The 1980s were a very special time when anything was possible. It was a golden age of marketing; if you had an idea and you found someone to pitch it to, you were in like sin. Hell, your idea didn't even have to be good. Nowhere was this more evident than in the realm of video games. There are many examples of this, such as City Connection, Mappy Land, and Hello Kitty World. If you can sucessfully market a product, it doesn't really matter if it has anything even remotely resembling a redeeming quality. In the future, people will cite abyssmal comedies such as Soul Plane, White Chicks, How High, and Head of State as proof that this commercial strategy was still with us at the dawn of the 21st century. Another interesting example is 1988's Bad Dudes. It wasn't entirely terrible, but it was incredibly silly.
The 1980s gave us a lot of great movies, music, and toys. But as fun as the 80s were, there was also a dark side. Our biggest cities had become dangerous epicenters of evil. Cocaine and other hard drugs had hit the streets, gangs were everywhere, and violent crime was on the rise. On March 30, 1981, President Ronnie was shot by a deranged Jodie Foster fan. Happily, he survived this assassination attempt. This would not be the end of Ronnie's misfortunes, however. In fiscal year 1986-1987, local, state, and federal governments spent a combined total of 16.6 billion dollars on law enforcement. Federal law enforcement expenditures ranked last in absolute dollars and accounted for only one sixth percent of all federal spending. By way of comparison, the federal government spent 24 million more on space exploration and 43 times more on national defense and international relations than on law enforcement. $16.6 billion sure seems like a lot of money, but when it gets spread over all the police departments in the United States, it's really not that much. Police departments had to pick and choose which laws to enforce. Generally, organized crime and drug dealers were the focus of police action. Other illegal activities, such as ninja-related crimes and plagiarizing Queensrÿche, often went unnoticed. Something had to give. Something did. In 1988, ninjas kidnapped President Ronnie.
America obviously had no intention of letting terrorist ninjas hold its president captive. The response was quick and brutal. Imagine the CIA, FBI, the Secret Service, local police, and all of the U.S. Armed Forces working together to rescue the president. Now imagine them doing nothing, cuz that's what they actually did. Instead, the powers that be decided that it would be better to send two guys in muscle shirts to take on the entire clan of ninjas. Makes sense, right? If I could get a decent budget and the license, I would adapt this game into a movie. It would go something like this:
[Fade in. The White House. 1988. We see Howard Baker, the White House Chief of Staff, leading two blue ninjas down a hallway towards the Oval Office.]
Baker: So... you guys are ambassadors from Japan?
First Ninja: Ah yes, we are so, foolish American bureaucrat!
Baker: Is that like a haiku or something?
[Second Ninja snaps his neck.]
Baker: Egads, I am slain! [dies]
Second Ninja: Quickly!
[The ninjas' pace quickens as they head toward the Oval Office.]
First Ninja: Howdy howdy, American President Man.
Reagan: Well... Hello, Mr. Ambassador. Would you like some jelly beans?
First Ninja: I think not, ha ha, silly American capitalist!
Reagan: Well... is this about your Strategic Godzilla Defense Initiative again? I'm sorry, but there's no room in the budget for it.
Second Ninja: You is not understanding, Mister Number One President. You are being kidnapped!
Reagan: Well.... did you check with Nancy about this?
First Ninja: 'Fraid not! HA HA HA HA HA!
[Fade in. The Vice President's office. Caption: LATER THAT DAY...]
General Colin Powell: Oh, it's awful! Ninjas have kidnapped the president!
Vice President George Bush: What's our course of action?
Powell: We'll hit them with everything, the army, the navy, the air force, marines, submarines, FBI, CIA, ICBMs... Hell, we'll use nukes if we have to.
Bush: Too risky. We might accidentally blow up Ronnie. I have an idea that just might be crazy enough to work. Get me... THE BAD DUDES!!!
[Flash title marquee. Begin introductory credits.]
And then it would just keep going for another 86 minutes or so. Yes, I know my screenplay is cheesy and badly written. Did that stop Van Damme from doing Street Fighter? Did it stop Dennis Hopper from doing Super Mario Brothers? Hell no. So why should it stop me? But I digress.
