Games | NES | Bionic Commando: An Abortive Guide: This document began life as a Bionic Commando walkthrough for NES, but after about two sentences I became bored with the idea of a walkthrough and it began to mutate into something much stupider. The next day I shut down my site, wracked with despair over how meaningless my life had become. True story!

War is hell, or so the saying goes. That must be why the Federation sent a single man into the top-security citidel of the Empire to put an end to their dastardly schemes, rather than wiping them out with a full-scale army invasion. After watching "Saving Private Ryan," it probably seemed like the best course of action at the time. Sadly, though, the hero of the Federation, Super Joe - best known for his stellar one-man performance in the arcade hit Commando - wasn't quite the hero the Federation needed, seeing as he managed to get his sorry butt captured.

Not learning a single thing from their previous, unsuccessful "tactics," the Federation sends a second lone man after Joe. But this time they've upped the odds -- instead of sending a lone solider armed only with a machinegun, they've sent a lone solider armed only with a machinegun and a grappling hook. (He can't jump, mind you.) As the Bionic Commando, it's your mission to rescue Joe and help put an end to the sinister machinations of the Empire. Watch out for the midgets!

Mission Start! Area One

Area One is, as with all first levels in video games, remarkably easy. But danger lurks! There's a scary elevator here, and it's out to destroy Captain Ladd.

As Captain Ladd Spencer, the mighty Bionic Commando, descended into Badd territory, the enemy was strangely absent. Could his foes be preparing an ambush? Surely at any moment he would be beseiged by a party of angry warriors and savagely pummelled as they fought to drive him away from the secret location of Super Joe! But no. It seems this was not the case. Area 1 was a remote outpost crewed by only mental incompetents and utter morons. Case in point: the soldiers in this area simply walked around idly, firing rarely. Occassionally, their amoeboid brains would say to them: "Jump to the next level!" And so after a few moments of twitching, they would do so.

Captain Ladd was able to make short work of these primitive fellows, and it was a good thing, too, because the Captain was a bit of a wimp. Unlike most of his video game friends such as Megaman and Simon Belmont, a single gunshot would kill him. Luckily, Ladd noticed that enemies dropped bullets when they died, and that collecting those bullets would give him additional endurance. "Could this be an application of the phrase what does not kill us, makes us stronger?" the Captain wondered.

Ladd gritted his 8-bit digitized teeth and braced up as he swung across the watery gap in the level. Cleverly, he had contacted his crewmen via the communication terminal at the top of the base, and they somehow had unlocked the base entrance for him. But all was not well for the Captain. As he tapped into enemy communication, he overheard a Badd soldier warn his superior, "Commander, beware the elevator." This warning sent chills down the captain's spine. Could this be a nefarious plot? Was this what Super Joe had set off to discover - super-powered elevators that rampaged out of control? Were these the superweapon Ladd had heard discussed in whispered voices and the mission briefing? But wait... if the elevator posed a threat to the enemy, perhaps it could be persuaded to become an ally! Yes, that would be a brilliant twist of irony: bringing down the Badd Empire from within using their own technology!

Smiling with self-satisfaction, Captain Ladd entered the interior of the base and stepped onto a platform, which instantly dropped him to his death. As he watched the spikes below rush to greet him, he suddenly understood the enemy's cryptic warning: the elevator was broken. Curses!

Luckily, the top of the elevator shaft was a respawn point and Captain Ladd still had 2-Up. He stepped once more onto the elevator, but this time cleverly swung into a nearby alcove using his super-rad bionic arm as the elevator fell. Inside the alcove was another comm room. Again, he spoke to his comrade in arms, who told him in a voice racked with poorly-translated English, "Area 4 is an arsenal. Maybe we can find good weapon we can use."

Though his comrade's advice was barely coherent, Ladd nodded politely nonetheless. "Sounds good," he replied, holding aloft a book. "This is dictionary," he added. "Maybe we can find good grammar you can use."

The private's eyes lit up with joy for his commanding officer's concern as he logged off the system. Too bad he'll probably end up dead by the day's end like all the other NPCs, Ladd reflected. He'll go to his grave never once knowing the magic of articles. War is hell.

"Heck," said a Nintendo censor, helpfully.

Ladd commenced his descent into the enemy base by swinging across the now-empty elevator shaft. Having moved past the opening area, he at last started to encounter enemy personnel - and he was shocked to discover paratoopers dropping to attack him, inside the base!

