"Let me tell you about the game I played when I was still young..." Growing up, I was familiar with the name Bionic Commando, although I'd never played it for myself. I've had lots of conversations with friends about old games, and they'd reminisced about some game with a guy that swung around on a grappling arm. Yet strangely enough, none of my friends could remember what the game was called. When it was announced that Bionic Commando was to receive a re-imagining, I finally was able to match that game my friends loved, with the title. With the hype for the new game, I caught my first glimpse of the old 8-bit classic in promotional videos, and I really felt like I'd missed out on something special. But my disappointment quickly turned to anticipation when it was later revealed that the game would also be remade in 2D for download on all the popular home consoles!
But not the Wii!
(sound of crickets)
Long-time Nintendo fans love to remember the old times, but we don't hold dear the memories of being repeatedly snubbed out of multiplatform ports. With GlovePIE running and Wiimote in hand, I turned to the PC version of Bionic Commando: Rearmed.
I actually purchased Rearmed via the PSN first, because I figured the Playstation controller at least had a functional D-pad, which is vital for classic 2D gaming. Xbox 360 owners who've played Street Fighter II or Lumines know what I'm talking about when I say that D-pad needs some work. Anyway, I started playing Rearmed and discovered that it wasn't just waxing nostalgic. This was the real deal down to the near-crippling legacy controls of a hardware-limited era. The NES control pad was an evolution beyond the nightmarish input devices before it, but it was extremely primitive compared to today's tech. We take for granted being able to press a diagonal direction on our D-pads and have the game respond to it, but the poor old NES pad was unreliable in that respect. Bionic Commando didn't use diagonal controls, and the less-than-intuitive control scheme developed for it was carried over to Rearmed. Following the example of my hero, the Lorax, who spoke for the trees, I take it upon myself to speak for the Wiis. I set out to prove that the Wii is most certainly worthy of a slice of this pie, by virtue of its controller.
What did I change to make it Wii-riffic? Well, not much. I tried several motion and tilt control schemes, and found myself playing for long stretches of time, at the end of which I realized I kept reverting to the old digital controls. Rearmed has weapon switching and a few more controls, so I had to map grenade-tossing to a shake of the Wiimote. But like the sweet and pure Smash Bros. formula, Bionic Commando doesn't need to be messed with. Sure, its unintuitiveness is not going to win over any "soccer moms," but this kind of game was never intended to.
It takes a little practice to get the hang of things (no pun intended - honest!), and there's a deliberate learning curve to master the timing for deploying your grapple arm and swinging, but the effort you must put in is what makes this game so fun. We have to take care not to let these types of games go extinct, or our children will have no reason to throw their controllers across the room in frustration.
J = True
J = False
Down = Wiimote.Left
Up = Wiimote.Right
Left = Wiimote.Up
Right = Wiimote.Down
K = Wiimote.One //Fire
L = (Wiimote.RelAccZ > 4) //Shake to throw grenades
O = Wiimote.A //Change weapon 1
I = Wiimote.B //Change weapon 2
U = Wiimote.Plus //Inventory menu
Escape = Wiimote.Minus //Pause
Shift + P + I + E = Wiimote.Home //Stop script running
Bionic Commando Rearmed was created as a fun project to help promote the upcoming remake. It runs on the same
Capcom multiplatform Framework engine as the remake Diesel engine* which, unfortunately doesn't include the Wii in its supported platforms. However, Dead Rising was built on that same engine, and it's getting ported over to the old Resident Evil 4 engine. An engine so technically impressive needs a skilled team to build it, and I believe the folks at GRIN should have no trouble tackling a Wii-specific game. We can hold onto hope for some BC-lovin', but why do we deserve it? Well, we've got a functional d-pad for starters! Maybe throw in some diagonal controls to soften the learning curve for our console's market. It doesn't need rolling, pitching, or infrared sensor controls to be a fit for the Wii. With the Wii it's already got a proven market of nostalgics who've spent their hard-earned Wii points on Virtual Console classics and the retro-stylized Mega Man 9.
I know GRIN is hard at work finishing up the new Bionic Commando, and there's no chance of a Virtual Console port of the original, but wouldn't you, dear reader, love to play Bionic Commando WiiArmed?
Update: Thanks go to Cedge for supplying the correct name of the engine GRIN is using to make its Bionic Commando games.
Every other week, Mike Sylvester brings you REVOLUTIONARY, a look at the wide world of Wii possibilities. Ever since the Nintendo 64, we've been bypassed when it came to mainstream multiplatform games, but now we have a console that's got the essentials for one port in particular ... and we still aren't getting it! But alas, this one franchise may continue to forego us forever and defy us indefinitely, as it's already been Virtually Overlooked.