life and bugs in Area 3 in the NES version, have mobilized droids in their ranks, keep their master in a status tube, and they also made the Albatross.
Translation Matchmaking: Originally called Top Secret in Japan, the arcade game was retitled Bionic Commando and marketed as a Commando spinoff.
Truce Zone: Various neutral zones in the original.
Ultimate Universe: Elite Forces seems to be this. It starts with a similar premise—long time war, Super—er, I mean, Commander Joe missing, etc, but everything else is just completely different. New fictional countries, no nazis or Hitler, different villainous motivation, a whole bionic corp. Even the final boss seems like something out of an Ultimate book.
Video Game Cruelty Potential: In-game, Spencer really enjoys his job, even though his job is killing a whole lot of people. For the player, the variety of ways in which you can utterly humiliate your enemies before killing them (or while killing them), lends itself to this trope.
Video Game Remake: The Game Boy version practically a port of the NES one with a change in setting. Elite Forces on the other hand, follows the same plot, but has completely different stages. Rearmed is a straight remake of the NES game with polygonal graphics.
Weaksauce Weakness: Spencer is weighed down by his bionics and can't swim. Further, he's even more succeptible to radiation due to the sensitive electronics keeping him plugged in and bionic. While only justifying Bottomless Pits in the original and Rearmed, the radiation-cloaked Ascension City is a lot more dangerous for Spencer.
What Could Have Been: Unlockable artwork shows several cut ideas from the sequel, including an aquatic Biomech of some kind.
Wreaking Havok: Hurling around debris and enemy soldiers in '09. Spencer can throw real far and real accurate and real hard, making for some really satisfying takedowns.
Your Head A Splode: Adolf Hitler, er, I mean Master-D, when you destroy the helicopter he attempts to escape in at the end of the game. Quite gory, really, considering the Bowdlerization to the rest of the game. This is the only reason the Rearmed release has an "M" rating, as there's surprisingly little blood elsewhere. In the sequel, it's the only way to make sure a bionic stays dead.