Capcom is in real danger of shooting itself in the foot here. As well as its big-budget re-imagining of Bionic Commando, it is also releasing Bionic Commando Rearmed as a cheaply-priced download. It could be one of the best downloads for the service yet. Whereas Bionic Commando features a lavish 3D wasteland and a modernised, dreadlock-cultivating Nathan Spencer, Rearmed is a simpler, more humorous affair; a nod to a time when games weren’t burdened by the pressures of huge marketing spends, big development teams and internet flame-grilling.
Spencer has a ginger bouffant for godsakes. Rearmed succeeds because we couldn’t help smiling all the way through it. Even when we were groaning at its occasional trickier moments, the good feeling shines through. From start to end, it’s a meticulously crafted homage to what made the NES original so much fun – and that’s the keyword, fun. It’s one of the only games this side of MGS4 whose intro screen we’ve watched all the way through. It’s funny. It’s daft. It’s only about a minute long. Getting into the game proper and the immediate draw is the slick animation of Spencer and the colourful ambience of each level. Guards look like Prince’s backing band, while each area, scrolling along left to right (and up and down), has a neat semi-3D appearance. Rearmed is a game where the hero wears shades into battle, surfs through levels on big purple globs of slime and shoots a chained hook from his arm. Its design is irreverent and loveable.
That bionic arm would be a jump button in any other platformer, and is what gives this its, well, hook. Gaps in the way ahead are swung across, ledges above are clung onto, obstacles are grappled out of the way of and enemies are hurled out of the screen. Still, we found it a little cumbersome to get the knack of before brushing up on the ancient art of pixel-perfect positioning. Charm, ROFLs, bazookas, top-down segments, big bosses and old-school frustration. A marker has been laid for its bigger brother.
Aug 12, 2008