SDCC '08: The Bionic Commando Panel

SDCC 08: The Bionic Commando Panel

Near the end of the day Saturday in San Diego the fine people from Capcom presented a game that is a reinvigoration of a classic dormant series: Bionic Commando. However, it didn’t come back alone. The previously announced re-imagining of the classic NES Bionic Commando, called Bionic Commando: Rearmed was also on full display.

The producer of both the new game and the remake, Ben Judd, hosted the panel. It comprised of himself, web prequel comic writer Andy Diggle, and Justin Marks and Josh Blaylock of Devil’s Due Comics.

They started by screening the trailer that premiered at E3, showcasing the next-gen version of series star Nathan “RAD” Spencer swinging around and battling a ruined city with his trademark bionic arm. Cut in was footage of the fan-demanded ‘classic-skin’ Nathan, available only to gamers who also purchase the Rearmed remake.

Judd then took a short detour thru the history of the franchise, acknowledging the original arcade version and the Nazi-fighting-centric Japanese NES original. Sadly, all Nazi-killing related images will again be expunged from the remake as it was nearly all from the 1988 NES release (diligent classic gamers were still rewarded with the opportunity to shoot Hitler in the face with a rocket launcher, which never got old). He then said that while the core mechanic and the storyline will be lifted from the 1988 original, adjustable difficulty, enhanced graphics and music, ‘challenge rooms,’ plot critical boss battles and multi-player co-op and versus mode have been added. The developers also added many Easter Eggs that will be callbacks to classic 80s Capcom games, like the Hard Hats from the Mega Man series.

When the convention’s chaperone noted that they were almost out of time, Judd sped thru a few slides, but one of the skipped ones mentioned the possibility of a life-size bionic arm toy as well as resin statues, one of which was peeking out of a box on the dais.

Judd then offered an exclusive look at the Bionic Commando Rearmed ad that will air only in Japan. Keeping with the return to the 80s feel of the game, they commissioned Japanese songwriter and singer Ichiru Mizuki (Voltron, Tranzor Z) to compose a theme. What resulted was an ad that looked like the upbeat opening to an 80s Japanese Anime program that drew thunderous applause in the small room and a few calls for a replay. Judd then shared a ‘video letter’ from Mizuki who was disappointed not to be able to be in San Diego, but hoped that the game did well enough to warrant the making of a feature film.

Andy Diggle (The Losers, Swamp Thing) was then introduced and he plugged the serialized (one page per week, up to 24 of 32 so far) webcomic that’s been running on the Bionic Commando website (, and will be collected in a single issue for the special edition of the game with a cover by Dave Gibbons (Watchmen).

Judd then brought Justin Marks and Josh Blaylock of Devil’s Due Comics up and Blaylock announced that Marks would be writing a comic series for Devil’s Due set in the Bionic Commando universe.

The panel concluded with a preview of an upcoming ad for Bionic Commando: Rearmed and a contest between three audience members and one of the game’s programmers in a four-player deathmatch. None were able to beat him, but all received exclusive “evolution” of Bionic Commando Nathan Spencer t-shirts.

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