Bionic Commando is, bar none, one of the greatest run and gun platformers of the 8-bit era. It deserves to walk the same hollowed halls of game like Contra and Mega Man 2. It was criminal that it took so long for a modern remake to come along and that game was average at best (however, Bionic Commando Rearmed is fantastic). However, this article is not about how great the game was, but rather the box art. So without further ado, let’s start this round of Cart Art: Bionic Commando.
The top third of the box is the title of the game, along with the Capcom logo, the Nintendo Logo and a pair of little one liners in white extolling the virtues of the game. I am not a fan of this part of the box. Very few colors, a rather simple and boring title text that even if you include the red chevron, only used 4 colors. I’ve seen better, I’ve seen worse. I do enjoy who all the A’s in the sentence “All the Arcade Action!” line up in a neat looking column. I wonder if it a subliminal message that this game is triple A awesome. I also wonder if I should stop writing these Cart Arts at 3 am.
Now, the bottom two thirds of the box is The Show. Right in the center we have our hero swinging into the scene, ready to save the day. Those who have played the game made notice something, the hero on the cover looks NOTHING like the hero in the game. The hero, one Ladd Spencer in the game is wearing a green outfit with stark red hair and black shades while Ladd on the cover seem to be channeling an earth tone Han Solo with those pants and boots. One the cover, Ladd ‘s grapple hook device is some sort of grapple bracer while in the game, Ladd’s whole arm is the grapple hook. For those familiar with some of the box artwork for early Capcom games for the NES (looking at you Mega Man 1) this is a very common occurrence, a vast difference between the look of the hero on the cover and the hero in the game.
A few more things about Ladd on the cover. I love the yellow leather gloves, like right after he finished up dealing with the bad guys he is going to challenge someone to a fencing duel. What about those bottle looking things handing off his belt. Are those grenades? Some Evian water? Maybe it is his shampoo and conditioner. After all, an awesome coif of hair like that needs constant, in the field maintenance. Lastly, take a good look at the guys face and hair. That’s a rough and tumble Ted McGinley. Who better to save the day than the Patron Saint of Jumping (grapple hooking?) the Shark?
The artist must really love the design for those wacky robot walking tank thingies since he included three of the things on the cover. When I create my evil robot army, I will not build my walking tanks with exposed cockpits that make it easy to snipe my drivers. I can just imagine the driver from the tank on the lower right just screaming “Dang it! These robotic arms are too short! Damn you Ladd Spencer and your grappling hook and luscious mane of hair!!!”
What other bad guys do we have in this scene? Well we have a nearly solid green Channel 5 News chopper trying to lay waste to our hero. On the base of the golden ziggurat structure on the right we have what I can only assume are two member of the elite hunchback infantry division. Above them, bats. Really? Friggin bats??!! You have an army of dumpy man tanks, machine gun firing hueys and maldeformed foot soldiers, what are the bats for? Why? Are they some sort of cybernetic vampire bats? Perhaps some undead demon bats from Hell? It’s like the artist said, “Well it’s night time, got the lights going and the gun flashes that cast shadows. Hmmm, need something more to really drive home it’s night. Hmmm, an owl perching on one of the humpty dumpty tanks? Nooooo, wait I got it! BATS!”
And now, a list of things that if they were given a cybernetic grapple arm, would make the world a better place:
– One designated player on each NBA team
– A 1978 AMC Pacer
– My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Tilden
– The Retroist
– Every Transformer, GI Joe, Power Ranger, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and Care Bear action figure ever made.
And so we end another Cart Art. If you have any suggestions for the next edition of Cart Art, please feel free to post them in the comments. Now if you excuse me, I have a dire mission to get to. Just me, my grapple arm and my Han Solo palette swap pants against the world. . . of stupid, unnecessary bats!