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Editor’s Note: Fun topic here. You know, the original Bionic Commando is indeed a tough game, but that didn’t dissuade me from playing it back in the day — I just assumed all Nintendo games were supposed to be that hard or have a steep learning curve. But man, once you get the hang of those controls…. -Greg
When I first played Bionic Commando (the original), I absolutely hated the game. It was not intuitive; rather, it was obtrusive and offensive. Mario can jump and he’s a fat, mustachioed, pasta-eating plumber, yet I’m supposed to be some sort of special commando with a bionic arm but can’t freakin’ lift my own body weight off the ground? I decided to go ahead and swing on past this one.
Fast-forward to Bionic Commando: Rearmed.
"Man, this game looks sick!" I thought. "I can’t wait to download some of that upgraded graphical snazziness and updated, surely-better-than-the-original gameplay. They won’t be leavin’ out no jump button this time — that would be like if Ziff Davis sold out to UGO and then UGO shut down EGM. ROFLOLing. Capcom ain’t that dumb."
‘Course I was wrong. But it was not as bad as I thought. This time, being a bit older and not having a preconceived idea of how I think a game should play, I gave this remake a shot with fresh eyes and an open mind.
I was instantly impressed by how they recaptured that old-school 2D gameplay that we don’t see enough of anymore. The graphics were solid, the animation fantastic. The controls took some getting used to, but once I got the basics down, I respected the depth and complexity of what is possible without a jump button. Just look at the in-game leaderboards and you’ll agree: Some people have mastered the controls.
Lesson learned: Don’t always dismiss a game because you don’t "get it" on your first go-round. Sometimes a deliberate design decision helps you master a game by forcing you to play it the way you are meant to — for better or worse.
Although I plan on at least giving Bionic Commando (the new one) a shot, I know one thing: I really don’t mind that my character can’t jump.
What games have you dismissed but then given a second shot, only to find that it is actually a really good game?