Codex Gamicus

Bionic Commando (トップシークレット?, Top Secret in Japan) 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. Capcom advertised the game 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,[2] who was originally an unnamed member of a "special commando unit" in the Japanese and World versions.[3][4]

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.


The original arcade version's installation manual, the story takes place ten years after an unspecified World War between two warring factions.[5] 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 (or in some ports five) stages to do so. The levels are as follows:

  • Level 1: Forest
  • Level 2: Enemy Outpost ("The Forefront")
  • Level 3: Underground Base ("Infiltration")
  • Level 4: Final Base

In the final level, 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. Some computer ports have five levels. In this case there is an additional spacy level with enemy helicopters between original levels 3 and 4.


The player transverses through the five levels: from a forest to a base, in order to stop a threatening armed force. 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.

Home versions[]

Home computer ports of the game, (available for 8-bit computers Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum and 16-bit computers Amiga and Atari ST) generally received average or decent reviews, apart from the ZX Spectrum version which was greeted by some critical praise, receiving ratings of 9/10 and 92% from Your Sinclair[6] and CRASH.[7]

For Commodore 64 there are two distinct versions: a US version by Capcom, and a UK version by Software Creations. The UK Commodore 64 version seems to be the most well-received computer port, while the US version is considered poor.[8]

An emulation of the arcade version is included in Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 1 for PlayStation 2 and Xbox; and Capcom Classics Collection: Remixed for PlayStation Portable.


The music for the computer conversions was arranged by Tim Follin, using a music playback engine programmed by Follin's brother.[citation needed] The original music was composed by Harumi Fujita for the YM2151 arcade-game sound chip.

Tim Follin rearranged original compositions and utilized capabilities of computer sound chips well; the music on stage four is mainly Follin's own composition. The game's music sounds very different on every machine due to differences in sound chips. The Amiga version features music that is based on well-chosen instrument samples while the C64 version is a great example of utilizing the capabilities of the SID-chip. The Atari ST music is well done despite of the limitations of the YM2149 soundchip.

See also[]


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