a review of Bionic Commando: Rearmed
a videogame developed by grin
and published by capcom
for Microsoft Windows, the playstation network and the xbox live arcade
text by tim rogers
Welcome to the new and improved Action Button Dot Net, where our reformed mission statement is to change as little as possible. This is a review of Bionic Commando: Rearmed, a remake of a game we liked a little bit in the past. We feel a burning need to link you to these three reviews at the top of this review:
We’re not going to, officially, link to our review of Super Mario Bros. 3, because that would seem kind of cruel.
First order of business: yes, as probably every review on the internet is pointing out, it is hilarious that the word “Rearmed” begins with the word “Rear”. We are going to keep anal-probing jokes to a minimum, because maturity is the new cool.
Now, off and running we go: Bionic Commando: Rearmed arrives as a bitching affirmation, a shrieking “We Told You So”: yes, Swedish people are awesome. The amount of dumbfounding respect and dignity poured into this little game right here (“little” used affectionately) is, on the one hand, mind-boggling because of the parent company’s being Japanese, and on the other hand no less than we have always expected from that Ripped-Fuel-chugging nation of speed-metal-guitar-solo-tapping lordmen.
If the heart of a true warrior is a fortress, the Japanese game development citadel is a wet cardboard cluster of hobo shanties. How in the dripping hell did a group of Swedemen, sexy as they may be, manage to wrest an “Intellectual Property” from the cracked ebony claws of the deformed toads who sit in on the board meetings without promising to not make it better? We know the drill by now: any game series of more than three installments and older than ten years of age is considered “canonical” and “art” in Japan; when re-releasing any such game, the law dictates that you first plop it out, no questions asked, in the exact form it was initially released. A year passes (possibly two). Then, with the public thusly “reminded” of the existence of your game, you pay a Korean kid with bootlegged Photoshop, and he goes over your graphics with a smear filter. If Rerelease B outsells Rerelease A by x + .5x units (where x = total sales of Rerelease A), you can start thinking about Rerelease C, which will likely have some full-motion video cut scenes produced by the cheapest available outsource firm.
We cannot stress this enough: The above paragraph is hardly hyperbole. The Japanese games industry is in flames.
What happened, in the case of Bionic Commando: Rearmed? We can only guess (with help from Kotaku): a white man must have been involved in the pre-production phase. He must have said, hey, there’s an outright idiotic number of human beings who claim to love the NES Bionic Commando game. Why don’t we remake it for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, only, you know, skip the Photoshop Smear Filter Step and just go directly to the Full Motion Video Step, only leave all the full motion video out and just make the game’s graphics really, you know, modern, while keeping the game mechanics exactly the same? The Emperor of Capcom must have nuclear-fusioned a whole espresso in the crucible of his throat right there on the spot so he could spit it out onto the boardroom table. “Off with his head!” Then, someone must have stood up in the back — possibly the same person who saw fit to go ahead and produce another Monster Hunter game despite the first one not doing so well — and announced with a theatrical sneer that they should give this white man and his team some money, just to see how pathetically their effort ends up selling. It’s quite apparent to us that the man only sneered to please the Emperor: he knew in his heart that Bionic Commando: Rearmed was a good idea; he knew it would sell. It’s just that to convince the meat-holders of anything in this industry, you have to make it look simultaneously like cynical charity and a gamble.
Bionic Commando: Rearmed sold triumphantly well for one reason: respect. It treats its subject matter with the highest respect, and presents it as a thing soaked in dignity. Beware: we’re not actually complimenting the game yet (we’ll do that in a minute). “Respect” is the same reason that Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII sold, after all, though in the case of that game, respect was more of a necessity, because the fans wouldn’t have it any other way.
The “production” and “promotion” elements of the development of Bionic Commando: Rearmed likely did not involve any actual rocket science. At the end of the day, it’s all common sense: they’re going to take a game which some people love and some people have never heard of, a game that they themselves believe earnestly is great, and they’re going to re-present it to the world mostly as-is, fixing only the bits that are mathematically wrong, while increasing the graphical capacity to something resembling “everything modern consoles can do” without sacrificing the charm of the original game’s simplicity. That may seem like a long sentence to you and me, though it’s not such a heavy burden when you realize it’s just one sentence. All of the particulars of the “game design choices” were probably calculated automatically by a spreadsheet macro. We mean this as something of a compliment.