"What sort of secret technology is being developed here that allows men to pass through metal and stone as if it were air?" he mused while slaughtering his enemies almost absent-mindedly. When they started getting too frisky, he'd smack them into line with his bionic arm. And he always took a moment to retrieve the bullets they dropped to fortify his stamina, feeling no guilt whatsoever at strengthening himself through murder. He was a hardened soldier, with a steel resolve to kill as needed. And besides, the enemies blinked and disappeared when they bit the dust, so it wasn't realistic or anything. Surely no foolish Senator or PAC would link him to rampant child homicide, right?

Slowly, inexhorably, Captain Ladd worked his way to the upper interior section of the complex and ducked into a small, unobtrusive door frame. Luckily, the building had been constructed in only two dimensions, so he wasn't too worried about becoming lost in twisty passages or anything. In fact, the door he had found was the only open door in the entire building, so he was pretty certain it was his goal.

As he stepped inside, he was halted by a gruff voice. "Do you think you can destroy the main system?" it barked. "You have no chance!" Suddenly and on cue, several enemy soldiers jumped into the fray. Luckily, they were unable to overwhelm the Captain with sheer numbers because of the NES' limited sprite-pushing capabilities. As it was, only four could appear at once, and they flickered something awful whenever they fired their weapons.

The Badd's Area 1 commander stood before a large exposed cylinder, madly waving his baton. Ladd stood right in front of him and shot him point-blank - a simple task, as the the commander simply stood in one place, not having been programmed with any kind of self-preservation instinct. However, the absence of a commander had no effect on the attacking waves of soldiers. They continued to appear from nowhere, and Ladd mowed them down whenever they did. Every once in a while, one would try to leap on his head, but that was no problem; Ladd easily avoided them because they broadcast their movements by twitching spasmodically before leaping.

Ladd fired rapidly into the cylinder, hoping he wasn't spraying lead into a nuclear reactor or anything. His quick bursts of gunfire were rewarded when the machine suddenly burst into flames, causing all the soldiers in the room to vanish like the N64's market share. The devastated computer core chugged and wheezed to a smoky halt and a small hatch opened. It dispensed 10 bullets and a packet of Energy Recovery Pills and snapped shut again.

Ladd stooped to retrieve the hard-won items and radioed his base. "Super Joe isn't here," he said. "But I got some... pills?"

"Excellent work!" said his commander. "A winner is you!" And suddenly Ladd was back on the map select screen, ready to continue his mission.

Arsenal Gear: A Guide To Bionic Commando's Weapons

They say a soldier's best friend is his gun. So Captain Ladd, he has about six or seven best friends, social butterfly that he is. But what about his other equipment? Are those items his friends as well, or does he scorn them? Does he give his Helmet a wedgie and stuff it into a locker after gym class, or does he hang out with the Iron Boots in the 7-Eleven parking lot, sharing smokes and listening to Pearl Jam on the stereo of his 1978 Malibu? Now's your chance to find out.

Normal Gun
This is a plain ol' boring gun. It fires bullets which kill people and destroy machinery and stuff. Although it seems nice enough, it has a cruel streak. When it gets together with other normal guns, it makes fun of the nerd guns and geek guns. More than a few guns who differ from the norm have been reduced to tears by the Normal Gun's scathing mockery and insults.

Wide Gun
Sometimes the Normal Gun makes fun of the Wide Gun, calling it "fatty." "Danger, wide load! Beep, beep, beep!" it taunts. But these insults don't really offend the Wide Gun. It's older and wiser than the Normal Gun, and realizes that the other weapon's cruel taunts are simply a way to cover its feelings of inadequacy for only being able to shoot in a single direction, while the Wide Gun can fire in three.

Three-Way Gun
Definitely the kinkiest member of Captain Ladd's arsenal. The Three-Way Gun, perhaps because of its experimental nature, has some strange proclivities - as its name would suggest. But let's not talk about that. Despite its questionable personal affairs, it's reliable in combat, capable of hitting a Soldier, Dwarf and Giant all in a single blast! Benefits greatly from the Federation Army's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Rocket Gun
One of the most powerful weapons available to Captain Ladd, the Rocket Gun is capable of ripping through enemy lines in a single blast. The single drawback to this incredible weapon is the ammunition - the rockets it fires are the size of a frozen turkey and have to be carried around in a wheelbarrow, which greatly reduces Captain Ladd's combat efficiency. Luckily, the Badd sodiers are also about as intelligent as frozen turkeys, which helps even up the odds somewhat.

Joe's Machine Gun
You'd think that the weapon of the legendary Super Joe would be some sort of incredible gun, the holy grail of combat weaponry. However, you'd be mistaken. Although its rapid rate of fire is admirable, the gun has about a three foot range before its discharge tumbles to the ground harmlessly. A standard rule of combat is "Never fire until you see the whites of their eyes," but apparently Joe liked to see his own reflection in the enemy's eyes as well. And you wonder why he was captured.

