Bad Dudes (NES)

Bad Dudes Box Art

Bad Dudes

System: NES

Release Date: August 1989

Developer: Data East

Publisher: Data East

Genre: Beat ‘em Up

The Dragon Ninja Clan has kidnapped the President and it’s up to you to save him in Bad Dudes! You take control of either Blade or Striker and you have to punch, kick, and jump your way through 7 levels of never ending bad guys. There are two types of levels, the kind that scrolls as you reach the edge of the screen and automatically scrolling stages.

Enemies come from the side of the screen and come in several varieties. The blue ninjas are the most prevalent and can only hurt you if they touch you. They can be killed with one punch or kick, activated with the A Button. The gray ninjas stop just outside of your attack range and either throw a ninja star at you or caltrops on the ground. These guys are the bane of Bad Dudes. If they have to jump to reach you, they’re easy to take out. If they run on from the same plane as you, it’s best to jump their ninja star by holding up while you press the B Button in order to super jump.

Red ninjas should be your priority when they show up. When you kill them they drop an item. They are either unhelpful, like the clock, or super helpful like health restoring cola or weapons. There are two weapons, nunchaku and a knife. As far as I can tell, they do the same damage, but the nunchuks have a bit longer range, so I preferred those. You keep your weapon until you die and because the nunchuks and knife are the same, I won’t collect another weapon drop just in case I die. With the weapons, you become a real killing machine.

The levels on top of the truck and train are painfully slow. Movement and screen scrolling is incredibly choppy. This makes sense, as the game came out on home computer first, maybe Data East didn’t know what they were doing and just ported the game. There’s not much to do other than attack enemies and there’s not much variance in how to attack. If you don’t have a weapon, you’ll probably rely on the jump kicks by jumping and then immediately attacking.

There are bosses at the end of each level which act as attack sponges. For your sake, it’s best to have some lives saved up until you learn their patterns, otherwise, you’re in trouble. Karnov is the boss of stage one, complete with fire breathing. The boss of stage four wishes his dropkick was as good as Mike Marvel’s. You fight a boss rush before the final boss, who was as easy as jumping on the landing struts of a helicopter, ducking, and swinging away with nunchuks. I did it with one life bar and no lives left. Then the president invited me out for a burger! I’m bad!

Graphics: 1.5

Otherwise serviceable graphics are horribly marred by choppiness and flickering.

Sound: 1.5

Music and sound effects are okay, I guess, but I wasn’t impressed by them.

Gameplay: 1.0

I found the controls to be finicky and the amount of attacks lackluster.

Difficulty: 1.5

It’s a 25 minute game that will cheese you with cheap hits. At least you earn a life when you beat a level and three continues is enough.

Fun Factor: 0.5

I was really underwhelmed playing this. I wasn’t expecting anything, but it’s a step down from Karnov.

Overall Grade: 1.2

Bad Dudes earns a D+. I thought this might have been an alright game, but it really isn’t anything worth playing. I’d rather play Double Dragon for a beat ‘em up.

Bad Dudes Video Review on YouTube