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Cult Video Game Essentials: Bionic Commando

Remember that kid’s video game where Hitler’s head explodes at the end? Wait that wasn’t Hitler! It did look like Hitler but I’m sure he had a different name…

Bionic Commando (aka Hitler’s Revival: Top Secret in Japan) is an action-platformer video game released by Capcom for the Family Computer and Nintendo Entertainment System in 1988. It is based on the 1987 arcade game of the same title.

As Ladd Spencer, a member of the FF Battalion, the player has to explore each stage and obtain the necessary equipment to progress. Ladd is equipped with a mechanical arm featuring a grappling gun, allowing him to pull himself forward or swing from the ceiling. As such, the series is one of few instances of a platform game in which the player cannot jump. To cross gaps or climb ledges, Ladd must use his bionic arm.

NOTE: For the release of the international version of the game, several changes were made. All references to Nazism in text and imagery were removed for the English localization. The Empire in the Japanese version was actually a neo-Nazination and the Imperial Army’s insignia was a Nazi Swastika with a thunderbolt behind it. In the English version, the Nazis were referred as the “Badds,” the Imperial Army’s Swastika insignia was changed into a new one resembling an eagle, and the leader of the villains, originally called Weizmann in the Japanese version, was renamed Killt.

Bionic-killt-comparison

One of the most prominent differences involves the ultimate antagonist of the game, who is meant to be a revived Adolf Hitler in the Japanese version (hence the title). For the English version, the character was renamed “Master-D”, but his likeness to Hitler was unchanged. There is a notably gory ending sequence in which Hitler’s face explodes, which was kept intact in the English version.

002-bionic-commando-front-final

Additionally, the word “damn” was left in an end-game dialog sequence of the North American release, which was a rare amount of profanity for an American NES release. All officially-approved Nintendo games released during this time were heavily censored for even the most benign instances of profanity, blood and gore, sexual situations, religious symbolism and ideas, and many other sources of potential controversy.

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