Surely, a lot more “work” went into Bionic Commando: Rearmed than goes into the typical “rerelease” — like, remember when they put Castlevania: Symphony of the Night up on Xbox Live Arcade? Don’t try and tell us it took any more than one guy and two hours to knock up that title screen — however, out of sheer respect, they kept the extrapolation to a minimum. This results in roughly the same game as the NES version, with the bionic arm physics tweaked in ways you would have to be a clinically diagnosed jerk to find issue with. You have a life bar now (instead of dying in one hit), though if you jack up the difficulty, the lifebar isn’t going to help you. Also, the bosses don’t suck anymore. Looking at how straight-faced the rest of Rearmed is in its level design and execution, we can say with confidence that it actually took some balls for them to gut out the original bosses and add new ones.
At first, we downloaded the demo of the game and were like “Hell yeah dude, Bionic Commando.” We pumped our fist a couple of times because, well, why not? The bionic-arm-swinging action had just the right amount of chunk, stick, and clutch. It satisfied a very present thumb-hunger. We bought the game not five minutes after completing the demo, consulting our stock broker, and deciding that, yes, financially supporting This Sort Of Thing is “good for the global economy”.
Within three hours, we were Violently Sick with the game, though we regret nothing. Ten Hard Green American Dollars for three hours of fun — that’s not bad!
We were never the type to insist that the original was one of our favorite games, for even as a youth we were fat and blanketed in pimple clusters and capable of seeing fundamental game design flaws with razor-sharp clarity. Bionic Commando had its share of fundamental flaws — giant, pulsating red dots all over its game design. We get enough hate mail without deriding Bionic Commando: stepping further into “critical” territory would flip that “enough” over into “too much”. Suffice it to say that the level design isn’t nearly all it can be: you have these cute little situations with bad guys ducking behind barrels and all, and the bullets move at this delicious abstractly slow speed, which is a setup begging for some brilliant set-pieces, though there’s just always been a certain layer of verve missing. As an arcade game, in ancient times, Bionic Commando was all about the forward motion, while occasionally being about vertical motion. It was also, mostly, about cheap shots and being hit by said cheap shots, and dying, so that you could put more money into the machine. Capcom must have theorized that merely porting the game to the Famicom would have resulted in sudden sharp awareness to how sketchy the arcade platformer genre was on conceptual levels, so they threw the bionic arm gimmick into what might have started as a completely different game. The ensuing Bionic Commando, with its (can’t think of a better word) weird level design, was something of a haphazard combination of the bionic arm gimmick and a more Rolling Thunder-esque approach to gunfighting.
Yet Rolling Thunder, even as an arcade game, had possessed an immaculate, shiny, skill-based groove. The entire Rolling Thunder series is a godly entertainment event, as far as we’re concerned. We can even say it pre-supposed Gears of War‘s cover-based gunfights. You do a lot of behind-box-ducking in Rolling Thunder. However, Rolling Thunder doesn’t allow you use of a bionic grappling hook, which means that the level designers were free to use the time that they might have been using to think of bionic grappling hook platform puzzles to instead think of near-infinite, ingenious, escalating gunfight obstacle placements.
Segue backward to the “production” aspect of Bionic Commando: Rearmed: they released three “making of” videos on the PlayStation Store and the Xbox Marketplace. They were each six minutes long, and featured Swedish people talking for the greater part of their running times. One part kind of confused us, and made us wonder why Capcom’s production team didn’t catch it and snip a few words out carefully: the lead game designer says that they fine-tuned the bionic arm to a certain degree where they realized fully and truly how awesome a mechanic it is, and then they realized that the player doesn’t get an opportunity to use the bionic arm to its full potential in the actual game, so they made “challenge rooms” in which to test the player’s ability to use the bionic arm.
Back in the world of the game, a soldier standing outside one set of challenge rooms cheekily admits that though the challenge rooms are supposed to be training, though sometimes they feel harder than the actual mission. You see this and think, oh, man, LOL, it must be a lot of fun to work at a game company and joke around all day about one’s shortcomings.
Eventually, though, you’re playing the actual game, and you’re at the docks stage, where you have that famous “puzzle” that comes before the communications room, where you have to swing, hang, drop, swing and jump — hell, it’s hard to explain — and then you go into the communications room and you come out on the other side and there’s another swinging puzzle. Mess up on either one, and you’re dead. You can lose all your lives there pretty easy. Once you get to the other side of the second challenge, you’re back to fighting enemies.
