The long-awaited return of our mission to rescue Super Joe has finally arrived. Controlling Nathan “Radd” Spencer again for the first time in two decades, this updated version of Bionic Commando is pure bliss. As a veteran of the series and having completed the original Bionic Commando on the Nintendo Entertainment System, this game has brought back many memories. To those who have also played the game many years ago, you will have a great trip down memory lane. To those who were not able to play the game back then, prepare yourself for a challenging experience that revolutionized old-school platforming games. This is my official review of Bionic Commando: Rearmed for the Playstation 3.
What I Liked:
- A Nostalgic Visit to the Past: For the most part, this is an exact remake of the original version. No new elements were added to the gameplay. Instead of leaping across ledges through jumping, the player must rely on Radd’s unique bionic arm to grapple and swing across platforms in order to proceed through the stages. His bionic arm can also be used to grab onto several items in the environment, such as barrels, to throw onto nearby enemies and when upgraded, and can even grab enemies themselves and use them as human meatshields. Mastering the usage of the bionic arm may seem like an overwhelming task at first, but the more time you put into it, the faster you will be able to understand the mechanics of it.
- Graphics, welcome to the 21st Century: The graphics engine has received a tremendous upgrade from the last installment, obviously. From 8-bit sprites to gorgeous 3D graphics, Bionic Commando: Rearmed looks absolutely stunning. The animations are very smooth and the lighting definitely enhances the look of the game. Not only that, but it stays quite faithful to the original game’s color scheme. Though not as bright as the original game twenty years ago, it remains very colorful and dazzles the eyes.
- New Challengers Have Arrived: The biggest change that the developers have done to Bionic Commando: Rearmed in comparison to the last game was creating brand new bosses. Bosses are now designed in a way that the player must utilize their bionic arm to actually defeat them. One of my favorite boss battles is actually luring the boss to two ledges and using the bionic arm to unscrew their protective shell to expose the operator of the machine. I am greatly pleased that even though this is indeed an almost exact remake to the old game, they have taken the time to also upgrade the experience as well.
- Upgrades Galore: Also making its return in Bionic Commando: Rearmed is the numerous upgrades Radd collects throughout the game. From a bazooka to a plasma gun to a pair of iron boots to stomp your enemies as you swing on by, this traditional system definitely motivates the player to keep on playing through the game. As you complete each stage by destroying its boss, the player will earn a new upgrade, but they can also acquire new upgrades by going to FSA Camps (basically, camps in which your allies occupy) along the way and exploring some of the buildings in it.
- Forgiving: Unlike the original game, once you lose all your lives in this remake, you only have to start the level all over again. In the original game, you would had to have start the entire game all over again. I’m sure everyone is thankful that the developers made this a bit more user-friendly.
- Remixing the Past: Many old tunes from the original Bionic Commando game have been remixed for this game. Veterans will recognize some of these tunes and reflect back on the old days. New players will definitely appreciate the old-school techno style as well. It is quite catchy and definitely is a worthy update to the soundtrack of the game.
- Challenge Rooms: Encouraging further replayability, these rooms definitely test the player’s skills with the bionic arm. These trials give you a certain allotted time to complete them, but the further you progress, surviving seems to be the only thing that matters the most. Completing all of these rooms will definitely be a long and hard road, especially if you’re shooting for a perfect 5-star rating on all of them.
- You Won’t Have to Fight Alone: With the option of local 2-player co-op, Radd doesn’t have to fight alone through the game. With the help of another friend, getting through the game may be a tad easier. No need to worry about being separated from each other, since the game has the neat feature of automatically going to a splitscreen mode if both players are too far apart from each other to fit on the same screen. This definitely helps if one player is lagging behind.
- What Can’t Be Seen Doesn’t Mean It Isn’t There: There are secret areas within levels that can’t be normally seen. In order to access these areas, the player must be willing to accept a certain level of risk. Whether it’s getting another life or searching for a certain hidden reward, this encourages players to replay the game and explore levels even further.
- Remote Play: As if this well-made remake’s features weren’t enough, the developers have also added the Remote Play Feature to play this game on your Playstation Portable, if you have one. The controls are all pretty much the same, but it is worthy to note that you should play this on a very stable, responsive connection, since controlling the bionic arm is all about timing. Just a simple second of button lag could mean instant death.
What I Disliked:
- Work with Me, Controller: Playing this game primarily on the D-Pad, instead of the analog stick, I sometimes have odd problems controlling the direction of the bionic arm. Perhaps the problem is only exclusive to me, but sometimes when I want to shoot the bionic arm straight, it often goes diagonal which proves to be quite unfavorable in some situations. Also, the problem with tapping and holding the D-Pad also makes the difference in either consistent swinging on a single spot or swinging from one point to the next can confuse players in the amount of time they need to tap or hold the controller, which results in a loss of timing, which can prove to be devastating in this game. Not only that, but the world map even has some controller issues for me. Sometimes when I want to go through a diagonal route to a certain stage, it makes me go straight instead.
- Bottom-to-Top Vertical Stages… Again and Again: As mentioned in my previous point, the world map contains several purple trucks that move around once you move around. Bumping into them brings you to a battle with them with you moving from the bottom to the top, which was also present in the original game, but that doesn’t make it good either. The only benefit these battles have is gaining you an easy extra life, since they’re easily seen in it, but each of them is basically the same thing over and over again. Enter the battle and move to the top till you see a tank-like vehicle, destroy it and your helicopter ride will get you out of there. I wish the developers enhanced this aspect in some way so it wasn’t the same thing over and over again.
- The More The Merrier Isn’t Always So Merry: There are a variety of modes for the local 4-player head-to-head portion of this game, but none of them seem to be as exciting as going through the single player campaign with a friend. Perhaps I wanted to see more come out of this, like maybe incorporating four players in the single player mode, but that would either make the game cluttered and/or frustrating with splitscreens everywhere. I’m not too sure how I feel about this, but the option of it being there is great, no doubt about it. I believe it encourages replayability for many people who like their share of multiplayer games.
Bionic Commando: Rearmed is an almost flawless remake of the original Bionic Commando game on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Preserving what made it to be a great game back then and also improving upon it was an excellent decision among the developers. Unfortunately, some of its flaws back then have also made a come back, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons. This is also a great way to prepare yourself for the new Bionic Commando game coming in the near future for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and the PC. Definitely still a challenging, yet engaging, experience while nodding to its traditional old-school gameplay, I heavily recommend Bionic Commando: Rearmed to platformer enthusiasts to both veterans and new players alike.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Great trip through nostalgia, but with sweet visuals.
Dialog is campy, but that is all apart of the rearmed charm.