C64 Review of Bionic Commandos from Issue 39

ZzapTest Logo by Biggest Jim


Enemy forces are amassing a stockpile of missiles, hidden deep within the heart of the jungle. The launch countdown has started, and only the player can stop them: parachuting into the undergrowth, the quest begins.

Each level scrolls multidirectionally with a status strip at the top revealing the highscore, current score, lives and time remaining and weapon carried. The player begins with four lives, depleted on contact with enemies, their projectiles or armoured craft or the creatures that roam within the landscapes. Each level has a 200 second time limit: failing to complete it within that restriction loses a life.

The player is equipped with a rifle and an extendable claw: pushing the joystick in an appropriate upward direction and pressing fire attaches the claw to the nearest outcrop and pulls the player up or swings him accordingly. Weapons and other useful equipment (such as a device to speed up arm move ment) are collected by shooting parachutes penodically dropped as progression is made: these are picked up by walking over them or using the extendable arm.

The levels are loaded in pairs, so that progression from the second multiloads the third and fourth levels. Each sect´on is separately titled, has a unique style of land scape and theme tune, and poses individual problems.

The first stage comprises forest terrain, crawling with armed guards: other hazards include birds, deadly plants and killer bees; the second involves scaling a large fortress guarded by heavy cannon, crate and grenade-throwing soldiers. In the third section creatures eat away the pipe work, stray pipes being fatal; the Control Tower makes up the fourth, with huge metallic barriers to open and bomb-dropping helicopters and hopping robots to avoid. The final stage involves stopping the missile before its launch, swarms of guards on constant patrol.

This review was typed in/OCRed by Iain

ZzapBack Logo by Biggest Jim
In the spirit of ZzapBack, you can have your say about how the game reviewed above, stands up in the cold light of today. Has it aged badly or is it still worth a few plays? Read other peoples thoughts and post your own.

The current ZzapBack rating is : 84%

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Dave - 13 Jul 2019
One of my favourites from my C64 days. Pretty challenging especially in the later levels. Music was fantastic and a good match for the arcade. And it was a hell of a lot better than the garbage Amiga version.

Rating : 90%
Conrad - 2 Apr 2011
Man, this game was difficult and frustrating...but I kept on coming back. Good game, with not so good graphics. This game had that something....it is a classic in my books. I will downrate the scores with at least 20% except 'hookability', make that 100%.

Rating : 80%
Auntie Slag - 29 Mar 2009
There was something vibrant and effortlessly carefree about this game. It was like Shake n' Vac.

Outstanding music, superb claw-arm gadget, fast and frenetic coupled with standard horizontal shootery. Good, clean fun.

Rating : 91%
MaffRignall - 7 Feb 2006
In hindsight I think the ratings were spot-on. Maybe drop the graphics down a bit - it was pretty messy looking. But the game itself was great - it didn't play much like the arcade version, but was a solid game in its own right. One of the best blasters on the C64.

Rating : 90%
zzap oz - 3 Aug 2005
well here we have the first decent go! conversion, to a point that is.... i first bought this game a few years back and i must say at first i was infact somewhat impressed. I played for hours with mates all having a differing point of view, graphics being the main gripe and slow gameplay. worth a blast.

Rating : 69%
CraigGrannell - 4 Dec 2003
A thoroughly enjoyable conversion, and quite a surprise from Go, whose previous games had been, well, crap. The graphics have dated very badly, but the soundtrack still rocks, and I prefer the gameplay to the arcade. Having said that, I still feel it was over-rated slightly at the time.

Rating : 80%
SLF - 1 Dec 2003
I truly have a soft spot for this, and I must say that the review is still spot on. The soundtrack is my absolute fave on any c64 game (yes I prefer it over Delta's) and the gameplay is one helluva lot of fun, with the bionic arm putting it in a class of its own. Only 5 levels, but it's difficult enough, and it has a great replay value even after completion. Graphics are a bit unclear in places, there are some frustrating bugs (such as falling through a platform) but all in all this still is a great little platformer.
pr 75 gr 68 so 98 ho 94 la 90

Rating : 93%
Paul Glancey
I've looked twice, and, yep, this fabulous arcade conversion is definitely from GO!, so try and forget all their previous naffness, because this much maligned company has obviously turned over a new leaf. Sprites and backdrops are very good indeed, but the game's most striking feature is its array of unbelievably good soundtracks. The most accurate appraisal I can give is to say that they're simply the most imaginative and well implemented pieces of music I've heard on the Commodore since Rob Hubbard left these shores. Get your ears into gear and salza through level one to the accompaniment of a strange blend of Latin-American and ELO riffs. Also on the musical menu are a 70s TV detective theme soundalike, a mellow metallic track, and a tense war movie piece. Amazingly, the quality sounds are matched by the gameplay, and the combination of swingabout and shoot 'em up is accomplished in fine style. This is horrendously good fun and I'd recommend it without reserve.
Gordon Houghton
A brilliant release has been long overdue from GO!, and this more than makes up for the dearth of quality up to now. The most outstanding impression is made by the superb music: every piece from the funky metallic bashing of the title track to the psychedelic 70s strangeness of the fifth stage is brilliant! Graphically it's OK: the landscapes are all detailed, different and colourful, but things get a bit obscure at times as your character clashes with some backdrops; the main sprite is compact and his extendable claw is effectively done. Gameplay is simple and not all that difficult: once you've got the hang of where to go and when to make a a move, it's quite straightforward. However, until then there's plenty of blasting action and swinging to do: if you're looking for a neat conversion that captures the atmosphere of the original and is compelling in its own right, Bionic Commandos hits the mark.
Julian Rignall
The programmers of Bubble Bobble have turned up trumps again with a superb conversion of this little-known platform arcade game. It doesn't look particularly impressive Ś the sprites are a little indistinct and some of the backdrops, although nicely coloured, are unclear Ś but it plays extremely well. The extending arm is a brilliant idea. and Software Creations have captured just the right sort of inertia on the swing, so you can get the Commando to grab a support, leap across chasms and retract his arm to land safely on the other side before he swings back and falls to his doom. As well as climbing up the landscape, the commando also blasts soldiers and avoids the attentions of giant robots, killer bees and robotic dogs as he battles through six challenging and frenetic levels. Supporting the gameplay are six incredible soundtracks - each one is as individual and innovative as the last. If you're looking for a fast and addictive game, swingalonga Bionic Commandos.
Friendly and unobtrusive multiload, highscore table and polished display.

Colourful and smooth eight-way scrolling backdrops and compact, neatly animated sprites, but a slight lack of clarity overall.

Five superbly psychedelic ingame themes, a brilliantly funky title tune but no spot effects.

The combination of visual and aural effects complements the initial ease of progress and enjoyment of exploration.

Only five levels, but completion is a difficult and enjoyable task.

By far the best GO! conversion so far, and another great arcade conversion by Software Creations.