Bionic Commando Rearmed is a makeover of the classic 8-bit game, originally released 20 years ago. Bionic Commando Rearmed will be available for digital download from Xbox LIVE Arcade, PlayStationNetwork and PC this spring. Bionic Commando Rearmed sees a return of the intense 2D side scrolling, shooting and grappling action from the much-loved 1988 Bionic Commando on the original 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System. Bionic Commando Rearmed brings the amazing gameplay up to date with stunning new visuals, new weapons, online rankings, a reworked musical score and the addition of a 2-player co-op mode. The title will also provide cross-game interoperability, as completing parts of Bionic Commando Rearmed will unlock new content and provide secret insight into characters and plot of the brand new Bionic Commando sequel coming later in 2008.
Bionic Commando Rearmed will contain the following features
Previews: Bionic Commando Capcom's original swinger returns for some hot hardcore action.
By Jeremy Parish 07/17/2008
You're reading an E3 2008 preview, which we've broken into three sections to make it easy to sift through during this week of convention madness. Check out E3.1UP.COM for all (meaning words, screens, and videos) of our E3 2008 coverage.
What's the game about? A glossy 2D-in-3D remake of the innovative NES platform action game. Take control of bionic commando "Rad" Spencer, swinging through more than a dozen levels of bowdlerized Nazis.
What's new for E3? The version on the show floor is the final game -- it should be available on PSN and XBLA any week now.
What's our take? Those old enough to remember know that Bionic Commando was an incredible action game -- a challenging title that forced you to meet it on its own terms, since unlike his 8-bit peers, Rad wasn't capable of jumping. Not even a little! Instead, he was forced to get about with his bionic arm, a wire grappling hook capable of latching onto most surfaces. He could also grab objects and stun foes, as well as swing on his arm or hang and fire at enemies.
SCREENS: Click the image above to check out all Bionic Commando Rearmed screens.
Those too young to remember will find themselves schooled with this remake. It's wonderfully faithful to the original, with stage layouts cribbed directly from the NES version. Even the color schemes are perfect. But it's not just a simple port; the graphics are fully 3D, running in the same engine that developer Grin is using for its upcoming next-gen sequel for the series. Boss encounters are expanded. The grappling arm has new abilities, such as grabbing objects and flinging them. Weapons are tweaked and improved. Rad can equip more than one item at a time, and he can carry all his communication gear at once, meaning you're no longer forced to evacuate a level if you enter carrying the wrong radio equipment. What hasn't changed is the phenomenal, inventive gameplay. Grappling is still fluid, effective, and fun. The remixed music contains familiar tunes and refrains. The difficulty level is still high -- tough but fair. And there are hidden bonuses and special challenge levels to be sought and mastered, not to mention multiple difficulty modes and in-game achievements, even in the PSN version. This could very well go down as the finest retro remake ever, and it couldn't happen to a more deserving game. Not bad for a sawbuck.
If you enjoy a well-crafted action game, you'd be remiss in skipping Rearmed -- even if you couldn't care less about NES games.
By Jeremy Parish 08/13/2008
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The soundtrack to Bionic Commando: Rearmed is a fantastic piece of work, a deft contemporary reworking of classic 8-bit NES tunes. In fact, it's so good that Capcom put it up for sale on the iTunes Store months ago to build hype for the game. The dozen or so tracks that play throughout this remake exhibit a remarkable degree of fidelity to the source material: The remixes are clever embellishments, transforming three-channel NES wavetable melodies into something wholly appropriate to the glossy 3D visuals they accompany. Yet within these new textures and sounds, the original tunes are preserved perfectly. Rearmed's remixes demonstrate far more creativity than the usual game-music reworkings -- they're not merely old tunes with boring techno tracks overdubbed, or once-great themes reinterpreted with wailing, cheesy, electric butt-rock guitars that would've sounded embarrassingly dated even back when the NES was popular. Rather, Rearmed sports a mesmerizing blend of familiar tunes and swirling European electronica, a mix good enough to enjoy outside the context of the game without a disapproving loved one asking, "Are you listening to videogame music?"
Like its exceptional soundtrack, the NES version of Bionic Commando is basically perfect despite its technological limitations. Which isn't to say it's flawless, exactly -- but rather that the core game mechanics, overall structure, and individual level designs work together so well that the game remains compelling, addictive, and challenging 20 years later. Rather than changing these foundational elements and risking spoiling the chemistry that made the older game an instant classic, Rearmed developer Grin built on them to create something fundamentally consistent, yet capable of meeting the standards of younger gamers who need a bit more flash and "oomph" in their games.
Click the image above to check out all Bionic Commando: Rearmed screens.
Rearmed adds plenty of interesting new twists; it's a remake in the truest sense, yet it never feels like a slavish adaptation. Elements that were goofy or awkward in the old game are reconsidered or even deleted here. Players are no longer forced to collect continues in order to keep going after running out of lives. The hero, Capt. Nathan "Rad" Spencer, carries all his gear into combat now, so if you bring the wrong communicator or weapon to the firefight, you no longer have to warp out of the level. Enemy placements are revamped to minimize cheap, unfair deaths, but their health and A.I. received upgrades so as to preserve the challenge. Bosses are reinvented or even created out of whole cloth to guarantee an interesting face-off at the end of each level. The good captain even has a few new weapons in his arsenal, with some existing weapons rebalanced to encourage variety; Super Joe's machine gun is no longer a worthless piece of nothing, and the rocket launcher has enough drawbacks that it won't be the player's standard gear after it's acquired in area five.
Yet, even with all of these changes and additions, Rearmed is unquestionably Bionic Commando. It retains the classic level designs, which were brilliantly crafted all those years ago to provide an optimum challenge to a hero with no jump button. The plot remains the same, despite the expanded text and odd little subplots (like Spencer's out-of-left-field lamentations about his ex-wife, which provide the game's only real "Uh, what?" moments). Players still move about a map, alternating between action stages, neutral zones, and top-down enemy encounters.
Click the image above to check out all Bionic Commando: Rearmed screens.
Most importantly, though, the essence of Bionic Commando is perfectly preserved in Rearmed: the sheer visceral intuitiveness of the swinging mechanics. Granted, old-time fans will need to readjust a bit to the new animation; Spencer moves a bit more slowly than in the past, so while chaining consecutive swings requires different timing than before, it still works in a way that no other game featuring grappling has ever matched. Dozens upon dozens of unlockable VR training rooms offer both a chance to master the game's new feel as well as a higher degree of challenge than the core levels could hope to offer.
Veteran players should also appreciate the thoughtful plot revisionism. Bionic Commando suffers from a long and rocky history of story retcons and ham-handed censorship, and Rearmed manages to reconcile all of these conflicting or contradictory elements in an unexpectedly satisfying fashion. You're not launching a rocket into Hitler's face at the end so hard that his skull explodes into bloody gibs, per se...but fans definitely won't be disappointed with the way the end result plays out. Game remakes have become their own little cottage industry in recent years; any company in possession of a stable of classic franchises is essentially sitting on free money. Even then, remakes of Rearmed's caliber are uncommon; it ranks up there with Metroid: Zero Mission and Mega Man: Powered Up as the best of the best, the standard by which to judge all others. Given the quality of the core mission, the cooperative multiplayer, the copious hidden content, the expansive optional modes, and the exhaustive in-game database, Rearmed is a game that could easily sell for full retail price and seem like a good deal. That it's on offer for a mere sawbuck (or $15, for you unlucky PC fans) should go down in history as one of gaming's best deals. If you enjoy a well-crafted action game, you'd be remiss in skipping Rearmed -- even if you couldn't care less about NES games.