Commodore User

Bionic Commando

Author: Gary Whitta
Publisher: Capcom
Machine: Amiga 500

Published in Commodore User #60

Bionic Commando

Paratroopers? Ha, nothing but a bunch of wimps! Marines? Couldn't even eat a whole bowl of Shreddies in one go! No, if you want to know who the hardest, meanest, roughest, toughest bunch of soldiers in the galaxy are, you need look no further than Bionic Commando, the latest Capcom coin-op conversion courtesy of US Gold.

The world is under threat by aliens, so it's time to call up the bionic commandoes. What sets these bionic chappies apart from regular soldiers is the fact that they've all got a rather nifty metallic arm that's useful for all kinds of things.

The alien stronghold that you must penetrate is split into five levels. The forest is the first, and so it's here that you parachute into at the outset of the game. The ground may be tempting just to run around on at first, but before long you'll want to get up on to all those tempting three branches above you, so hit the fire button and point the stick up and - lo and behold - your bionic arm springs out and grabs the above branch. Pull up and the arm will now retract, pulling you on to the branch. You can also get over gaps by throwing your arm out at a diagonal and swinging across in true Tarzan fashion.

Bionic Commando

As you'd expect, each level is patrolled by hordes of marauding nasties who'd like nothing more than to destroy you. The standard enemy troops are pretty small, dress in stylish purple uniforms and have a tendency to shoot and lob grenades at you. To get rid of these troublesome enemies, you can either shoot them with your bionic cannon or opt for the much more entertaining method of kneeling down and sending out your bionic arm to knock them off their feet. More deadly enemies come in the form of larger, more muscle-bound soldiers who require several shots to kill, and birds, which fly at you as you get further into each level. As if a thirty-foot bionic arm wasn't enough to destroy the nasties with, extra weapons parachute in from time to time and can be collected to provide more devastating firepower, and higher speed.

Although the first level is relatively simple to negotiate, the others can be a real bitch to complete. Later levels see the arrival of divebombing helicopters, disappearing platforms, and robot-like stompers. Seeing as you are only given about three minutes to complete each level (not a lot!) and only five commandoes to do them with, it all adds up to a tough game to crack.

It has to be said the Bionic Commando has been translated really quite well from the coin-op. The graphics are close, but not that impressive in their own right (the coin-op wasn't too impressive in the first place). The scrolling seems to have been a bit of a botched job. Rather than continuous scrolling, keeping the main sprite in the centre, it works on 'walk a bit-scroll-walk a bit-scroll' technique that can, at times, be quite infuriating. In direct contrast to the average graphics, the sound has to be some of the very best I've heard on the Amiga so far. There are no FX, but each level has its own tune, and level one particularly has a wonderfully jolly bit of salsa featuring some excellent instrument samples. In terms of gameplay, Bionic Commando isn't the most rewarding game I've played, but it's still enjoyable enough to hold your interest for a good while to come, as 'just one more go' addictiveness is certainly in evidence.

Gary Whitta

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