XBLA Review: Bionic Commando Rearmed

Capcom delivers another hit, one that goes BOOM!

Bionic Commando® Rearmed sees a return of the intense 2-D side-scrolling, shooting, and grappling action from the much-loved 1988 Bionic Commando. Bionic Commando Rearmed brings the amazing gameplay up to date with stunning new visuals, new weapons, online rankings, and a reworked musical score just for starters.

Bionic Commando Rearmed delivers two-player co-op, a frenetic multiplayer mode for up to four players, and a series of over 50 devious challenge rooms to test your swinging skills.

Wire-tapping the enemy communication in Bionic Commando Rearmed will give you access to information about weaknesses for the newly-designed Imperial bosses in the game. Play Bionic Commando Rearmed to unlock the original NES character costume and use it in Bionic Commando.

  • Classic gameplay: Experience the classic Bionic Commando gameplay focused around the use of the bionic arm.
  • Multiplayer modes: Team up or go All vs. All in multiplayer modes, including Last Man Standing, Death Match, and the intriguingly named Don’t Touch the Floor.
  • Updated graphics: The game has received a total modern visual revamp, including dynamic shadows, particle effects, and environmental damage.
  • Cross-game interoperability: Complete specific parts of Bionic Commando Rearmed to unlock new content and hints for the Bionic Commando sequel.
  • Visual style: The in-game art was designed by one of Capcom’s most talented artists, Toshiaki Mori.
    I never played the original Bionic Commando as it came out the year I was born. But having seen videos of Rearmed, I had high hopes for it. But it wasn’t the game I was expecting, the first noticeable thing is that there is no jump and it takes some getting used to, and you may wonder why that is. Well, the game was designed to be that way and the team wanted to stay true to the original, it’s meant to be played this way and it works once you figure it out.

    The story revolves around you trying to rescue a soldier by the name of “Super Joe” from the clutches of the Imperial forces through a number of stages. Essentially each stage follows a pattern, blast your way to the boss and then move on but sometimes it’s not that simple, sometimes you’ll need items to progress through levels and will remain unattainable until you do.

    Swinging is perhaps the largest aspect of the game, all thanks to your bionic-arm you can blast at walls and swing across, pull things down or grab items. At first, the controls for swinging seemed a little odd and confusing but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be a pro. There are tons of testing arenas for swinging with a time limit to make and will earn you an achievement if you do them.

    Boss fights are generally easy, although the later ones like the one in the first screenshot can be tough since you have to propel things back at it using your bionic arm, learning its pattern based on flashing lights around the circle and then blasting it to bits when it’s out of ammo. Earlier fights can be over in seconds once you work out the weak spot and capitalise on it with a bazooka.

    There are also a few extra levels thrown into the mix that were never in the original, so the game definitely has a ton of new content for fans. There’s also local two player co-op, online would have been nice but as I discovered on Major Nelson’s podcast, the reason for it not being there is that the game was designed as a single player experience and was almost finished when they added in local co-op, adding online functionality might have totally messed the game up, so at least we got local co-op instead of nothing.

    The new graphical upgrade to Bionic Commando is pretty amazing, especially if you see any comparison videos floating around the web. The soundtrack is also quite catchy and fits the overall feel of the game well. The gameplay can be somewhat flawed at times thanks to the bionic arm, you can mostly swing all the time but if you shoot upwards you can only pull yourself up unless you have the shotgun so you can descend and shoot another swing cable.

    In the original, once you got the Bazooka you would kick some major arse. Rearmed has balanced that and let you carry all weapons with you in each stage, but the bazooka has a major impact damage if you stand too close when firing, so you need to extra careful when using it. Personally, I prefer using the revolver until I get to boss fights.

    Besides the mayhem of shooting and swinging, there are also computer terminals which you can access and hack to listen into imperial communication, the hacking itself is a 3D box with a ball and some smaller boxes inside, the object is to place the ball in the green box using the other boxes to land on and plant it, it sounds complicated but it’s actually very simple. The comm chatter from enemies is also quite funny with lines like “rolf” and the reply, “Stop laughing and get off the floor!”

    The Verdict

    Bionic Commando Rearmed is a fun and enjoyable side-scrolling shooter with platform elements. It reawakens interest in the franchise and gives you some bonuses towards the upcoming next-gen version. The Summer of Arcade has been so strong and this is another title to confirm it.