Actual “challenges” involving the bionic arm, in the natural habitat of Bionic Commando, are somewhat few. For the most part, using the bionic arm to swing across a gap is just a punctuation mark at the end of a sentence about a dude shooting some dudes — or shooting a dude is a punctuation mark at the end of a sentence about a dude swinging across a gap with a bionic arm. What we’re saying is that, at its core, Bionic Commando would be a much better game if its sentences were about shooting dudes and swinging with a bionic arm, with the only punctuation mark being the GamePro “5.0” flaming-hair expression on your face at all times.
There are points in the game where you will use your bionic arm to get to a strategic position from which to shoot a dude. Usually, doing this means that he won’t be able to shoot back. There are other points in the game where you will shoot your arm up and hang from a ceiling while shooting at dudes. When the dudes shoot back, the preeminent way to dodge their shots is to release the bionic arm and drop down. Sometimes you’ll be on level ground with a dude, and shooting at him, and when he shoots back, you can thrust the bionic arm forward to nullify his shot. It all fits together, yes. It’s just that the solution to any given moment is never not obvious. A bionic grappling hook is a balls-to-walls crazy concept. It’s just treated with not nearly enough spontaneity.
For as much tender nuance as the bionic arm possesses, we also get an equal amount of the superfluous: the main character can not jump, which is a detail we definitely don’t mind, though really, the better you make the graphics in these games, the more blazingly ridiculous it comes to look that the only thing preventing your character from moving forward is a knee-high crate. In the original game it was a crate, so in the remake, it’s a crate. Seriously, guys, you’ve convinced the rights-holders to let you make the graphics look shiny: they probably wouldn’t mind if you turned that crate into a wall!
It’s very apparent what is happening, here: the developers at Grin are fans of Bionic Commando. They see its errors and flaws and they love the game all the more for it. There exists a certain virtue in this, to be sure. You probably do want your game developers, at the end of the day, to at least kind of enjoy videogames. Grin noticed that Bionic Commando‘s original single-player game was somewhat lacking in challenge escalation and, more often than not, super-compelling level design. Their acknowledgement of this was to craft these cute little challenge rooms, which become something of a game in and of themselves: some of them are maddening, some of them are idiotic, some of them are hideous, some of them are &^#$#ed, some of them are simply frustrating, and all of them are brilliant. In a way, with the “challenge rooms”, Grin succeeded where the original developers shrugged and gave up. Way back in the 1980s, Capcom’s internal team knew that their game was missing something, so their countermeasure to fight off accusations of “not enough” was to put “too much” into the game: not only do we have an uber-boring “world map” from which to select our stages, we have these trucks driving around, and if we bump into one, we have to play a top-down shooter segment. These segments are boring, frequent, and near-universally acknowledged as superfluous. They’re the action game equivalent of random battles. We can’t think of any reason why this sort of thing shouldn’t work, though we wouldn’t want to get paid to think of ways to make it actually work. Back in 1989, kids the world over groaned like middle-aged men smashed in the groins with soccer balls whenever they encountered a truck: “here we go again”. Grin’s response to the tedium seems to be to make the segments easier, though no less frequent.
Then there’s the lock-and-key bullstuff. The original Bionic Commando offered up an illusion of further depth by making it possible to enter areas in which you couldn’t actually proceed. This is a tactic they might have borrowed from Dragon Quest, where you can see a little room full of treasure boxes in the first castle, only to be told the door is locked when you try to go in. It makes you thirst for the key. In Bionic Commando, however, you’re hecked from the lowest level, because you’re not merely walking by these areas with your hands in your pockets while chewing bubblegum — you’re selecting the areas from an abstract world map, cueing up the whole “mission start” sequence. Getting the “key” to one of these levels is as simple as going into a friendly base camp and entering the right door. Entering the right door requires absolutely no display of skill. Grin added new weapons to their remake of Bionic Commando, which is nice, and smart, because they’re fun. However, when they use the weapons for gating purposes, for the space of entire breathless moments anything and everything about the game falls dead flat:
You enter a stage. “Mission start”. You parachute in dramatically. You chug two screens to the right, all alone. You see a huge stone wall with a rocket icon very clearly plastered on the middle of it. You walk back to the left and exit the map, or choose “call for extraction” from the menu.
You choose another stage. You battle to the end. You fight a boss.
You win a rocket launcher for beating the boss. The boss has nothing to do with rocket launchers. He does not carry a rocket launcher, or even advocate their use in his pre-fight monologue. You beat him, and a menu display pops up: “You got a rocket launcher”.
You remember that stage, with that wall, and that rocket icon. You exit to the world map.
