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Fuck the PS3 and Bionic Commando Both
The game has crashed again, erasing my data for the third time. Again, I wish I had a physical copy of the game so that I could put it in a car on a pier that is full of explosives and has a brick on the accelerator.

Given that it can be relied on to crash and erase data so frequently, I highly recommend against buying the PS3 version of Bionic Commando Rearmed.


 
Fuck a Playstation 3
Just a brief note: fuck the Playstation 3. Fuck a $500 system that fucking crashes on a regular basis. Twice now I have had the PS3 crash while Bionic Commando was saving, thus deleting my save file for the game. This past time, I lost about six eagles on the Challenge Rooms (getting those is a fucking feat, which for me / us involved hours of play) and 100% completion on the main game itself.

I would perhaps blame it on Bionic Commando, but the PS3 has also crashed at other times, such as while playing MP3s via a Media Server. This leads me to believe that the system is at fault. And no, it's not enclosed in a tight space where it overheats.

Fucking bullshit.


 
Bionic Commando Rearmed
I could swear that Bionic Commando was nowhere near as loved by gamers back when it was actually out and up for sale on the NES during the system's run as it is now. Maybe that's just because there was no internet, then, and it was between difficult and impossible to judge what games - besides the first party Nintendo ones, of course - were popular outside of your group of friends. Whether or not I'm right, though, Bionic Commando is apparently a pretty big fucking deal now, as the current-generation remake, Bionic Commando Rearmed, was downloaded by a whole lot of people for $10. As a big Bionic Commando fan (I've replayed it every several years since its release), I wasn't sure what to think, and as a dude who owns the original on Nintendo, I wasn't sure if it was worth the cash.

I think it helps the value of the game that it's pretty far from being a straight port. I could probably go on for pages about all the changes they've made - some for the better, in my estimation, some not - but I'll try not to bore you, and just hit you with the major updates instead.
  • All of the weapons have been completely reworked except the gun you start the game with. Most significantly, the rocket launcher is no longer a fast-firing overpowered weapon that takes bosses out in four shots, one second. It takes awhile to reload, no matter how close you are to the target, and if you are in fact too close, the explosion will kill you, too. You also get a third button, which throws grenades.
  • The boss fights have almost all been significantly reworked; they all have "tricks" now that you have to find out. Past that, they're pretty easy, though some (the foundry guy) are fucking annoying, in my estimation, and none of them are that fun after the first "ah-ha!".
  • You have unlimited continues from the get-go (good move).
  • The game saves. Thank fucking god - no two hour marathons to make it to the end.
  • You have a life bar from the start, and the health pills make it bigger rather than giving you a refill on use.
  • You no longer chose what to bring to each level with you; you have all your weapons and items all the time.
  • There are several secrets per stage, including power-ups and challenge rooms (more on those later).
  • The presentation has all been reworked, obviously. The sound is noise-techno based on the originals, and is well done in my opinion. Graphics are 2D-3D, and I guess they're good, but I have actually lost lives at parts because I thought the background was the foreground. Sometimes the levels get really cluttered, and it's hard to tell what matters and what's just eye candy. Additionally, some aesthetics have been reworked; the jungle level is now a snowy mountain, with bear traps instead of man-eating plants.
  • The neutral areas aren't exact copies of each other, and nobody shits a brick if you shoot in them. Actually, they're not neutral areas, anymore, they're friendly areas.
  • There's a hacking minigame that's so easy on regular mode it's almost pointless, and no badguys drop in if you fuck it up. Extras are added outside sometimes, though.

So that's the gist of it. For most of what's above, I just shrug and say, eh, it's different. Some things are worse, some are better, and it mostly evens out.

The real value of the game, however, comes in the three new added modes. The first is multiplayer, which supports up to four people at a time. You pick a stage, you pick a time and kill limit, and you go at it. You have your basic weapon and grenades, and can pick up those that drop from the top of the screen on occasion. What makes multiplayer so fun is what makes the main game so fun: the swinging mechanic. I am shocked that no one has really ripped it of in the many years and console generations since the original. Swinging around is goddamn fun. Swinging around and fitting in a well timed shotgun blast to take out the guy sitting next to you on the couch is probably even more fun. The multiplayer is not truly inspired, nor will it displace Super Smash Brothers Brawl as the multiplayer console game of choice, but it's entertaining.

