Bad Dudes – NES
Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System
Release Date (NA): July 1990
Developer: Data East
Publisher: Data East
Genre: Beat ’em up
Reviewed by FrozenMallet
Bad Dudes. They don’t make games like this anymore. Bad Dudes AKA: Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja broke the mold when it came to storytelling. Save a princess? Yeah, right like we haven’t done that about a million times already. Save the world from destruction? Yawn- could we be any more melodramatic? Bad Dudes has you saving the leader of the free world- the President of the United States of America. On top of that you don’t just rescue the president from some lame terrorists or a couple of random kidnappers looking for ransom money. No, this time the president has been kidnapped… by ninjas.
Why have ninjas kidnapped the president? The Dragon Ninja clan has hatched a plan so diabolical, their intention so heinous that their motive could not be found anywhere in the game or in the instruction manual. Now this is just a theory but it would stand to reason that the Dragon Ninja clan had such a mysterious plot in motion that they knew it would damage the world itself if their true objective was ever discovered so they took great pains to insure that the truth remained forever clouded in secrecy. Either that or the Dragon Ninjas were just a bunch of assholes and just kidnapped the president to be dicks. Who knows?
In the arcade version you were out to rescue President Ronnie, obviously a reference to President Reagan. When the NES port came around the Gipper was no longer in office so instead of rescuing President Ronnie on your NES you rescued a generic old white man they called the president. Although to the game’s credit the generic white man does bare some resemblance to George Bush Sr. who succeeded Reagan in 1989.
So the president is kidnapped and everyone knows who did it. There isn’t a military special ops rescue mission but instead they send two unarmed meat-heads in tank tops off to fight an army of ninjas and save democracy. You prove exactly how bad of a dude you are by punching and kicking your way through seven stages of the most ludicrously dimwitted ninjas the world has ever known. The enemy AI really leaves something to be desired here. Almost all the enemies use the same tactic. Run straight at you delivering chip damage as they run through you and off the screen.
Who thought of this strategy? Now to he honest, I am not a ninja so I am just making assumptions here. But I thought it was supposed to take years of rigorous training to be a ninja and that time spent would strengthen the body, mind, and spirit creating formidable opponents in battle. The Dragon Ninjas look like they recruit the rejects from Bowser’s Goomba Boot Camp. These ninjas are dumber than the ones the Shredder used in the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film and in that movie the Foot Clan just took whatever juvenile delinquents they found wandering the streets.
Timing is key to your survival. Since your enemies are just going to run up to you all you have to do is make sure your fist or foot is there to greet their face. The trouble is your character doesn’t move fast enough for you to kick the ninja in front of you in the face, recover from your attack then turn around in time to kick the face of the ninja rushing you from behind. This means there is no way to avoid taking chip damage when the game decides to throw enemies at you from all directions at once. Luckily for you there are the red ninjas who drop items when defeated. Sometimes they drop weapons like a knife or nunchaku, these give you increased power and range to your attack. Other times they drop clocks which add to your time limit. Lastly the red ninjas will drop soda cans that look conspicuously like cans of Coca-Cola. The Coke cans will replenish your health and help make up for the chip damage taken.
The first stage boss may be recognizable to some gamers. It is Karnov, the flame breathing circus performer and star of his own platforming game released on the NES in 1988. According to the game manual “it is unclear why Karnov is working for the Dragon Ninja clan”. So a former good guy is now working for a bunch of Anti-American Ninjas and no one knows why. How about Karnov is Russian and this game was made during the Cold War? Am I the only one who saw Rocky 4? They wanted to break us.
Naturally to port the arcade game to the NES sacrifices had to be made. The NES wasn’t capable of reproducing the arcade quality graphics and the number of sprites on screen had to be reduced to compensate. Your character’s walking animation is choppy and there is also a noticeable amount of flicker when the games pushes the amount of enemies the NES can handle on screen at once. On stages 4 (the forest), 6 (the cave), and 7 (the dock) there is a transition as the stage expands down a level. The game freezes while the screen slowly scrolls down to the new lower level. In the arcade this transition only took a moment, on the NES this transition takes almost ten seconds. Although to be truthful, if your like me this isn’t a problem because this is when you take a sip of your beer without having to pause the game.
Also the home port had to forfeit simultaneous co-operative play which probably hurt the overall product more than anything else. I had memories of fighting ninjas side by side with a friend or even a stranger in the arcade. This is a game that can get boring quickly and having that second player along with you made this game much more enjoyable.
After you rescue the president he thanks you and proclaims you the baddest dude around. As a bonus he invites you to go for a burger with him. Then “Hail to the Chief” plays while you stand outside the White House next to the president with a whole army of secret service agents behind you. What were they doing while you were fighting the army of ninjas? Was there a sale on black suits and sunglasses at Mervyn’s? They were probably all guarding the vice-president. After they were caught with their pants down on the whole president ninja kidnapping thing and were probably worried that the same thing would happen again.
To summarize, Bad Dudes is has choppy graphics and it recycles its music over the seven stages and has repetitive gameplay. This one hasn’t aged well at all. Perhaps the game says it best after the completion of every stage. “I’m bad!”
Check out Nerdberry’s Review of Two Crude Dudes, the Data East sequel to this compelling NES game!
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