September 3, 2008 - Playing Bionic Commando from start to finish is like getting kicked in the balls repeatedly while being set on fire. By the time most people make it to the final stages, they're ready to rip off Radd Spencer's bionic arm - yes, the main character's parents were likely stoner morons - and violently shove it where the sun doesn't shine. However, there's still a reason why it ranks among my all-time favorite NES games; I like to get my swing on.
Precious few other games incorporate swing mechanics as thoroughly into the design of each stage as Bionic Commando. Zipping upwards onto platforms, propelling yourself with forward swing momentum across bottomless gaps, deflecting enemy bullets, and launching your grappler at the last possible second in mid-fall to save yourself from death makes the action all the more thrilling.
The odd thing about Bionic Commando is you can't jump...at all. There are occasional bounce triggers that launch you into the air if you run across them, but that's it. It begs the question: If you've got a working pair of legs, why not use them? The answer: Because The Man says so. Oh, but you're allowed to run…of course.
You'd think a dangerous rescue mission deep behind enemy lines would call for the use of every available asset at your disposal. You're loaded up with big guns, high-tech communications gizmos, and a robotic arm grappling hook that lets you do some crazy acrobatic stunts. Apparently, leg muscles were not factored into this formula.
It's possible the Federation hard-wired your brain with a jump inhibitor mechanism, or maybe it's just laziness, but no one can say for certain. While I'm fully aware it's a product of the game design, I sometimes wonder how Radd himself accounts for his mysterious inability.
CCC Staff Contributor / Pixel Artist