A dialog box pops up. The helicopter pilot tells you that she remembers seeing a wall that it would take a rocket launcher to destroy. Except she’s not clever about it. She says “You can use that rocket launcher to enter area #__” [we forget the number of the area, because, really].
Why do we need to do this, anymore? Haven’t we grown out of this yet? Bionic Commando: Rearmed rebounds back and forth between respecting the source material and wanting to do something new, between wanting to make a great videogame and wanting to talk about videogames. When you get the life-bar-lengthening upgrade, the helicopter pilot tells you that even though it’s described as pills, it looks more like a bottle of liquid. This is because the icon for the item is tiny and 8-bitty and pixelly. We’re supposed to remember the original Bionic Commando, and say “LOL!” Though we are, as previously stated, not exactly monster-fans of the original game, so we can see, mathematically, that because there exists one general word for “medicine” in Japanese — a word which can describe either pills or liquid medication — it was all just a minor translation mix-up. Back then, big companies like Capcom didn’t hire “Localization Professionals”, et cetera. We’re not knocking the in-jokey nature of the script — though we have said before, and will probably say it again, please, let’s stop using videogames to talk about videogames — we’re just kind of squeamishly grimacing in the face of the realization that they felt the need to stick that close to the original game.
To put it simply and bluntly, the friendly camps in Bionic Commando are hecking boring. The world map is hecking boring. The overhead shooting segments are hecking boring. The game has soared to stratospheric heights of legend in the minds of many former schoolboys precisely because a memory of clearing Bionic Commando is a memory of sampling something so almost great that you feel like you’re the only one who really gets it. Plopping the same quirky game design out with Amazing HDR Lighting on Absolutely Everything is only going to make someone, somewhere, look like a liar. For God’s sake, they even removed the “alarm” effect when you fire a shot inside the friendly camps. And then they added some perfectly superfluous “hacking” mini-game, which actually manages to be much simpler than Bioshock‘s hacking minigame, probably to avoid people groaning and comparing it to Bioshock‘s buzz-killing hacking mini-game. Seriously, Bionic Commando: Rearmed‘s hacking minigame is so small, so insignificant, and so simple that we are probably violating some international law by devoting this many words to it. Let us then, recount our policy that a girl with whom we plan to simulate human mating procedures is not allowed in our house unless she is perceived as able to see a round of tic-tac-toe through to a tie.
Grin had one chance to impress us with Rearmed‘s campaign — the final stage aboard the Albatross flying fortress, a stage specifically crafted for this game. The stage is hecking terrible. Early on, you enter a room where the “challenge” is to get from the left side to the right. Steam is shooting out of the floor. Hurt steam. So you stand in front of a steam jet and wait for it to stop jetting. When it stops, you move forward. This is definitely not fun! In the “making of” videos, they talk about how they had a really slick level editor that let them test a stage with a click of a mouse. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea — in this final stage, there are so many safe spots between steam jets that are precisely the width of the player character, or grappling ledges that are precisely as far away from your character’s position as his arm will reach. It feels, quite frankly, like they used the level editor to do everything here. Maybe it would have helped get the creativity juices flowing by doing this all out on graph paper first. Man, it feels kind of creepy to suggest that. As we here at Action Button Dot Net are the kinds of people to have reconstructed Super Mario 64 stages in the Quake editor as highschoolers, we understand fully well how brain-shockingly easy it is to represent someone else‘s creativity with a level editor. When asked to make their own, Grin supplied us with the fragmentary (challenge rooms) and the awful (the final stage). The fragmentary approach suits Bionic Commando‘s juicy godsend of a core mechanic, the way “Destroy Them All” suits Gunstar Heroes‘s: let all semblance of “level design” fall away, let the mechanic and the surrounding chaos become one, let the player play, submerged up to the ankles in the low tide we call The Zone. Yes. Yesssss.
A revisionist remake of Bionic Commando would cut out the illusions of depth. In fact, it would make the game more shallow. It would string the stages together, eliminate the superfluous world map. It would be about moving forward — and sometimes upward — toward your goal. In a perfect world, Grin would have incorporated all of their “challenge room” ideas into the natural flow of the game.
For better or for worse, it didn’t turn out this way. Not that we’re complaining.
Hah! You thought we were complaining, didn’t you? Sure psyched you out!
