Capcom’s latest re-invention of one of their old arcade classics may strike a chord with several gaming veterans, particularly those who owned Microcomputers in the 8 or 16-bit era. Y’see, this game – Bionic Commando – was actually one of the better arcade conversions back in the day.
Featuring an athletic trooper rigged out with a retractable grapple-arm and a gun, the gameplay was simple and approachable but could be quite punishing and tough. Some of the best gaming moments on the humble Commodore 64 were largely thanks to Bionic Commando.
Spinning forward to the here and now, Bionic Commando: Re-armed is a proper HD-fuelled homage to the classic arcade game that doesn’t deviate too much from the essential core gameplay elements but at the same time brings a whole new depth and dimension to the graphics, the challenges and each enemy-packed level.
After some brief tutorial missions to get you up to speed with how the new game works, you’ll soon be attacking the game proper. The main Commando is athletic and infinitely controllable within certain constraints built in to make the game a little more challenging. The general gist is to work your way through a veritable vertical maze of platforms, barrels and nasty gun-toting goons without landing yourself in the soup (in this case, nasty patches of water. Why won’t someone ever teach these elite commandos to swim?)
Grappling a platform above you will allow you to zip and climb up. The bionic arm can also be used as an offensive weapon, either directly (by smashing it into oncoming troops) or indirectly (by grappling special blue barrels and hurling them at the enemy).
Various score bonuses and health tokens can be picked up as you progress.
The original game hasn’t just been translated; it’s been improved upon in several ways. Firstly there are the various machine rooms dotted around. Hacking the computers therein will garner you more information about bringing down the enemy’s iron grip and may also net you achievements and bonuses. The hacking game is a rotational puzzle that starts off simply when you first set out, but gets ever more complex as you progress through the game’s levels.
In addition to the puzzle rooms there are some absolutely exquisite top-down combat sections going further to give Commando players something to get all nostalgic about. It’s a pity that the developers of Commando 3: Wolf of the Battlefield didn’t check out what was going on here first before putting out the aforementioned game, as these tiny little birds-eye view sections are actually infinitely more playable and satisfying than WOTB ever was.
Without going too far into spoiler territory, the bosses you’ll meet are challenging and tough without feeling impassable. The game’s lovingly presented with such a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour, not taking itself too seriously with ridiculous overblown plot mangling, in fact it’s worth checking out each and every computer in the game just to laugh at some of the dialogue that takes place between the enemy commanders.
With puzzle challenge rooms adding to the main game, player-generated levels and an online high score system, the game’s a peach make no mistake.
Bionic Commando: Re-armed sets a high standard for the rest of the retro re-treads and at least gives us hope that Capcom might make a better job of any future remakes of their old IPs. A complete bargain at £6.99 and far prettier and nicer than your average arcade offering. We wholeheartedly recommend you grab a copy from the PSN store today.