Friday, November 23, 2012

"Bionic Commando", NES, 1988.

OK, note to self -- posts about ads for hardware are unpopular, except with spambots in the comments section. So let's revisit recent territory -- Bionic Commando, who incorporates the hardware into his software presence!
Bionic Commando.
Experience the Power of a One-Man Army.
Get set for rapid fire action as you're transformed into the Bionic Commando. This best-seller from Capcom is a dynamic adaptation of the original arcade classic. Expect an onslaught of challenges and extraordinary graphics when you battle enemy forces in their futuristic lands. Your powerful extending bionic arm and incredible arsenal of weapons gives you all you need to become an unstoppable one-man army.
To the most daring soldiers, this might seem an impossible test, but they've never experienced the power of Bionic Commando!
  • Bionic arm extends, providing unbelievable power and strength.
  • Earn the weapons necessary to battle enemy forces.
  • Bionic Command offers some of the best high resolution graphics available.
  • This is a challenge for even the best video game players!
Again, they stress the arcade origins of the franchise to people who never played it and consequently will not notice the significant differences this NES version has from it. (That's why we call it a "dynamic adaptation"... very dynamic!) And another question -- is the bionic commando really bionic or is his grappling arm just a machine he wears outside his body, making him a kind of ... prosthetic private? (I know, I'm coming down with all the hard-hitting questions everyone else has been afraid to ask.)
Oh, I say! How embarrassing to overlook -- the body text in this ad is identical to that in the previous ad, except that it offers some bullet points at the end. Just as well I figured that out as soon as I did before seeing just how much fresh blood I could squeeze from this particular stone the second time around. ("Am I repeating the same points too much?") Plus now I get to speculate regarding what factors inspired Capcom to run -the same ad- in two different permutations. (It's not like they could use a referral code to determine which ad was more successful with consumers...) Less emphasis on the box art here, more on setting the box in a setting seemingly torn from the "pages" of the game. (When the Bionic Commando needs to unwind -- no, relax, not unspool his grapple -- he heads to a neutral UN area and relaxes with a round or two of Bionic Commando. Sadly, he is a tremendous narcissist.)
OK, let's look at the new bullet point business:
  • I agree with the first note regarding the bionic arm -- that it extends -- but not so much with the exposition. Unbelievable power and strength? Can be used to block bullets and will not break under the porky commando's body weight. That's not unbelievable, it's the minimum level of function needed to make the mission possible at all.
  • Earning the necessary weapons doesn't sound as fun as just being granted access to them. If I, the one-man-army, really am your last, best, hope to tame the menace of the Badds, then why require me to grind just to obtain the materials required? This is the capitalist system we're fighting to uphold: no free rides, even for heroes. It's as bad as the under-equipped Russian army in WWI, in which gunless soldiers were instructed to retrieve weapons from the previous, slain, line of Russian soldiers for their own use.
  • I'm not really in a position to judge the quality of its high-resolution graphics vis a vis what else was on the market at the time, but I can corroborate the rumours of its challenge level -- I got to watch friends play this on loan back in the day, but watch only after my first attempt at grapple use ended up as you might imagine, at the bottom of a bottomless pit, ending my turn within about five seconds. My alleged friends refused to allow me to jeopardize any more of the precious in-game lives, so naturally I never got any better at manipulating that bionic grapple. Once you got the knack of it, pretty much an unprecedented new way of navigating video game space at the time, you can comport yourself aerobatically almost indefinitely, deliberately provoking the UN peacekeepers for kicks... but until you grok it, you will always get killed at the very first moat you encounter.