Saturday, April 2, 2011

Bionic Commando: Rearmed, Hitler: Reexploded

I picked up Bionic Commando: Rearmed for $5 in one of the many Steam sales. The original Bionic Commando is a weird game for me, not just because it is an offbeat game, but because it was not a game that I had heard of during the NES era, but it had become sort of infamous during the time emulation was new and exciting. I imagine that I'd have found it even more weird had I known about the Japanese version, the title of which translates to The Resurrection of Hitler: Top Secret. The idea of making Hitler into a resurrection-themed boss like Dracula is pretty funny. It seems completely crazy, but considering that around the same time SNK came out with an Ikari Warriors-type game based on Che Guevara, it was just a weird time.

Rearmed is almost exactly what I want from a remake of a classic 2D game. It retains all of the things that made the original cool, but also refines and enhances it. It's still a game that is all about all the fun stuff you can do with a bionic arm, but it adds new abilities and strategies. The levels are basically the same, but make use of the new skills. While I think I would prefer remakes of 2D games to be done in HD 2D art, I've grown to accept that 2D games done with 3D graphics can look really good. There have been a lot of examples of this on PSP, with Mega Man: Powered Up, Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X, and Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles.

My favorite feature of Rearmed is the trials. They are really addictive, and the determination to keep trying them until I execute the perfect series of swings and movements is really strong. They are something that in theory would be super frustrating, but in practice are a lot of fun. I like the fact the game isn't quite NES hard because I never got particularly far in the original, but the difficulty here is about where I'd want a “normal” level of difficulty to be. As an added bonus for an SNK fan such as myself, the game features artwork by Shinkirou.

The company that developed Rearmed, GRIN, is a strange one because they worked on such a variety of genres. They started out making racing games, then they made the PC versions of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 1 and 2. They made Rearmed as a method of hyping up their modern-style 360/PS3/PC Bionic Commando. As it turns out, Rearmed is a really good game, while the new one was apparently mediocre/bad. They also made licensed games for Wanted and Terminator Salvation. They went bankrupt in 2009, probably because they spent a bunch of money on trying to make big budget games instead of playing to their strengths and making more stuff like Bionic Commando: Rearmed.

Oh, and the hacking mini-game is pretty fun.

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