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Retro Review: Bad Dudes vs. DragonNinja

When I first covered Zerodiv’s series of arcade ports for Nintendo Switch, I thought I could approach them as new releases and treat them as such. However, going at an old game with a first-time perspective is what I have always used the Retro Review category here on TICGN for. The more I thought about it, the more I should have just been doing these reviews under that label instead. That said, here’s the game about the president being kidnapped by ninjas: Bad Dudes. Bad Dudes vs. DragonNinja is the full name of the title, but everyone knows it as Bad Dudes.

Released in arcades in the ’80s and later ported to consoles and computers, Bad Dudes is a very evident product of the time period. The reason anyone knows about it today is because of its delightfully absurd premise and the question “Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the president?” (which actually came from the NES port – The arcade version’s take on the quote isn’t really as extreme-sounding) After all, “bad” has always often been used as a shortened take on “badass”, and there seems to be a lot of that from the time. And nothing’s more badass than taking on ninjas by yourself or with one bud in the name of America!

Too bad the game itself isn’t very good. The gameplay is not unlike that of the NES classic, Kung Fu; you walk across a linear pathway and watch out for baddies. You punch and kick them to get them out of the way and the level progresses by cycling through this charade. There are a variety of enemies that could possibly pull off other moves but nothing truly escalates until a boss fight comes around. Even then, you better prepare your wallet if you’re playing on an actual arcade cabinet. Deaths are inevitable as with many arcade games in the ’80s.

Playing with a friend helps out, of course. Bad Dudes has simultaneous co-op, which is just about mandatory for beat ’em ups of any kind to have as a feature. Should you find the rhythm of the enemy layouts and attack patterns, you could breeze through this game in less than an hour (another trope that arcade games with endings carry). How much fun you’d have to get that point is likely to not reach the point of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, though. If anybody was capable of making games in this genre, it’s undoubtedly the folks from Konami.

If you’re still interested in finding this title despite flaws, my recommendation would be the Data East Arcade Classics found on the Wii. It fetches more cash than it should, but it contains fourteen other arcade titles; it’s a better deal than the $10 you’d have to fork over to play the game digitally on Nintendo Switch. Maybe if they stopped using stolen fanart for the game’s icon, I could give that port a slightly higher recommendation.

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