Bionic Commando, released in Japan as Top Secret, is a 1987 action platform game released by Capcom for the arcades. It was later released for several home computers (ported by Software Creations and published by Go!). Capcom later produced a home version for the Nintendo Entertainment System, also titled Bionic Commando, that was drastically different from the original arcade game.
The game was advertised in the United States as a sequel to Commando, going as far to refer to the game's main character as Super Joe (the protagonist of Commando) in the promotional brochure, who was originally an unnamed member of a 'special commando unit' in the Japanese and World versions.
The protagonist of the game is a commando equipped with a bionic arm featuring a grappling gun, allowing him to pull himself forward or swing from the ceiling. The series is notable for being one of few instances of a platform game in which the player cannot jump. To cross gaps or climb ledges, the hero must use his bionic arm. This was the first game to feature a grappling gun/hook, which later appeared in games such as Earthworm Jim and Tomb Raider.
According to the original arcade version's installation manual, the story takes place ten years after an unspecified World War between two warring factions. The game follows a commando who must infiltrate an enemy base and foil the enemy's plot to launch missiles. The protagonist must pass through four stages to do so:
In the Final Base, the hero must stop a missile from launching and then fight the final boss, the leader of the enemy forces, guarded by an armed bodyguard.
- Level 1: Forest
- Level 2: Enemy Outpost ('The Forefront')
- Level 3: Underground Base ('Infiltration')
- Level 4: Final Base
In some computer ports, there is an additional level between levels 3 and 4, featuring enemy helicopters. The levels themselves are, like any conventional platformer, straightforward and semi-linear, with many situations in which there are enemies and other dangers lurking, while at the same time, cliffs that must be passed through. However, unlike most platformers, the player is unable to jump, instead navigating the level via the use of a mechanical arm that can pull him up ledges. The arm may also be used to collect pickups.
Prizes like points and power-ups can only be obtained from crates that come on the screen in a parachute, which can be revealed by shooting them. Unlike most of the later games, the player cannot use the arm and shoot at the same time, the arm cannot be used in the air and the only power-ups are weapon enhancements.
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