Bionic Commando Didn't Really Need To Be Re-Rearmed

Illustration for article titled Bionic Commando Didnt Really Need To Be Re-Rearmed

In 2008, GRIN released Bionic Commando Rearmed, a remake of the original 1988 NES version of Capcom's platformer. It was homage, and it was good. Why, exactly, did we need a sequel?


I mean, Bionic Commando Rearmed was a remake of the first game. There was a point to that. A second "Rearmed" game, though, with no sequel to base itself off, sounds like a project looking for a purpose. And that's exactly how the game plays.


With original developers GRIN no longer around, development on this sequel has been handled by fellow Swedes Fatshark, the team behind the underwhelming Lead & Gold (and promising Hamilton's Big Adventure). It's a big ask of the studio, because what they're essentially working on is Bionic Commando 2, the classic arcade sequel Capcom never got around to making itself.

Why You Should Care

Despite this being an all-new project, with some fundamental changes made to the Bionic Commando formula, it's still an old-school arcade experience at heart. If you like to play rough, with brutal 2D platforming, traditional boss battles and limited lives, this is definitely one of those games.


What We Liked

Music: The highlight of the first Rearmed for many, myself included, was the game's amazing soundtrack. Well, that game's composer, Simon Viklund, is back, and this game's music is just as good, full of heavy, dirty chiptunes that once again complement the mix of old-school gameplay and 21st-century graphics perfectly.


Jumping: Let's get this straight: you don't have to jump in BCR2. In fact, when you finish the game you can unlock the ability to remove the feature altogether, as the levels are designed so you don't ever need to. That said, you'll find you use it a lot, as jumps - as small as they are - are often a safer and cleaner way to navigate short obstacles than the bionic arm. Any fears that jumping would somehow "ruin" the game, making it less of a Bionic Commando experience, are unfounded; this definitely feels like a Bionic Commando game, only now you can jump quickly over barrels instead of having to laboriously yank them out of the way.


What We Didn't Like

Swinging: The heart of Bionic Commando - what separates it from every other platformer on the market - is its swinging and grappling mechanics. They're the core of the game. The first Rearmed's were a problem sometimes, yes, but in switching to a new model, Rearmed 2's are even worse. Grappling now feels "twitchier", as you have to press once to attach then again to dismount. Sounds easy, but what happens in tense platforming moments is that one accidental tap can send you crashing to your death, something I found happening a lot. Your line also appears shorter and swinging less fluid, which again makes moving around harder than it should be.

Illustration for article titled Bionic Commando Didnt Really Need To Be Re-Rearmed

Punishment: There's a fine line between designing a platforming level to be difficult and designing it to be cruel. In some cases, BCR2's stages fall into the latter category. Whenever there is water or a bottomless pit around, I lost entire continues as the grappling problems listed above made it ridiculously tough to cross certain obstacles. It often crossed the line from challenging to frustrating, and I don't want frustration in my video games.


Facsimile: The whole game feels slightly off. It's to be expected, really, since it's a sequel to a game that was a remake of a game that never had a sequel. Phew. From the character designs, which aren't as charming, to the humour, which isn't as funny, to the boss battles, which are drab and unimaginative, BCR2 often feels like you're watching the world's best Bionic Commando impersonator. It's good, sometimes indistinguishable from the original, but at times you can tell it's just not the same.

The Bottom Line

In its own right, BCR2 is fine. It's a polished, challenging and professional platformer that anyone interested in old-school games (and old-school frustration) should definitely check out. It's just, as a sequel to one of the best downloadable games ever made, it comes up short in too many key areas to make it as important - or enjoyable - a game as its predecessor.


Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 was developed by Fatshark and published by Capcom for the PlayStation Network (version played) and Xbox Live Arcade. Released on February 1 & 2 respectively.. Download only, retails for $15. A code to download the game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Completed main campaign in singleplayer, played a few levels on local co-op and tried a few of the challenge rooms.

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To Whom This Applies To:

I am a gamer soon to be in my 30's, and I have been enjoying the evolution of games since I was a very, very young child and was graced with an NES. One of my first games was Bionic Commando, and although it was an imperfect game, there was something about it that was mystical, memorable, and downright fun to play!

Two and a half years ago, CAPCOM and GRIN decided to reboot the franchise and recreate the original for a modern audience. Thus we were graced with Bionic Commando: Rearmed, one of the best game updates in history. It was awesome in just about every fashion! It still had that difficulty to it that was so mythical before, but this time around, it felt more fluid. Much more playable. It felt like the game the original should have been! Graphically, it was gorgeous. Gameplay was fantastic! Even the unexpected co-op was a nice addition. But the best addition to the franchise was the unbelievably well-balanced competitive multiplayer, particularly the game mode Don't Touch The Floor, in which players had to try and knock their opponents to the floor of the map. Everything about Bionic Commando: Rearmed was wonderful, even the hella hard Challenges. The package was full, the price was justified, and it is honestly one of the best games on the XBLA.

Now, let's talk about Bionic Commando: Rearmed 2.

I had the highest expectations for this game, considering how superb and stellar the last one was. There is no way CAPCOM and GRIN could fail! This could only get better, right? Right?!

No. H to the E to the LL NO!

The gameplay mechanics have been altered, and altered TERRIBLY. Controlling the bionic arm is a pain. The fluidity has been completely shot, and it makes doing the Challenges a pain in the a$$. And jumping? JUMPING?! Am I smoking crack here? The #1 thing that kept Bionic Commando separate from other side-scrollers was the lack of a jump button to emphasize the bionic arm and swinging. Jumping isn't just terrible in itself, it ruins the core gameplay as well. It doesn't feel natural. It genuinely feels a bit forced and unneeded.

I've played through the whole game and challenges now, and I honestly don't want to play anymore. I even played through the first chapter in local co-op, and even THAT sucks. How could they ruin something that actually worked so well in the first one? And not only that, but they've completely cut competitive multiplayer out of the game entirely. Are you kidding me?! I was at least expecting it to return, wishing it would be available to play online, but no. In this day and age, games that advertise multiplayer should definitely offer it online. Local is nice, but online on Xbox LIVE of all things is what sells a lot of games... especially in this day and age.

So let's go through the changes here:


- Jumping has been added, and it's not good.

- Controls have been completely changed, and it's not good.

- Boss fights are beyond repetitive and BORING. You basically fight bosses more than once in 3 different circumstances. That's really not good.

- Co-op is still local only, and that's not good (On top of the fact that it's not very good this time around).

- Challenge Rooms are insanely difficult (And massively reduced from 56 to 24 Challenges) because of the new and terrible controls, and that's not good.

- Competitive Multiplayer has been scrapped entirely, and that was a terrible, terrible, terrible decision.

- It costs 1200MSP for a not-so-good single player experience.


- Nathan "Rad" Spencer now has a "Rad" mustache.

- Scanning objects and boss enemies is actual a nice touch for learning what things are, even though most of it is pretty self-explanatory.

- Upgrade Menu is very nice for customizing your character real quickly.

- Graphics and music, once again, are absolutely wonderful.

There you have it, kids. Purchase at your own risk. If you really love Nathan Spencer, go ahead and 'jump' on the game, but coming from someone who truly loves the original and Rearmed, I highly advise not purchasing this until it it less than $10/800MSP. That's my honest opinion. It's just not even remotely close to worth $15/1200MSP when you can get Rearmed for $10/800MSP and it has WAY more content.

The End.