Hyper Bazooka
This is a super-secret weapon in development by the Federation Army. According to the manual, "It can go through the cockpit of helicopters." And we all know how often we come face-to-face with a helicopter out on the field. This is definitely an item you'll want to keep close at hand!

Hidden throughout the Badd bases are these adorable little dolls that depict U2 lead singer Bono Vox dressed as a Bionic Commando. By finding these, Captain Ladd is magically granted nigh-immortality by the incredible power of U2. You can find these Where the Streets Have no Name. Sure, you can carry on With or Without it, but swallow your Pride in the Name of Love and wage War!

Bullets are small, hollow metal slugs (not to be mistaken for Metal Slug, which is something else altogether) filled with gunpowder and fired as projectiles from guns and other weapons. Except in Bionic Commando, where guns shoot magical beams of limitless green energy and bullets instead build a soldier's stamina. I don't care if it doesn't make sense, maggot - yours is not to reason why, yours is but to do or die.

Communicators are backpack-like devices which can jack in to the enemy's communication system, allowing Captain Ladd to give props to his homies back at base, or snoop like a doggy-dogg on Badd conversations. Predating the iMac by no less than ten years, these come in a rainbow of candy colors which must be matched to the corresponding terminal.

Most flares are sticks of magnesium that ignite upon contact with the air and burn slowly. However, the flares Captain Ladd uses appear to be a large eyeball in a lamp shell. While it's true that the flares allow you to see more clearly, I'm thinking the symbolism here is perhaps a little too graphic.

Permits are extremely useful. By finding the correct permit, Ladd will be able to bypass certain enemy checkpoints. "Well, you're wearing an enemy uniform, and you don't look like the guy on this card. But you've got a permit, so I guess I should let you through." This fake I.D. will also help Ladd get into the Badd Nitez Nightclub to booze up and hit on chicks, even though he only looks about 15. Clearly, a powerful tool.

Nintendo really goofed up here -- they actually let a religious symbol into a video game! This pendant is proof that Jesus saves; while wearing the cross, the first bullet which strikes you will automatically be deflected by holy power.

The Helmet is even more potent than the cross. I suppose there are some subtle spiritual implications here -- a symbol of war being more protective than a symbol of God? What could it mean? Oh wait...this game is from 1989 and predates all that religious symbolism nonsense that pervades today's games. Never mind. Anyway, the helmet protects against three bullets per stage. After the third bullet, the enemies wise up and stop shooting at the top of your head and aim for your body instead.

Bulletproof Vest
If I had paid for this vest after hearing it billed as "bulletproof", I'd be pretty annoyed to find out that it's only bulletproof for every other gun shot. That's like finding out that only 50% of your "non-toxic" crayons are in fact non-toxic after chomping down on a box of 96. Of course, the manufacturers of this vest probably figured they could get away with it. After all, by the time you discover the fatal flaw in the equipment, you're dead. Remember, folks, the Pentagon gives contracts to the lowest bidder.

Iron Boots
Generalissimo Killt wants to rule with an iron fist, so it seems fitting that you would help take him down with a spiked iron foot. Unfortunately, use of these boots can be rather tricky, as you're liable to puncture your own legs, thighs, crotch, etc if you're not careful how you move. Also, since these add about 30 pounds to your body weight, your chances of wrenching your arm out of its socket with the Bionic Arm increase significantly while wearing these.

The game also calls this a "Rapid-Fire Device," which sounds nifty, but really isn't nearly as clever as using a magazine gun would have been. Considering how lonely male troops get after extended stays behind enemy lines, Ladd could probably become their best friend by firing a few, ahem, magazines at them. Then again, the Badd soldiers have the mental reflexes of trout, so it's possible they might never have even heard of "women." (Editor's note: This guide was written in 2000, so I'm calling shenanigans. Hideo Kojima totally ripped off this idea in 2001's Metal Gear Solid 2.)

That's "POW" as in Batman-style onomatopoeia, not "prisoner of war." The POW spins rapidly around Ladd and protects him from enemy fire, so it's just as well. I'm pretty sure that using combat prisoners as human shields is against the Geneva Convention.

When I take medicine, it's to cure a cold or relieve a headache... generally it takes an hour or more to kick in. Captain Ladd has special medicine that cures bullet wounds, instantly salves burns, and restores him to 100 percent health in a split second. If he were smart, he'd skip out on this whole war with the Badds and just sell this stuff on the black market for a few thousand bucks a dose. Of course, Ladd has it lucky. His overall physical health is indicated with little green bullets, whereas people like me have to gauge our temperature, visit a doctor and so forth to determine our health. Maybe I should start up my own bullet collection.