Codex Gamicus

Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja, known in Japan simply as DragonNinja (ドラゴンニンジャ?), is a 1988 beat 'em up arcade game developed and published by Data East.

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 licenses them globally.


The game starts in New York City, where President Ronnie (based on former U.S. President Ronald Reagan) has been kidnapped by the nefarious DragonNinja. The intro says: "Rampant ninja related crimes these days... Whitehouse is not the exception...". As soon as that occurs, a Secret Service agent (who resembles Arnold Schwarzenegger as he appears in The Terminator) asks two street-smart brawlers, named Blade and Striker: "President Ronnie has been kidnapped by the ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to rescue Ronnie?", which this quote became an infamous meme and is often lampooned on the Internet. In the Japanese version, however, the words are completely different. After they heard that, the Bad Dudes confirmed it by pursuing the DragonNinja through the city streets, highway, sewers, transport train, forest, cave and into the secret ninja base, 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 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 a tribute to them. The Bad Dudes are seen leaning against a fence on a sidewalk next to their statue. Unlike the ending of the English version, the Japanese version's ending shows a list of every enemy in the game with their names (except the 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 are also completely different.


Bad Dudes VS. DragonNinja was considered by many outside of Japan at the time of its release as Data East's answer to the 1987 beat 'em up hit Double Dragon by Technos; however Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja was heavily inspired by the recently released 1987 Sega arcade game, Shinobi, as they are both beat 'em ups where players fight on high and low parts of stages.

Player One controlling Blade (one with white pants) and Player Two controlling Striker (the Dude in green pants) will start with nothing but the ability to do punches, kicks and jumps (most enemies can be however beaten with a single hit of any kind). Some moves are special like spinning kicks and the ability to charge themselves up to throw a powerful, but short-ranged punch toward opponents. Players will also come across several power-ups. Some are weapons and some recharge a player's health, yet others add a few seconds to the remaining time. Using knives and nunchakus both had their advantages and disadvantages.

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 ninja women and attack dogs. At the end of each level, a boss will appear which needs to be defeated to progress to the next level. The first 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!", a reference to Michael Jackson's then-recently released song, Bad.

Ports and related releases[]

The game was ported to several home systems, including the Apple II, Atari ST, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, MSX and MS-DOS in 1988 with the help of Imagine Software. On July 14, 1989, a NES/Famicom port was developed by Sakata SAS 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. In Europe, it version was released in 1990 by Ocean Software as Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja. The arcade version will later be added along with several other Data East arcade games to the Wii title, Data East Arcade Classics, by Majesco Entertainment with permission from G-Mode.

The 8-bit versions (including the PC version, which was technically 16-bit) lacked the two-player cooperative mode, 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 ("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 English arcade and NES quotes. The reference to President Ronnie 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 versions of the NES port are based on the English arcade version's; however, the Japanese version, doesn't show the credits but only shows "The End" at the White House scene and lasts a shorter time than the English version) and is shorter than the English one, despite the Japanese and English versions of the arcade version being different. 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 doesn't sound identical to its arcade counterpart.


President Ronnie, as he appears in the arcade version of the game, is ranked second in Electronic Gaming Monthly’s list of the top ten video game politicians. Computer Gaming World noted the IBM port was satisfactory and compared favorably to similar ports of Double Dragon and Renegade but the Apple II port suffered greatly.

Since its release, Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja has influenced many facets of popular culture:

  • In the 1989 movie Parenthood, a character answers his son's question on why the game is so difficult. Groping for an answer, he looks at the awning and says: "Oh, well. They're bad dudes. That's why they call the game Bad Dudes."
  • In the 1990 movie RoboCop 2, Officer Duffy gets pushed by RoboCop into a Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja arcade cabinet (however, when Duffy's head is crashed in the arcade monitor, the arcade cabinet changed into Sly Spy, another Data East arcade game).
  • The alternative rock band Lostprophets' first release, entitled thefakesoundofprogress, included a track titled "Shinobi vs. Dragon Ninja" as a reference to both Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja and the 1988 video game Shinobi.
  • The episodic game Sam & Max Season Two spoofs on the Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja intro in the episode Chariots of the Dogs.



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