You start off in the streets... but which streets? You might assume that you are in Washington D.C. since "WHITEHOUSE IS NOT THE EXCEPTION" to ninja-related crimes; unfortunately, you'd be wrong. The New Yorker and the Empire State Building both appear on the title screen which indicates you're in the Big Apple. We may never know why the Bad Dudes would follow up a White House kidnapping in New York City, but I guess it doesn't really matter. As soon as you leave your briefing with that guy in the bomber jacket, you are attacked by ninjas. The city is crawling with them. Fortunately, they're not very good ninjas. Agility, stealth, and style are qualities that most of your enemies will lack. Not only that, one or two hits will bring these clowns down faster than Glass Joe. If you somehow manage to get hit, you can always grab a cool refreshing soda to replenish some life.
Meet Karnov, the boss of Stage 1. He's not a ninja, but he's evil nonetheless. This chubby fire-breathing Turk would like nothing better than to roast your jingoistic ass. The sad part is, he wasn't always evil. In 1987, Karnov was the hero in a Data East game of the same name. Some say it was that excrutiating stupid adventure that turned him evil. Others say he just needed the money really bad. In his own game, one hit killed Karnov. This time around, he takes quite a few hits before he bites the dust. The lesson: Bad Dude isn't anywhere near as deadly as a bird. It doesn't matter though, because Karnov moves in a very simplistic pattern. Even when I was 8, this guy was a fucking joke to beat. Once he's dead, you're free to leave the city. It's time to find the president!
Jesus Fucking Christ, what the hell is wrong with you, Bad Dude? Apparently you've decided that catching a ride on the top of a truck is the best way out of town. Why not ride *in* the truck? Better yet, how about a tank? Even worse is the fact that the ninjas are no smarter than you. They come riding in on the top of sensibly priced, fuel-efficient Japanese cars and then scale the truck to try and kill you. After all that effort, they still die in one hit. Stupid bastards. I wonder if this game inspired the truck fight in The Matrix Reloaded. That whole movie played like a cut scene, so it wouldn't suprise me. Oh, and don't fall off the truck. That's bad.
Who the hell is driving this thing? Where is it going? Oh right, I'm not supposed to ask those questions. I'm just supposed to focus on making it through the game. Sorry about that, Data East. Eventually the truck stops and conveniently enough, there's another boss waiting to fight you. He's too damn short and he's got dual Freddy Krueger claws. You've already slaughtered at least 60 ninjas by this point and you're not about to let this Vega wannabe stand in your way. So you don't. Next!
Yeah... so now you're in the sewers. You probably didn't need to take a truck to get to the sewers, dumbass. Oh well. The sewers are more of the same. This stage's boss is pretty fucking annoying. He's some sort of magic ninja with the power to make 8 clones of himself whenever he feels like it. The clones all die in one hit, but killing them doesn't effect your target's hitpoints. They can sure as hell effect your life bar though. If you get lucky and hit the original ninja, it will instantly kill all his clones. Unlike the first two bosses, this guy is somewhat challenging. He's not so tough that your two moves, punch and kick, won't kill him though. Now let's see where this sewer leads...
The sewer apparently drains into a forest. Captain Planet would be pissed. The forest is a scary place. In addition to the standard ninjas and women that you've already fought up to this point, you'll meet two new types of enemies. The first one is attack dogs. Attack dogs run back and forth in the hopes that they might hit you. Unless you find a knife or nunchuks lying around, the dogs are hard to kill. You'll also encounter orange ninjas. Orange ninjas realize that they're not very good at the whole martial arts thing. If one sees you, he'll panic and light himself on fire like Richard Pryor. You're not tough enough to punch fire, so if you don't have a weapon then your best bet is to jump over the son of a bitch. If you're feeling lucky, you can try to dropkick the motherfucker.
Here's the boss of the fourth level. He's not all that interesting, but if I didn't at least show him, I'd get angry e-mails about it. What the fuck does the Stage 4 boss look like? Well, now you know. He's bland and tough, like a cheap cut of steak. He also yells like a fucking moron. If you manage to kill this bastard, don't get too excited; you're not out of the woods quite yet. Oh wait, I guess you are.
Fuck! There's still three more levels of this shit.
Are you a bad enough dude to read on?
Part 2 has been kidnapped by ninjas.