Bionic Commando logo

U.S. Gold/Capcom
Price: £24.99

Paratroopers? Ha, nothing but a bunch of wimps! Marines? Couldn't even eat a whole bowl of Shreddies in one go! No, if you want to know who the hardest, meanest, roughest, toughest bunch of soldiers in the galaxy are, you need look no further than Bionic Commando, the latest Capcom coin-op conversion courtesy of U.S. Gold.

The world is under threat by aliens so it's time to call up the BC's. What sets these bionic chappies apart from regular soldiers is the fact that they've all got a rather nifty metallic arm that's useful for all kinds of things.

The alien stronghold that you must penetrate is split into five levels. The forest is the first, and so it's here that you parachute into at the outset of the game. The ground may be tempting just to run around on at first, but before long you'll want to get up on to all those tempting tree branches above you, so hit the fire button and point the stick up and lo and behold, your bionic arm springs out and grabs the above branch. Pull up and the arm will now retract, pulling you on to the branch. You can also get over gaps by throwing your arm out at a diagonal and swinging across in true Tarzan fashion.

As you'd expect, each level is patrolled by hordes of marauding nasties who'd like nothing more than to destroy you. The standard troops are pretty small, dress in stylish purple uniforms, and have a tendency to shoot and lob grenades at you. To get rid of these troublesome enemies, you can either shoot them with your bionic cannon or opt for the much more entertaining method of kneeling down and sending out your bionic arm to knock them off their feet.

More deadly enemies come in the form of larger, more muscle-bound soldiers who require several shots to kill, and birds, which fly at you as you get further into each level. As if a thirty foot bionic arm wasn't enough to destroy the nasties with, extra weapons parachute in from time to time and can be collected to provide more devastating firepower, and higher speed.

Although the first level is relatively simple to negotiate, the others can be a real bitch to complete. Later levels see the arrival of dive-bombing helicopters, disappearing platforms, and robot-like stompers. Seeing as you are only given about three minutes to complete each level (not a lot) and only five commandos to do them with, it all adds up to a tough game to crack.

It has to be said that Bionic Commando has been translated really quite well from the coin-op. The graphics are close, but not that impressive in their own right (the coin-op wasn't too impressive in the first place). The scrolling seems to have been a bit of a botched job.
Rather than continuous scrolling, keeping the main sprite in the centre, it works on 'walk a bit -scroll- walk a bit -scroll-' technique that can at times be quite infuriating. In direct contrast to the average graphics, the sound has to be some of the best I've heard on the Amiga so far. There are no FX, but each level has its own tune, and level one particularly has a wonderfully jolly bit of salsa featuring some excellent instrument samples.

In terms of gameplay BC isn't the most rewarding game I've played, but it's still enjoyable enough to hold your interest for a good while to come, as 'just one more go' addictiveness is certainly in evidence.

Bionic Commando logo

GO!, £24.99

Ten years ago, alien forces invaded planet Earth (although I can't say I noticed. No, that's silly. Forget I said it). They began to drain the planet of its valuable resources, leaving behind nothing but desolation. Since these forces now control the food and water supplies, they have been able to impose a tyrannical rule over the human race, threatening the use of a powerful missile to destroy the globe if their needs are not met.

An elite fighting force has been in secret training and is now ready to defeat the cruel alien leaders. These are... the Bionic Commandos.

Soldiers are hand picked and brought to the peak of physical fitness to deal with any eventuality. After this training they are given a further advantage; every Commando is fitted with an extending bionic arm, useful for climbing and swinging through trees, swatting enemies and catching objects.

You play the part of one of these Commandos, heading the infiltration team into the enemy base. The game begins with you being dropped by parachute into the forest at the entrance to the enemy stronghold. The forest is patrolled by troops of enemy soldiers, armed with grenades and rifles, as well as killer bees and deadly flying creatures that biff you from above.

If you can survive this, you then travel into the aliens' castle dodging robots and cannons, followed by the base itself. At the end of the fifth stage lies the central launching computer, the destruction of which should ensure the safety of the human race.

Gordon Houghton I bought an Amiga secure in the knowledge that any 16-bit arcade conversion would be pretty damned close to the coin-op original. The launch of Bionic Commando has proved to me that this is most certainly not the case, because, quite frankly, the game is utter pigeon-poo. The backgrounds and sprites are passable and the sound is quite pleasant, but the gameplay is crippled by unfair attack patterns right from level one and the worst use of Amiga screen scrolling I've seen to date. Swinging the bionic arm out half a dozen times just to see a branch does not, in my opinion, make for heaps of playability. I could do better swinging myself with a bit of clothes line and a tent peg (but that's not advisable at home, kids!). Play the 64 version if you can, but if you can't, that's still no excuse for wasting money on the Amiga version.
Paul Glancey What have GO! done to the game that I enjoyed so much on the 64? What aggravates me most is the fact that the tragic ruin of the gameplay is the screen scrolling, which I would have thought was easily accomplished with the powerful graphics hardware inside the Amiga. Extending the grappling claw to something off-screen leaves the program bewildered as it can't scroll fast enough, so it quickly shunts the screen a few pixels in the required direction and retracts the arm before it can grab something. When you finally do get a claw-hold (several extensions later), you've probably been overrun by enemy soldiers who've suddenly appeared from the new screen section. The bad scrolling also affects weapons collection as shooting goodies frequently drops them into a corner of the screen, so of course, one step in the wrong direction can result in them scrolling into oblivion. Graphics and sound don't reach the standard I would have expected either - all in all, a very disappointing conversion.