Bionic Commando (book)
Bionic Commando is a young adult novelization of the NES port of the video game Bionic Commando and was published by Scholastic in January of 1991. It is book number six in the Worlds of Power series, although it is the seventh book in the series. Like all books in the series, it is attributed to "F. X. Nine," though the internal text lists the author as Judith Bauer Stamper.
In the book, Jack Markson and his partner Super Joe are trying to prevent Generalissmo Kilt, leader of the Badd, from obtaining the plans for a war machine known as Albatros which he can use to take over the world.
I read my first Worlds of Power book, Blaster Master, in the early 1990s, but I didn't read any others until 2007 when, being nostalgic for the story, I ordered several other books from the series. Being a big fan of the series, Bionic Commando was the next one I read, but I wasn't very impressed.
I own a first edition mass market paperback and have read it twice.
— This section contains spoilers! —
- Since the game doesn't talk about the origin of the hero's bionic arm, his backstory, connection with Super Joe, or even his name, Stamper had to create one. I think she did a pretty good job.
- Stamper added a female character to the otherwise all-male cast.
- The book adds a lot of new, and unnecessary, characters into the story (Tiger, Heather, The Hand, etc.), as well as strange enemies like a giant octopus. The game has a pretty wide variety of characters and enemies, so this really wasn't necessary.
- There are a lot of small problems with the book that makes it clear the people who wrote it didn't really play the game all that much. For example, the manual uses Nazz, but the game intro uses Badds. These are actually both euphemisms for Nazis, but, the book describes the Nazz and Badd as as two different terrorist organizations. Also, the book refers to the game's areas as "stages." This makes the book sound more like a video game than that actual game.
- The Badd have a team of ninja assassins, but, don't worry, the Federation trains its commandos in the art of the ninja as well. I know ninjas were all the rage at the time, but they don't need to be included in every story. Jack also knows karate because, he does.
- Most of the hints at the ends of some of the chapters are either not very helpful or wrong. They're also not presented in a meaningful order with the very first one spoiling parts of the game's ending.
- The remade cover, though expertly painted, removes the main character's gun which makes him look like a sitting duck, but it also removes all the shooting guns from the enemy soldiers, so I guess he doesn't need it!
- While some of the extra abilities the author gave to the bionic arm are pretty interesting, the truth field was pretty stupid (but thankfully rarely used), and the second bionic arm was terrible deus ex machina.
- Jack's refusal to attack enemy soldiers until they first try to murder him is adorably childish, as is his use of stun darts on hostile soldiers.
- Part of what made the game so cool to me as a kid was the adult theme. Call him Master-D all you want, it's clearly Hitler, and after he swears at you, you get to blow up his face with a bazooka. The book's sanitation goes even further than what Nintendo of America did to the game, and makes it too childish to be exciting.
- gamebooks.org/Item/3637/Show - Game Books.