To be honest, for once, we don’t give a stuff, because Bionic Commando: Rearmed is fun, and the swinging physics feel right, and when you play the campaign with a friend, it suddenly makes so much sense. It’s idiotic fun for geniuses. It’s the return of “AWESOME”. When you were a kid and you played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game, a game so badass it had the actual words “The Arcade Game” in its title, even though it was playable on your Nintendo Entertainment System home gaming console, like, what the heck, man, you had no idea how to begin to appreciate things like “skill”. In this day and age of people digging up the bones of “AWESOME” and propping them in a glass case for all the world to see in limp spectacles like Castle Crashers, it’s nice to see someone actually paying the game designers of old homage by way of one-upping them.
If you be male and between 25 and 33 years of age, you likely learned the word “simultaneous” from the back of a videogame box. You played Double Dragon in the arcade and were like “This is sweet” and then you read in Nintendo Power that the NES version wouldn’t have “two-player simultaneous” and you were like “Mannnnn”; then they announced Double Dragon II and the back of the box said “Two-player simultaneous”, and you were lilke “Yesssss”. Eventually, you’d make these balls-to-the-wind, quite-frankly-psychotic blanket statements like “Bionic Commando would be so much better if it had two-player simultaneous”, and you might get kicked in the balls and called a queer by the school bully for saying that, much as he was inclined to agree. Today — this day, right here — Bionic Commando does have two-player simultaneous, and it’s the most perpetually, brain-twistingly imperfect thing on the face of the earth, and you’ll blink at the screen half a dozen times and possibly murder your best friend because he cannot keep up with the jumping and the swinging, though hey, here it is. Someone had balls to get this feat done. We cannot doubt this. We can probably conclude that the verbatim nature of the rest of the game’s level design had a lot to do with the team being very small and spending most of their time on shiny graphics.
Then again, everything these days has two-player simultaneous. Two-player simultaneous is getting so common that these days they just call it “co-op”, so that they can fit more legal warnings and content-rating icons for the illiterate on the back of the box.
That is to say: in three hours, we got Violently Sick of the game, and then, miraculously, we were not alone anymore, and the game was suddenly fun again. The bosses — which we previously tried typing a little bit about before realizing how boring it sounded — all require some amount of cooperation, which is neat.
Eventually, even after you’ve cleared all of the challenge rooms that don’t immediately make you wish you were dead, played through the campaign on “hard”, and shown ten friends the exploding Hitler head at the end, the game is still fun. In fact, the game is “worth ten dollars” whether you ever load the campaign mode up or not. To be brutally honest, if we had never played the campaign mode, and only played the four-player deathmatch mode, this would be a four-star review. A four-player deathmatch with three opponents of moderate skill posesses the “in the zone” feel of Gunstar Heroes‘s “Destroy Them All”: just you and a friend, alone with the game’s core mechanics, every weapon stuck on its median power upgrade, shooting to kill.
Truly, as Grin insisted in the “making of” videos, the bionic grappling hook is a deeply fascinating play mechanic. The deepest realization of just how awesome the bionic arm is, however, comes not from the game’s decades-old campaign, or its shiny new challenge rooms — it’s only when you have used it to save your life or obtain a strategic position in a naturally occurring deathmatch situation. We say, over and over again, that the default player actions in a single-player game should be compelling enough to make you believe with all your soul that a two-player deathmatch situation using two player character clones and said default player actions would be at least as compelling as the actual game. Bionic Commando: Rearmed makes a case for the extreme: the deathmatch is even more compelling than the actual game. The design of the stages is a tiny bit limp — a tiny bit too Mario Bros. (not enough, uhm, “Bionic Commando“) — though hey, there’s a chance that these guys didn’t know they were creating the most awesome thing ever. There’s a chance the deathmatch mode was only an afterthought. We shudder at that possibility.
How and why did this mode get made? We’d love to hear some behind-the-scenes details. We’ve been dead convinced for years now that a fighting game with 8-bit-like side-scrolling platform action design would be the Hottest Thing Alive. This is why we’re so violently disappointed with Smash Bros. — it tries too hard to be “more like a fighting game”. No, we scream, pounding our keyboards: the fight will emerge naturally. Leave the mechanics pure! Bionic Commando: Rearmed seems to understand this common sense fully. It’s awfully sweet and nice. It’s kind of a shame that no critics adequately screamed and raved about or at least saw the potential of the versus mode, though really, how can you expect videogame journalists to know what makes a good videogame?
Yoshiki Okamoto has said that Street Fighter got made because Capcom told him to make a game with as many buttons as possible and characters as large as possible. The “fighting” genre was born. Don’t be misled by the Street Fighter IV revival — “fighting games”, in their original sense, are the purest form of the kind of game design that led the now Wii-won “Casual Gamers” to wander away from the hobby in the first place. Street Fighter‘s immediate goal was to leave a deep visual impact: the ensuing game design was just an accident.
