Arcade Flyer Art Saturday: Top Secret/Bionic Commando

Arcade Flyer Art Saturday: Top Secret/Bionic Commando
In honour of my trip to Tokyo, I thought it might be interesting to do a little Japan to US comparison Arcade Flyer Art Saturday. This week’s choice was a perfect pick since it not only has different flyers for each country, but a rich history of different gameplay as well. So let’s dive right into it shall we?

In 1987, Capcom released Top Secret into Japanese arcades and simultaneously released the same game in the US under the name Bionic Commando. The game was a side scrolling platformer/fighter starring Super Joe who had formerly appeared in a previous game, Commando. This time around, Joe had a grappling hook-like bionic arm that would allow him to swing over gaps since unlike most games of the time, he could not jump. His robotic super arm could also be employed to take out various enemies, along with his gun which could be used to collect the bonuses and weapons that would arrive from the sky via parachute. Once the game moved from arcades to consoles however, things got really interesting and the games themselves became more diverse.Capcom waited until 1988 to bring Bionic Commando to the NES and by that time it had undergone a bit of a change moving from platformer to action/adventure title. The Japanese version was called Top Secret: Hitler’s Revival and this time, the player was pitted against Super Nazis and eventually Hitler himself who had been resurrected from the dead by mad scientists. Needless to say, when the US version was released a few months later, all references to Nazis were expunged from the storyline and graphics reworked although the final boss, Master-D, was still unmistakably Hitler. One shocking moment at the end even had Hitler’s head exploding which was kept in all versions of the game despite Nintendo of America’s strict policies.

The flyers for the arcade game reflected the different styles of the cultures the machine was being sold to. The Japanese version is done in an anime style with blue spiky haired almost Dragon Ball-Z style heroes, a bizarre giant squid robot thing in the background and old school army enemies with guns and bayonettes. The US version has a much more typical American comic book look with Aliens-esque robot loader suited enemies, bats, helicopters and a solitary hero. The Japanese flyer inexplicably includes a second hero although the game itself was strictly single player.

And thus ends our first Japanese to American flyer comparison. Stay tuned next week for another special edition of Arcade Flyer Art Saturday where I’ll dig up a gallery of flyers for some more well known games that you might know how to play, but who’s advertising to the arcade owners at large you may have never seen.

Flyers courtesy TAFA.


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