Challenge Rooms are the other added mode. They throw you into a minimalist environment with wireframe graphics and a ticking clock, and tell you to get from point A to point B as fast as you can. Most have an intended solution (which can be damn hard to figure out), but some have branching paths, or multiple ways to approach the same obstacles. The average room takes between four and twenty seconds to complete, though some toward the end move more toward a minute and change. Your time is ranked against the rest of the playing population, and it is fucking mind boggling to see some of the times that people pull off. Part of the disparity between me and #1, though, comes from the fact that the challenge rooms are fucking hard. Holy fucking shit hard, in fact. Far, far, far harder than anything in the game itself. They require a degree of precision not even hinted at by Bionic Commando proper. Beating a level in Bionic Commando might require a half dozen attempts. Maybe. Some Challenge Rooms took me over fifty tries, and some I can't even fucking beat. And I'm pretty good at this game, I swear to fuck. Don't believe me when I say this shit is hard? I submit the following evidence.

The last and best added mode is two-player coop. Capcom did something that I badly wish other games would do in general: just add fucking two-player coop. Don't worry if it breaks the fucking balance, don't worry if it an entirely new experience, don't worry if the challenges in the game require you to make use of having two players, just don't fucking worry about it. If I want to play with my goddamn friend, fucking let me. Which is exactly what Bionic Commando does. If you're close enough to be on the same screen, you are, and if you're not, it splits. There are very, very minimal changes to the boss encounters, and that's it. And it is a fucking blast. Nothing tricky, nothing complicated, just the fun of swinging around and shooting bitches with a friend.

So, up to this point, my review is pretty positive, no? An old game I love, brought out of the archives, dusted off, polished up, and re-released for a fairly reasonable $10 download. The extra modes probably make it worthwhile, yeah? These were my thoughts. And then I got to the last level of the game - the completely new last level - and I wished I had a boxed copy of the game so that I could piss on it and then drop kick it into the woods. The last level is fucking terrible.

Bionic Commando - the classic version, or the untouched parts of the remake - is a pretty tough game. There are plenty of instant-death pits and spikes, and some of the swings are demanding enough that your timing must be exact. Generally, I don't have a problem with this, though, and I didn't understand why until I played the last level. The challenge is tolerable in Bionic Commando because the average level takes five minutes to beat. You die, you get a game over, big fucking deal. Just go back and do it again. No big loss, and you'll probably do better next time. Not fucking so for the last level. There are three distinct parts, with the first and third being as big as two regular levels, and the other about one. It's not five minutes to beat the last level, it's twenty of thirty. I had the first part down to the point where I didn't lose a life. Still took ten minutes, though. So when I get to the second part, and I die, and I die, and I die, and I have to go back and do it all again, I'm pretty fucking pissed off, because I have to go through all that shit that I've already done a dozen times, and I don't fucking want to again.

The last level is also an order of magnitude harder than the game proper. The two extra optional levels they added are stupid hard, but that's okay, because they're optional. Most of the Challenge Rooms are fucking stupid hard, but that's okay, because they're optional. The last level is not, and the degree of difficulty is maddening. Even worse, though, is that the new content in the game all suffers from the same problem: the level design is shit. It is weird to me that the level design from a twenty year old game is better than the modern shit, but it is. The second part, in particular - which you have to plow through ten minutes of shit to even get a shot at - is the very embodiment of shit design focused on generating frustration.

The very first time I got to the level, I walked to the left and straight off a fucking edge and to my death because it looked like the ledge kept going. But it didn't, and the graphics were crap enough that I thought the edge that kept going in the background was actually in the foreground. After that, I do some obscenely hard swinging shit across platforms that disappear and reappear, and I'm on a stable one. And I see fucking nothing at all to swing to. I lose a few men swinging wildly to the left and right, hoping to find something barely off screen. And then, finally, I realize the issue: the ledge I need to move to is in the upper left hand of the screen, where it is obscured perfectly and entirely by my health bar. Mother. Fucking. Piss. How could testing have not seen that shit? How could anyone think that a destination rendered invisible by your interface is a good idea?

I have no fucking clue, but apparently someone thought it was, because the next amazing thing you'll notice is that you're making your way across these ridiculous fucking platforms that disappear and reappear, and you keep moving, all the while this close to death, and then you get to the edge, and, again, there is fucking nowhere to go. You search for an answer as the platform next to you disappears, consider a tricky swinging move to advance more to the right hoping for more ledges off screen, and then you run out of time, the platform drops, and you fall. At which point you land on the ledge below you that you couldn't see, because it's not in fucking range of the screen. Yes, that's right, once again, your next destination is off the fucking screen. That is not fun-hard, or anything of the sort, it is fucking bullshit-hard. That is the very definition of shit level design.


So by the time I finally made my way through the rest of the grueling level, I was about ready to choke the people who remade the classic. Terrible, terrible, terrible. Only one thing worthy of note remains in the game: you might notice that the game has an M rating, despite no crude language and bloodless shooting that's more cartoon than realistic. Well, remember the end of the original? Yeah, the remake of that is what earns the M rating - five seconds of game time for an M rating - and it is hilarious.

But not enough to make the last level worth it.


 
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