Back in 1994, Namco’s Rolling Thunder team threw together a two-player deathmatch action-platform shooting game called The Outfoxies. We love it dearly, partly because of our fetish for 2D games featuring cross-sections of buildings. (Elevator Action Returns, Metal Warriors, et al.) The Outfoxies can be seen as an early attempt to envision the Action Button Dot Net Dream of pure 2D skill-based “fighting” games involving platforms, jumping, and guns. That the stages in The Outfoxies happen to be lovingly scripted movie-like set-pieces is the icing on the cake. More than that, it was the only logical direction a Rolling Thunder game could go — each game in the series got harder and harder, with smarter and smart enemies, until it reached a point where the only way for a veteran to experience more challenge would be to give up on shooting games and start playing Street Fighter II against tournament champions. The Outfoxies was born because it was the only way to go — straight up. And once you’re at the top, there’s nowhere else to go. The Rolling Thunder team disintegrated, and no one has heard from them since. (They probably make Gundam games.)
It’s kind of scary how much “the human element” was underestimated when assessing the success of “fighting games” — the marketing geniuses at the time no doubt attributed the success of Street Fighter II to the size of the characters and the digitized voices. Yet with Bionic Commando: Rearmed‘s “Don’t Touch The Floor” mode, we glimpse a stunning, bright future of player-versus-player contests that are about more than running in circles shooting dudes, or infinite-comboing dudes. A four-player game of “Don’t Touch The Floor”, in which all players are armed only with the grappling hook and a single-shot rifle with unlimited ammunition, involves a poker-like level of psychological delicacy. Your bullets don’t harm the other players — they only send them recoiling backward. The only way to die is to fall off the bottom of the stage. How do you play? Do you run? Do you chase? Do you hold your ground? As the night grows drunker, and the philisophical questions begin to emerge in the air-holes between the bursts of gunfire, you might just see that golden continent out on the horizon. This single “throwaway” mode of this otherwise lovingly constructed package is damn near an entire genre of entertainment in and of itself. Gather four friends with a passing knowledge of games, be spellbound for a couple hours, and then just try looking back.
“Don’t Touch The Floor” is a big, bursting gift of a game-chunk. It’s like, imagine your grandmother gives you a sweater for your birthday, and it’s a really awesome sweater. You wear it literally every day. “Literally every day” means that, the next time you see your grandmother, you’re wearing the sweater. “Oh dear, you don’t have to wear that just because I’m around,” she says. Sincere as a heart attack, you reply: “No, no, I really like this sweater“. Your grandmother sighs, shakes her head, and probably dies a week later.
We’re pretty sure there are plenty of ways “Don’t Touch The Floor” could have been better — more interesting stage design, a tiny bit less hecking bloom (you’ll be squinting, and you’ll have a headache, or you’re not playing correctly) — though suggesting any of them here would be foolish. We’d rather bottle these ideas up inside for the purpose of making “our own game” “someday”, which very well could be impossible. Either way, as what it is — the Happiest Accident of the Year in Gaming — it’ll do. Criticizing it would be as futile as criticizing Bionic Commando: Rearmed‘s music.
We wonder how Capcom Japan felt when they heard that the music composer for Bionic Commando: Rearmed was also the lead designer. They probably immediately pressed a panic button on the bottom of their desk: in Japan, it’s widely believed that “multi-talented” people are flakes, or goofs. To be perfectly honest, Mr. Simon Viklund is likely a more accomplished musician than a game designer. Even if “Don’t Touch The Floor” was his idea, and he truly believed in it as its own art form from the very beginning, that’s only about as “creative” as thinking up a new recipe that involves macaroni and cheese: a more “creative” man would think up a recipe that only borrowed the macaroni, or the cheese. Meanwhile, though Viklund’s musical score for Bionic Commando: Rearmed consists entirely of covers of tracks from the original, they are all spectacularly well produced. You don’t even need to know the original tunes to dig the sweet electro groove of Viklund’s covers. We suppose you could say kind of the same thing about Bionic Commando: Rearmed in general. Though seriously, suffice it to say we’re pretty certain that Simon Viklund would get asked to remix music for the next Smash Bros. before Nintendo asked him and his team to develop, say, a Super Mario game.
Wow. There are kind of a lot of ways that last sentence can be interpreted! We should probably stop right there.
Okay, then. Stopping . . . now.