Bad Dudes Vs DragonNinja, also called Bad Dudes Vs. Dragon Ninja, often referred to simply as Bad Dudes, and known in Japan simply as DragonNinja, is a 1988 arcade game developed and published by Data East. It was also ported to many computer and game console home systems. The game was followed by a 1991 spiritual successor Two Crude Dudes (known in Japan as Crude Buster). After Data East became defunct due to their bankruptcy in 2003, G-Mode bought the intellectual rights to the arcade game as well as most other Data East games and licensed them globally. The game is a side-scrolling beat 'em up where the players are set in the role of the titular duo tasked with rescuing 'President Ronnie' from ninja kidnappers. It was met with commercial success, and a generally positive to mixed critical reception. It has since become widely known for its general premise and introduction cut scene.
The gameplay of Bad Dudes is roughly similar to the 1985 Konami side-scrolling arcade game Rush'n Attack, the 1984 side-scrolling beat-'em-up Kung Fu Master, and the 1987 side-scrolling arcade game Shinobi, but allows up to two players to play at once. Player One controls the character named 'Blade' wearing white pants and Player Two controls the character named 'Striker' wearing green pants. Players start with the ability to do basic punches, kicks and jumps. Some moves are special like spinning kicks and the ability to charge themselves up with 'inner energy' (Qi) by holding the punch button to throw a powerful long-range attack that hits all opponents in front of the player. Players will also come across several power-ups; some are weapons like knives and nunchakus and some recharge a player's health, and yet others add a few seconds to the remaining time.
The various types of enemies encountered in the game have their own means of attack. The basic blue-colored ninja directly charge the player, while some leap with their swords, or throw shuriken and makibishi; there are also acrobatic kunoichi female ninja, attack dogs, and even people who are on fire. The enemies may be beaten down or avoided. Most enemies can be beaten with only a single hit of any kind, and multiple enemies can be defeated with one hit if they are standing close together.
At the end of each level, one of the 'super warrior' bosses will appear which needs to be defeated to progress to the next level. The first of them is Karnov, who cameos from the Data East game of the same name; the background music during the fight with him is similar to the main theme in Karnov as well. Each boss has their own special attacks: Karnov, for example, can breathe fire at the player. At the successful completion of each level, the dude(s) strike a 'bad' pose and proclaim, 'I'm bad!'. The shout, and the game's American wordmark logo are both similar to the Michael Jackson song 'Bad' released the previous year. In the Japanese version of the game, this quote was originally a battle cry.
The game starts in Washington D.C., where President Ronnie (based on U.S. President Ronald Reagan) has been abducted by the evil DragonNinja. The game's intro begins with the following introduction: 'Rampant ninja related crimes these days... Whitehouse is not the exception...'. As soon as that occurs, a Secret Service agent asks two street-smart brawlers, the 'Bad Dudes' named Blade and Striker: 'President Ronnie has been kidnapped by the ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to rescue Ronnie?' After hearing that, the Bad Dudes pursue the DragonNinja through the New York City streets, a moving big rig truck, a large storm sewer, a forest, a freight train on an old Southern Pacific line, a cave and into an underground factory in order to save President Ronnie.
The Japanese and English language versions' endings of the game differ. In the English version, after the Bad Dudes defeat the DragonNinja, they celebrate by eating burgers with President Ronnie. At the very end, President Ronnie is seen holding a burger while standing between the Bad Dudes. Behind them are many security guards with the White House behind them. In the Japanese version, President Ronnie gave the Bad Dudes a statue of them as reward. The Bad Dudes are seen leaning against a fence on a sidewalk next to their statue. Unlike the ending of the international version, the Japanese version's ending shows a list of nearly every enemy in the game with their names (except the unnamed green ninja boss that multiplies himself), while some faces appear next to the names of the game's staff. The background music played in both versions' endings is also completely different.
The game was ported to several home systems, including the Apple II, Atari ST, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, MSX and PC DOS in 1988 with the help of Imagine Software. On July 14, 1989, a NES/Famicom port was developed by Data East and published in Japan by Namco as DragonNinja. In North America, the same version was released the same year by Data East USA simply as Bad Dudes. This version featured an illustration by Marc Ericksen. In Europe, it was released in 1990 by Ocean Software as Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja. The arcade version is also featured, along with several other Data East arcade games, on the Wii title Data East Arcade Classics, produced by Majesco Entertainment with permission from G-Mode.
The 8-bit versions, including the personal computer version which was technically 16-bit, lacked the two-player cooperative mode in any form, instead having an alternating two-player mode. The title screen of the Japanese version became different, while the English version's was unchanged. The Secret Service agent's quote at the intro screen to the NES version was phrased slightly differently as 'The President has been kidnapped by ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the President?', while the Famicom counterpart's quote was slightly similar to the international arcade and NES quotes. The reference to President Ronnie (an overt reference to former president of the United States Ronald Reagan) was removed because Nintendo of America did not allow political content in games. In that version, the President bears a resemblance to George H. W. Bush, who was president when the NES version was released. The endings of the Japanese and English language versions of the NES port are based on the international arcade version; however, the Japanese version does not show the credits but only shows 'The End' at the White House scene and lasts a shorter time than the English version. The 8-bit home computer versions lacked the intro from either the arcade or the NES versions. The 'I'm bad!' speech was only present in the NES version; however, it does not sound identical to its arcade counterpart.
Karnov, the titular character of another Data East arcade game, made a cameo appearance as the game's first boss. The background music during the fight with him pays homage to the main theme in Karnov as well. The NES instruction manual, in addition to being short on actual instructions, claims the reason Karnov is working with the 'ninjas' is a mystery. The titular character of another Data East arcade game Chelnov can be seen being transported in a frozen container on a freight train in the arcade version of Bad Dudes Vs. Dragon Ninja.
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