"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. Interestingly, he is unable to jump, and is instead dependent on the arm to climb around and cross gaps. (Perhaps a form of Gameplay and Story Segregation?)
Ladd's job is to rescue a soldier named "Super Joe" 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 Nintendo 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 and Play Station 3. An Interquel to the said two games, Bionic Commando Rearmed 2, was released in 2011.
Spencer is one of the many playable characters in Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
The Rearmed 2 website can be found here.
- Alas, Poor Villain: The ending to Bionic Commando 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 Complete Monster 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.
- American Kirby Is Hardcore: The Japanese version of the arcade game had characters with wider cartoony eyes.
- The cover art for Bionic Commando 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 Bionic Commando Rearmed to the sequel. Super Joe now looks like Jack Nicholson in full Joker mode (sans makeup), although the change is somewhat believably 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 Bionic Commando 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 Bionic Commando Rearmed 2. It's probably what allowed him to become leader of Pagagaya in the first place.
- Badass Porn Stache: Spencer has one that would make Dan McNinja proud in Bionic Commando Rearmed 2.
- 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).
- Blind Idiot Translation: "This base will explod in 60 seconds."
- Book Ends: The game begins with Joe telling the story of a man he met when he was young. It ends with him finishing it, and hoping it will be told for a long time.
- "Damn rookies."
- Bowdlerise: All references to Nazis were edited out of the game and replaced with "Badds", and there are No Swastikas. For a more complete list of changes, see this game's entry over at Wikipedia.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: If you played the Demo version of Bionic Commando 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...?"
- Cruel Twist Ending: In the sequel, discovering that Spencer's missing wife... was taken by TASC and had some part of her uploaded or fashioned into his bionic arm! ...how Evangelionesque. Surprisingly, THIS twist is rather subtly alluded to, making several seemingly-inconsequential comments much, much more meaningful. Mind, after The Reveal, they really sledgehammer it in, and yet Spencer is denial until 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; while a section of her is inside his arm, whether 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 rouge 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.
- As 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Down the Drain: Area 2 is an underground chemical waste dumping site.
- 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
- Eleventh-Hour Superpower: You have Super Joe's machine gun for the final 3 levels of Bionic Commando 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. Bionic Commando Rearmed makes several humorous references to it.
- Face Heel Turn: Super Joe.
- 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:
HitlerMaster 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).
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Probably the most famous example of this trope in an NES game, next to Golgo 13.
- "What? You think you can stop me? You damn fool." So saith Hitler/Master D himself. Also, Hitler's head graphically explodes in a gory mess at the very end. And both of these were in the US version.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck: An enemy soldier in Area 16 will tell you to "Get the heck out of here, you nerd!"
- Grappling Hook Pistol: Your bionic arm.
- 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.
- Heroic Sociopath: 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.
- 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 Bionic Commando Rearmed 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 Bionic Commando 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, you could simply listen in on Enemy Chatter by going to a comm room with the right transceiver.
- 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. We never see his wife interacting with him except when he was asleep.
- Interquel: Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 takes place between Rearmed 1 and the next generation console version. Among other things it shows Spencer and Magdalene working together and sheds some light on the reasoning behind the "Bionic Purge".
- 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 Bionic Commando Rearmed: opening fire in a
neutral zoneFSA camp doesn't trigger anything.
- Played straight in Bionic Commando Rearmed: opening fire in a
- Jump Physics: Well, okay, more like swinging and arcing physics. But still.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Master D is an obvious stand in for Hitler. Bionic Commando 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.
- Man-Eating Plant: You get a slight rustling of leaves, and if you don't move, you're eaten.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mook Chivalry: Subverted in the sequel. BioReign soldiers duck and cover, attack in groups, spot you from long distances and try to kill you dead from that range if possible. The list of things they do correctly is astonishing, and it's clear from the get-go that these guys want to survive, go home and see their families. Double Subverted in that none of this manages to accomplish a damn thing.
- Mook Promotion: In the original NES game, the rival enemy bionic soldiers were simply unnamed minibosses. In the Bionic Commando 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.
- Nintendo Hard: This game is really difficult. Bionic Commando Rearmed on the hardest difficulty cranks it Up to Eleven.
- Bionic Commando 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.
- Not as You Know Them: Spencer and Joe in the sequel. In spades.
- Nuke'Em: BioReign bombs entire Ascension City which is pretty much the game's equivalent to a New York.
- Old Save Bonus: If you own both Bionic Commando Rearmed and the 2009 game on the same platform, you can unlock Spencer's "classic" Bionic Commando Rearmed skin for use in the 2009 game. Which is a good thing too, when most players vastly prefer that look.
- Obtaining a collection of secret items in Bionic Commando 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.
- 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.
- Previous Player Character Cameo: Super Joe, from the original Commando, appears briefly in the NES version.
- 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.
- 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, apparently 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.
- Right Hand of Doom: The bionic arm, not really noticeable when two pixels wide, was upgraded to a design worthy of a piece of farming equipment in Bionic Commando Rearmed and the sequel. But damn if it isn't cool as hell.
- Shotguns Are Just Better: The '09 game features an anti-tank shotgun usually aimed at infantry. The Rearmed shotgun isn't that powerful though, and mainly used to get swinging again.
- Shout-Out: Bionic Commando 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 Bionic Commando Rearmed, there's a challenge run called the "Dragon Run" which is a reference to the Mecha Dragon Boss of Mega Man 2.
- "Take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape!"
- Shut UP, Hannibal: As an Anti Frustration Feature, you're allowed to skip a boss' Boss Banter about how Spencer is just a pawn if you restart the battle enough times. This is represented in-game as Spencer literally telling him to shut the fuck up.
- 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". Bionic Commando Rearmed renames the character "Nathan Spencer", but uses "Rad" as his nickname.
- The Stinger: The 2009 Sequel. Gets bonus cryptic points for being in Morse code AND German!
- 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: Bionic Commando: 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 Remake: Every single Bionic Commando game but the very first and the very latest. The NES game was a remake of the arcade game. The Game Boy version was almost a direct remake of the original, with only a few changes, mostly an Art Shift. The Game Boy Color version added a heroine and redesigned some levels. Bionic Commando Rearmed is the last and best remake. Thankfully the madness ends there with the '09 sequel and Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 in '11.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Spencer is weighed down by his bionics and can't swim. Further, he's even more susceptible to radiation due to the sensitive electronics keeping him plugged in and bionic. While only justifying Bottomless Pits in the original and Bionic Commando Rearmed, the radiation-cloaked Ascension City is a lot more dangerous for Spencer.
- 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.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Said word by word at the end of Bionic Commando Rearmed right after Master D's revival.
- Your Head Asplode: 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 Bionic Commando 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.
- 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".