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Bad Dudes Review

Developer: Data East Publisher: Data East
Release Date: 1990 Also On: Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, ZX Spectrum

Bad Dudes was one of the most popular and well-known arcade games in its day. Pretty much anyone who grew up in its era knows of it and probably played it. Essentially, it was a play off of the Double Dragon series, but it mixed it up with some Shinobi-styled ideas. Of course, Data East, who created it, ported it to the NES as one of their various arcade-to-home translations. How did it fare up? Not too bad in general. Shoot me for that one.

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Graphically, I have to say I was disappointed with Bad Dudes. It’s definitely a step below the NES’ capabilities. However, this seems to be mainly the game sprites, as opposed to the backgrounds. Overall, the backgrounds and stage designs are solid. The spirtes, however, are plagued by flicker, some slown down, and generally meek artistic designs. The dudes, for example, look really stripped down from the arcade; they generally use only two colors. I’m going to guess most of this has to deal with them attempting to retain the enemy onslaught from the arcade, but it may have been a bit more than they should have done. I’m all for direct ports, but sometimes you have to do things differently so it works. Bad Dudes doesn’t really look bad, but it could have looked a lot better. At least these issues didn’t affect play too much.

A definite strong area for Bad Dudes is the sound, at least the music. Some really killer, iconic, and memorable tracks. The boss themes are eerie and the stage themes are awesome. The sound effects do their job, but could have used some work. Most of the effects sound very dull and muffled. And they shouldn’t have bothered with getting the digitized ‘I’m Bad!’ clip from the original because it sounds terrible in this version. It sounds more like ‘Ummmaaaad’. Close enough, I guess. Anyway, still good in this category overall.

As you may assume already, Bad Dudes is a pretty traditional beat-em-up and one of the most well known from the genre. As such, pick your ‘dude’ and run through the game killing enemies, gathering weapons, fighting bosses, and so on. Bad Dudes, unlike Double Dragon, also took a Shinobi-style approach where you have two playing fields; the upper and lower floors of each level. You can jump from each one for a bit of strategy, and it also helps to flesh out the environments more so it feels like a bigger game. The action is also mixed up with some cool levels that involve things like riding on top of 18-wheelers, a train, and even the side of a helicopter. The dudes have a number of attacks to use that are automatic, as well as a fireball punch and spin kick. There are two weapson you can use, the knife or the nunchakus, and icons like a cola for life and a clock for more time. Overall, it’s a basic set up, but easily one of the most memorable. Check it out here:

Bad Dudes is an overall fun experience. It’s easy to play, intuitive (other than the reversal of the usual button arrangement), and has enough going for it that it will keep you interested, faults aside. However, it’s definitely been stripped down pretty hard from the arcade. First off, the two-player option is gone, you can only take turn, which is really boring. Second, due to the ability to use the fireball punch, it’s pretty easy to progress through Bad Dudes. Without it, which I attempted just to see, it’s really hard. The inclusion of the weapons makes it easier, and they seem to have generally balanced out the difficulty with the way things have been arranged. That’s about it though, Bad Dudes is a pretty solid game overall and most people from this era have fond memories of it, it just needed a little fine tuning in my opinion.

Bad Dudes may not necessarily look creative today, and it certainly played off of the Double Dragon craze, but it manages to do a number of things differently that will hold your attention. Like Double Dragon, you have the classic fighting action, mixed with Shinobi-like elements, which generally involves swarms of enemies as opposed to smaller groups. Each boss has their own special moves and characteristics, which also sets it apart from most beat-em-ups. It definitely played off the popularity of Double Dragon, and Data East was known for lifting ideas pretty regularly, but it’s definitely a classic for a reason and pretty solid on the NES.

I played Bad Dudes a lot when I was younger, and when I sat down to go through it again, I played it for a good week or so until I really got the hang of it. It was a rewarding experience overall, and the difficulty/strategy elements made it fun to come back to. The last level has the classic ‘fight all the previous bosses’ section to it, and this will make for some great challenge for most gamers. The final boss is fairly easy once you figure out his patterns, but it does take a bit of skill so I came back to it a few times before I finally finished. Good length too.

Overall, Bad Dudes is a successful port on the NES. The graphics have their problems, the sound is generally awesome, the controls are easy to learn, it’s playable, and more importantly, overall it’s a pretty damn fun title. It’s not as good as a few other beat-em-ups on the NES, but it’s definitely up there with the best of them. If you have fond memories of the arcade version or are looking for a decent port of it, this is about as close as you can get with the capabilities of the time. You shouldn’t be disappointed with the experience.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 7.5
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 8.5
Final: 7.6
Written by Stan Review Guide