With our review of Dragon’s Lair Blu-Ray being so well-received, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about retro games more on HCW Tech Blog. I don’t know about you, but I love looking back to the games we loved – and hated – as a child. Everyone has done the whole “Top Ten Mario Games” and “Best Zelda Games” to death, so I’ll try to stick to the less common games that while a lot of people may have memories of, they didn’t exactly have long-lasting appeal.
The first game in our Retro Gamer series is one I mentioned briefly in the Dragon’s Lair review: Bad Dudes vs. DRAGONNINJA (I guess officially it should be one word, all in caps, looking at the title screen). Introduced to arcades in 1988, Bad Dudes was essentially a typical 2D Beat ’em Up of the time. It didn’t really push any boundaries, but it was just a fun game, and it has NINJAS~! I was a huge ninja fan back in the late 80’s, and I preferred this game over Shinobi because it was much easier to get into. As I recall, Bad Dudes vs. DRAGONNINJA was the first arcade game I ever defeated with my brother. Until then, we would run out of quarters, or just go play Paperboy or something.
The story of Bad Dudes vs. DRAGONNINJA is this:
Rampant Ninja related crimes these days.. Whitehouse is not the exception…”
That’s the whole story, according to the attract mode title screen! Apparently the US is under attack from the notorious DRAGONNINJA ninja clan, and even the “Whitehouse” is being threatened!
When you start the game, you are given your task:
President Ronnie has been kidnapped by the ninjas.
Are you a bad enough dude to rescue Ronnie?
We’re about to find out!
Bad Dudes vs. DRAGONNINJA’s gameplay is remnant of all Beat ’em Ups pre-Double Dragon. You get a simple 2D view, and can only move left or right, while usually being able to jump between 2 horizontal levels. The gameplay was simple, but quite responsive. For instance, if you are facing one direction, and quickly hit the opposite direction while attacking, your character will throw a quick elbow or back kick. Attack animations seem random, sometimes kicking, sometimes punching. The range of animations of the main characters is actually pretty cool; a lot of the poses look familiar if you watch a lot of Jean Claude Van Damme movies (and in 1988, I’m sure you watched a lot of these ;)).
The enemies are ninjas. Lots and lots of ninjas. It’s no wonder that the US Secret Service openly recruited a pair of BAD DUDES to help them out with the DRAGONNINJA clan, because they certainly were not lacking in numbers! Unfortunately, what they were lacking in was strength. Besides the bosses at the end of each of the 7 levels (the boss from level 1 shows up several times), the ninjas only require a single hit to be taken out.
Throughout the game, the ninjas will show up in every fantastic way you can imagine… From sneaking up on you from behind, to climbing up the side of a train, to swimming underwater in the sewers, using a straw to breathe. Yes, occasionally the ninjas even appear in a cloud of smoke!
It doesn’t take long for the DRAGONNINJAS to realize that they’re dealing with some Bad Dudes here, so they recruit some dogs, and will even resort to setting themselves on fire, running around blindly hoping to take you out! Obviously, these ninjas do not value their life, and will choose to take an honorable way out if it gives them a chance to defeat you.
The ninjas don’t vary much graphics-wise, but one of the draws of the game that kept me popping my quarters in was seeing what wacky hijinks they would come up with next. Some will drop some caltrops in your path, while others will try to get you with a smoke screen. Look out! The red ninjas will carry various weapons, and will drop them when defeated. Being a thirsty ninja, they will sometimes drop a can of cool refreshing can of Coke for you!
The boss battles are pretty much the only time you’ll be challenged in the game. Each boss has its own angle that you have to avoid and defeat them. Once you beat them, they will come back from the dead in zombie form in level 7! The final boss is one of the coolest looking bosses of the time, but pretty easy to beat.
Once you prove yourself to be a bad enough dude to kill 6 million ninjas, you are reunited with President Ronnie, who is being held captive in the helicopter. Ronnie is, as always, in good spirits; here’s what he has to say once you rescue him:
Hey dudes thanks, for rescuing me, let’s go for a burger… Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
Always joking around, that Ronnie.
After the credits roll, you’re treated to a special message from the developers at Data East.
Glad to see you! how you enjoyed the game. Watch out Data East’s new games to come.
If you thought “All Your Base Are Belong To Us” was something unique, think again!
I hope I brought back some nice memories for you, and look forward to talking about more games in the future! If you have a game you’d like to reminisce about with us, please post in the comments! Top commentators at the HCW Tech Blog will be rewarded in the future (hint, hint!).