Developed by an American company, called Nintendo Software Technology, Bionic Commando: Elite Forces is the only game in the Bionic Commando series to be developed and published by Nintendo (and not the franchise owner, Capcom). It first came out – exclusively for the Game Boy Color – in the year 2000, and is a sequel to Bionic Commando on the Game Boy.
You can play as either a male or female commando, which you choose at the beginning of the game. You parachute in and must fight your way to the end of a level; shooting enemy soldiers and entering enemy communication rooms where you can receive messages from your own side; tap enemy communications; change weapons, and save the game.
Although you can’t jump you can use your bionic arm to swing from platform to platform (if they’re within reach). You can also drop down from a platform by pressing down twice on the d-pad, and holding up or down for a few seconds will also scroll the screen a little to give you a better view of the area. With some practise it is possible to make daring jumps and swings with your bionic arm. The technique is to grab a platform above you, then press down to drop, and immediately use your arm again. This should allow you to keep swinging horizontally.
In-between levels you’re presented with a map of stages, with enemies moving around it. You obviously start on stage one, but when you move to subsequent stages you can encounter an enemy convoy, in which case the view will switch to a scrolling overhead view where you must shoot all the hostiles (or hit them with your spinning bionic arm), then destroy a ‘boss’ vehicle, to deal with the encounter.
Occasionally you’ll also get a new gadget to play with, like the sniper scope on the first level. With this you can aim at a tower in the distance, and then the view cuts to a zoomed-in perspective, allowing you to snipe enemy soldiers. If you manage to shoot all the enemies quickly a friendly ship will drop supplies for you. If you’re too slow you’ll be attacked by enemy soldiers. It’s a simple minigame, but at least a novel way of varying the action. From the second level onward you get access to ‘energy pills’ that allow you to replenish your health bar (by pressing Select during play).
You’ll also get an occasional boss and sub-boss battle to deal with, but with a bit of thought they’re usually fairly easy to beat.
Bionic Commando: Elite Forces is a decent game and a good expansion of the Bionic Commando concept. Using the arm is easy (when you get used to it) and it’s good to see extra viewpoints being used, new weapons being introduced, and a choice between playable characters. Overall, it’s well worth playing now.