BIONIC COMMANDO : ELITE FORCES / Capcom / GBC
Capcom's Bionic Commando sequel for the Gameboy Color is a mixed bag. It faithfully retains most of the gameplay elements and structure from the NES classic, but somehow the panache just seems to be gone.
The biggest part of it is probably that you are no longer Radd Spencer facing down poorly disguised (and hilariously mistranslated) Nazis; now you're Cable and Leela trying to protect the magical kingdom of Karinia (which looks like a set piece out of Super Mario Brothers) from the uh ... Avocados or something like that. Naturally, there are no more exploding heads or random fits of swearing, although there is a surprising bit of blood when enemies are cut down in the new Sniper mode (we'll get to that in more detail in a bit).
Gameplay is very familiar - you move about from stage to stage on an overhead map, descending with your choice of weapons, backup items and communicators. In the levels, you have to swing instead of jumping. If you encounter a truck while moving between levels, you enter a Commando-esque overhead shooting scene just as you do in the original Bionic Commando.
What's new is that you can save your game, both between levels and in the midst of them from the communications rooms; unfortunately, a rather severe bug in the early releases of the game caused freeze-ups after re-loading a save sometimes. Provided you don't have one of those versions, however, you're all good and it's a much needed addition since the original basically forced you to sit and play the whole game in one go. There's also the aforementioned "sniper mode"; completely gratuitous scenes scattered throughout the level where you drag a crosshairs around to gun down soldiers off in the distance before some arbitrary time limit counts down. These sequences are optional, and net you a bonus item if you complete them; screw up, however, and you get jumped by random enemies (you can probably thank the "sniper mania" induced by games like Goldeneye and MDK of the time for the otherwise inexplicable inclusion of this mode).
The localization is better and there isn't too much Engrish; I don't consider that a selling point though, as the story and characters this time out are thoroughly boring, basically an unimaginative rehash of the first game's plot with all the fun characters and situations stripped out.
By Gameboy Color standards, this is actually one of the better games on the platform, and not a bad choice if you have the system and are looking to pad your library with a few decent titles. By general standards, though, it's pretty mediocre. The gameplay is fairly solid and it's enjoyable enough in most areas, but the swinging with the bionic arm in this one is more floaty and imprecise than it was in the previous game, and there's some sequences later on that really become repetitive and kind of cheap. The lack of color and personality also doesn't do much to inspire you to continue slogging through.