Hello retro gamers of the world! Welcome to the Nostalgia Train, the monthly installment that takes a look at older video games and really basks in how amazing or horrible the past truly was. This month’s installment is none other than the puzzle-platformer Bionic Commando. Originally release as ‘Hitler’s Revival: Top Secret’ or Hittorā no Fukkatsu: Toppu Shīkuretto in 1988 for the Famicom, Bionic Commando for the NES is a wonderful and challenging game.
Ladd Spencer is a futuristic solider for the FF Battalion equipped with a gun and crippled by his inability to jump. No worries about jumping though; Spencer has an awesome bionic arm with a grappling gun. He can swing himself across the screen, grab items, and stun enemies with his handy robotic appendage – so who needs jumping?
The Dossier: Finding Super Joe
We join Spencer on his journey to save the Commando Super Joe from a thinly veiled futuristic Nazi-like regime. (Yay, censorship!) It’s the Federation pitted against the “Badds” Empire. The Federation gains the upper hand after discovering an unfinished Imperial project by the name of “Albatross.” The Empire’s lead general, Generalissimo Killt, is planning to finish the project. Super Joe (named for the 1985 Commando title from Capcom) is sent on a secret mission, but he ultimately fails. It is up to Spencer to rescue Super Joe and uncover the secrets behind project Albatross. Bionic Commando’s story is relatively simple, like most games back in the NES era. It’s a basic war scenario; our hero is against some steep odds, but eventually comes out victorious.
Censored! Nintendo Says No
This daring mission pits gamers against a recognizable pure evil. However, pure evil wasn’t exactly something Nintendo wanted to sell to audiences back in the day. All Nintendo games were heavily censored for violence, sexual connotations, religious implications, profanity, or a number of other nonsense reasons. Despite all the censoring, it’s painfully obvious that the Empire is based off Hitler’s Nazi regime. The “Badds” are original called the “Nazz,” the Swastika insignia are replaced with eagles, and the end boss Master-D was originally named Hitler.
Also, I guess it was okay that the villain shouts a single profanity and meets a gory end. It seems random that these aspects would be left in the game after considering all the work done to alter all of the other references and plot points. The plot itself is nothing spectacular, but that is de-emphasized by game play.