Friday, January 6, 2006

Bad Dudes

I vividly remember the long wait for this one's release. Originally sent to the US as a stand-up arcade game, dubbed Bad Dudes vs. Dragonninja, this little puppy swallowed far too many of my youthful quarters as I attempted in vain to save our beloved president from the evil hands of... uh... left-leaning ninja assassins. The seemingly endless pause between the arcade version and the home console release was almost too much for me, especially considering I had no idea if it actually was coming to a home platform near me. Alas, the day did come when my middle school chum, Chris, managed to snag a copy and the two of us sat down to kick a little masked assassinass.

We were pleased to see each of the arcade machine's levels were faithfully reproduced, and in a day and age when graphics were the primary concern, (for me, at least... "gameplay"? What the hell was that?) I was immediately appeased. Though the blocky 8-bit chunks weren't an exact duplication of the buff, sweaty, black-wife-beater-adorned heroes of the quarter-muncher, they at least looked somewhat similar to the men I remembered from the arcade. The guy at the end of the first level still had bright red pants, and each of the ninjas had remembered to color-code their attire to match their choice in weaponry--that was all I needed to give it a thumbs up.

Now that I've gone back, some ten years later, to play the little cart that saved me from a lifetime in a bowling alley arcade room, I'm a little bit less impressed. Time has not been kind to our Bad Dudes, I'm afraid.

Our little gem has two levels upon which to fight the ninja hordes which descend upon you mercilessly: a street-level and a 'balancing on top of a fence' level. As a seriously bad dude, you can jump between the platforms at your own leisure, frightening the blue men that were in the process of charging you and providing means for a quick escape. Unfortunately, this feature only seemed to work when the dudes felt up to it. Occasionally I'd attempt to escape assault by jumping to the top of the fence, only to watch my little man offer a halfhearted skip, directly into the enemy's punches. No matter.

The difficulty's a little high, and the cheap hits are a-plenty. There's a level on the roof of a speeding tractor trailer, providing means to an easy suicide if you choose to take the plunge down to the street-level, although the dudes do their best to keep up on foot until they meet the crushing force of the left side of the screen. Bless their hearts, that's gotta be worth something.

Oh yeah, and I'd hate myself if I didn't mention how absolutely, mind-bendingly awful the audio in this game is. Seriously. Go scrape a full set of forks, knives and spoons against the edge of a rusty sign for about half an hour. It's probably a more enjoyable audio experience. It's unbelievably funny listening to the NES audio hardware strain and struggle as it attempts to broadcast the trademark "I'm BAD" voice-over that accompanied the end of every stage in the arcade version.

I grew tired with this one within about 5 minutes, as that's about how long it took me to lose my first collection of three lives. I went back and MAME'd the original arcade machine, just for completion's sake, and breezed through it on the buoy of an unlimited supply of free "quarters." It wasn't much better.

Decent.. nothing more, nothing less.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 4.7

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