Bionic Commando: Rearmed is a re-creation of the classic NES game in which you use your bionic arm to swing around the levels and clamber around like a futuristic Tarzan. In the game, you play as Nathan Spencer, the Bionic Commando of the title, who’s mission is to fight through enemy Imperial camps to find “Super Joe,” one the FSA’s top agents and your mentor.
You have to fight all sorts of security measures to get to the big boss at the end. You have to avoid mines, destroy tanks, turrets and dodge floating explosives. Each area has a different selection of enemies put in place to hinder your attempts at disrupting the Imperial’s production and finding the missing agent. The majority of the levels are faithful to the original NES games, but the bosses seem completely new.
To get to each area, you control a helicopter on a numbered grid and have to fly to the different points on the grid. Some of the numbered areas are friendly camps where you can land, pick up special items as well as unlock challenge rooms, which I’ll talk about later. The other numbered grids are enemy camps, where you’re dropped in and have to fight your way to the end. If you cross one of the enemy convoys as you fly around, you’re thrown into a top down shooter where you must destroy the Anti Aircraft Gun at the end of the level to proceed. It is a nice change of pace from the usual side scrolling levels and allows an easy way to pick up some nice power ups.
The game, aside from the above “Meet The Enemy” sections, is a side scrolling shooter. This may seem like something you’ve seen before, but the inability for Nathan to jump adds a whole new level to the game. Instead of jumping, you have to use your bionic arm to swing, climb and slide around the level. At first, the bionic arm can take some getting used to, especially when it doesn’t go in the direction you want it to. But after the first level, the swinging feels natural and is a lot easier to get to grips with than it first seemed. The enemy AI really makes the game tougher too. They’ll look for cover away from you or stand ground depending on how you’re playing, which really makes you think about how you approach a situation a bit more than you normally would.
During the levels, you have to reach a comms station to unlock the door to the boss as well as get a mission update. From here, you can also hack into the enemies communications to discover weaknesses about the boss for that level. To hack, you have to go through a nice little puzzle in which you must direct a ball into a green cube. It may sound simple, but it takes some getting used to, especially on the harder difficulties. As I said, at the end of the level is a boss. These are your usual over-the-top bosses that are huge in size. Each one has it’s own flaw that you can use to kill it. Once you figure out the flaw, it doesn’t seem that much of a challenge until the boss starts to change it’s patterns and you have to rethink your strategy.
If you fancy a challenge, you can access the Challenge Rooms you unlock in the game through the main menu. Here you work through a series of rooms which require some thinking to get through them in the fastest time possible. These are a fantastic addition because I found myself replaying them over and over to work up the leaderboards, each time smashing my previous time.
You can also play co-op with a friend, which allows you to flank enemies and generally cause more swinging mayhem. If one player falls out of sight, the screen automatically changes to a splitscreen. However, on the “Meet The Enemy” sequences, it felt a bit clumsy and started to get annoying.
The game looks gorgeous. The graphics are totally revamped from the NES version, with this one using a 2.5D feel, utilizing superb lighting and animation. The soundtrack is absolutely fantastic too. It consists of electronic revamped version of the chiptune soundtrack featured in the NES original. It’s a damn catchy soundtrack that you can just sit and listen to for ages.
Bionic Commndo Rearmed is quite a tough game, just like the original. It is an almost faithful recreation of the NES classic that made me feel like the developer and Capcom really knew what they were doing. Bionic Commando is not as amazing as the recently released Braid, but it is up there as one of the best Xbox LIVE Arcade titles available. Once again, The Summer of Arcade dishes us another fantastic game!