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Gameman's Tale of 600 NES Games

My Bionic Commando experience starts out similar to how a lot of people got into the game I'm sure.

Back in my Cub Scout days I was at den meeting over at a friend's house. The den mother (mom who has the ungratifying task of "guiding" us) was not ready to start the meeting for reasons that my selective memory can not remember. So we all (about 8 of us) piled into my friend's room for some down time with the good ol' NES. At this point in my life I was a hopeless video game addict (still am in some regard, hence my nickname "Gameman"), and took great pleasure in absorbing it's electronic entertainment in any form possible, be it arcade, or in console form. The game that was selected was Bionic Commando.

The title screen

I can't exactly elaborate in great detail what my initial reaction upon seeing the game was, but I know for a fact that it was a very positive one. I starting asking a constant stream of questions about the game much to the chagrin of my friends. I thought the concept of swinging with a bionic arm instead of jumping was a very original and brilliant idea that challenged what at the time was conventional NES wisdom. I was also somewhat intimidated by the fact that one hit could kill your commando in the first moments of the game. I didn't know about the pseudo-experience point system that allowed you to increase your lifebar. My first look at this now classic game was short but sweet, as we were only able to play briefly before we had to dispense with the diversions and pleasantries and commence our usual, boring, scout activities. Still, it wet my appetite for things to come...

Fast forward to a year later, I was now out of scouts, and a new video store opened several blocks from my house. They had an abundant selection of NES games for rental, and every Friday since my parents signed up for membership I was able to rent a game or two like clockwork. My mother was against the idea of *buying* NES games because of their exorbitant prices, so this was the only other option for trying out the wide variety of NES software. In hindsight, I note the brilliance of this plan since it ultimately saved money and allowed me to play nearly 600 NES games.

Back to Bionic Commando....

When searching through the shelves of the rental store I noted BC as one of the games available for rent. Naturally I was overjoyed since this meant that I could finally play for myself the game that I was so mesmerized with only a year earlier. I didn't get very far in the game since the controls were a little unfamiliar and I wasn't very good. Also, of course, because I only got to play it only for a day and a half.

Although I enjoyed that game, I never stuck with any one game for long, and I was ready to move on to other conquests from the rental store.

A year of so later, I received that game as a birthday present from my now-estranged sister, and immediately set forth to rediscovering it. Alas, I still was a mediocre player in many respects, although this time I had enough time to make it to the obnoxious level 6 which was a bitch to defeat. I wanted to explore other areas of the game, but was told that I didn't have enough power to proceed without defeating level 6.

Is there anyone who didn't hate this level?

I can't remember if I beat level 6 on my own or not, but I do know that I managed to rent a Game Genie so it could work it's magic on my pathetic game playing skills. Now I was able to abandon most of the games rigor's and enjoy the intricate (for someone my age) storyline. Unfortunately, using the invincibility code screwed up the game's wonderful musical score (I don't know if anybody else experienced this?), but I was still able to beat the game nonetheless.

At great risk of making my story sound cliché, I too was very amused and surprised to see Master D (I wasn't sharp enough to see the Hitler correlation at the time) use the word damn, and literally shocked at the affair with his exploding cranium. Although I now know that Capcom censored the game, it's very intriguing how Nintendo let these occurrences slip by. Not since the implied sex scenes in the Golgo 13 NES games had I seen something even potentially offensive in a NES cart. Nintendo was a stickler for maintaining a conservative, squeaky-clean image. Another aspect that some people fail to notice is the pendant shaped as a cross. As some may be aware, Nintendo was very careful not to allow or even hint at any specific religion, and the pendant was quite clearly a Christian symbol.

Bionic Commando also had one of the best ending for a NES cart I've ever seen to date. Only Ninja Gaiden comes close, and after the first two games, it started to get old because of the similarities (I mean, honestly, if you've even beaten all three NG games it's like they're following a template for christsakes).

Eventually the magic wore off, and I ended up selling my NES games and control deck to a friend of my dad's from his workplace. However, to this very day, Bionic Commando remains one of the best NES games I've ever played, and a stand out from *all* the games I've played regardless of platform.

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