On The Level

Bad Dudes

Bad Dudes: “Stage 5”

The train level in Bad Dudes is a potent brew of ’80s action movie tropes.

By Drew Toal • August 8, 2012

“Casey fucking Ryback?” In the 1995 Steven Segal vehicle Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, this line is uttered by one of the incredulous terrorist hijackers upon learning that Segal’s character, Casey Ryback, was aboard the hijacked train. These mercenary cutthroats suddenly begin to question their life choices because, in their words, Ryback is “an ex-Navy SEAL captain. A counter-terrorism expert.” The best there is. There are only so many places to hide on a train—a classic, increasingly rare film setting leveraged with great success by the action star. At close quarters, Ryback uses his mastery of aikido to bend, break, and otherwise punish the overmatched bad guys. Ryback is a bad, bad dude.

But Ryback owes something to an earlier epoch of master killers. The ’80s were a golden era of martial arts, a post-Bruce Lee jump-kicking paradise. Film stars like Michael Dudikoff, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Ralph Macchio all competed for the unofficial title of baddest dude around, but it was in the realm of gaming that these nunchuk-wielding übermensch would appear. None were badder dudes than Blade and Striker, the heroes of the 1988 beat-’em-up Bad Dudes. Blade and Striker are violent men, forged in a violent, ninja-infested time.

The sleeveless duo is briefed on the situation by a Rainier Wolfcastle look-alike: “The President has been kidnapped by ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the President?” Apparently ninja-related crime is at an all-time high, and the evil DragonNinja (the other half of the game’s original arcade title, Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja) feels that the U.S. government isn’t treating the looming ninja threat with the seriousness it deserves.

The President needs rescuing, and since the SEALs are apparently unavailable, the government must rely on the next best thing: two guys in tank tops and sneakers from Dude City. Blade and Striker must punch, kick, stab, and nunchuk their way through waves of measurably less-bad dudes. The two most memorable levels of the game have them fighting back-to-back on top of moving vehicles. In level two, our heroes must repel car-borne ninjas from the top of a Data East truck. Later on in the game, the Dudes once again find themselves speeding across the landscape, this time on top of a freight train. The canyons in the background suggest a location somewhere in the American southwest. The accompanying music is suitably up-tempo, like something that belongs in a Van Damme training montage. This level rivals the train hijacking scenes in the NES Civil War lark North And South as the finest locomotive skirmish in early gaming.

It is also an exercise in relativity. The cars appear almost stationary, and the camera pans at only a slightly faster speed, moving slowly to the left, even as the landscape in the background appears to move at a much faster clip. If they react fast enough, Dudes that fall off the train can defy physics and hop right back up. It’s not possible to get to the front of the train faster than the game allows, but this creates a sense of inevitability that the ninjas seem to sense. Unless they kill Blade and Striker soon, the level will end, and the Dudes will progress. The ninjas are getting desperate, throwing everything they have (including the occasional flaming ninja) at these grunting Bad Dudikoffs.

It’s not enough—not even close. These are some of the worst ninjas ever, perhaps more impotent than the Foot Clan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Most die after a single punch or kick. DragonNinja would have been better served by bribing some of the train’s more aggressive hobos with the promise of moonshine. The only remotely effective fighter is the gray ninja that runs onto the screen, throws his shuriken, and then runs off before getting kicked in the head. Bad Dudes indulges the conceit peculiar to ’80s action flicks that muscle-bound American steroid abusers have no trouble beating up wave after wave of lithe, deadly assassins trained in martial arts. It’s complete nonsense. Does anyone believe that Revenge Of The Nerds’ Ogre would survive more than five seconds in Bloodsport’s Kumite tournament?

But trains are a great setting for any story, a symbol of adventure and exploration in the modern age. They are at once elegant—recall the fancy nabobs of Murder On The Orient Express—and a symbol of accessible freedom. In Red Dead Redemption, John Marston can leap from his horse to a moving train, climb up to the roof and ride around for awhile, forgetting his troubles and clearing his head by taking potshots at passing wildlife. There is no similar moment of rail respite for the Dudes.

Like Marston, and like the trains themselves, the Dudes are the product of a fading epoch. Soon enough, counter-terrorism doctrine would no longer call for amateur martial artists—Ryback aside—as the default quick response to a crisis of this severity. Commandos would soon be given small arms and tactical air support, rather than nunchuks and knives that they find on the ground. Dog The Bounty Hunter wasn’t the guy they called to go get Bin Laden; it was SEAL Team Six, a stealth helicopter, and some truly scary automatic weapons that won the day. Our present-day games reflect this prevailing mode of highly trained techno-combat.

But Blade and Striker will not go quietly into that good night. As the train hurtles toward DragonNinja and who knows what other perils, these Bad Dudes rage against hapless ninjas and the dying of the 8-bit light. Eventually, this excruciatingly slow advancement to the train’s engine is complete, and the Dudes face a boss with some terrifying chain weapon. Here, it seems, is a ninja adversary worthy of the Dudes, an imposing guardian that would instill hesitation in even a tested train-fighting vet like Ryback. While the ninja grunts have failed to stop—or even slow—the advance of Blade and Striker, now they’re faced with a new foe. Is he able to halt the Bad Dudes Express? Blade’s bloody knuckles say, “No.”

The train shuttles the pair to their destiny, a showdown with DragonNinja that can only end with the last and baddest dude left standing. Once the President is back in friendly hands, he captures the solemnity of the moment perfectly, recognizing the Dudes’ superhuman level of effort and sacrifice. In retrospect, he’s not merely ending a mission; he’s ending a strange era of macho, all-American, fists-of-fury individualism in pop culture. So it’s fitting that he concludes with the immortal, baffling words: “Hey dudes, thanks for rescuing me. Let’s go for a burger… Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!”

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  • Spacemonkey Mafia

    “Boss DragonNinja, our terrorist offensive is not going as planned!  As you ordered, we have stationed our waiting cells along a single city street, down a small length of interstate in a mid-sized metropolitan area, a length of sewer, a contained area of Yosemite National park, a train and within the scenic (and affordable) Jewel caves of the Badlands, South Dakota.
       Yet despite this completely random and unoptimized placement of our forces, we are met at every location by a pair of Simian half-men reeking of Muscle Milk and wearing little more than sweatpants crusted with semen and pizza sauce!
       We should have executed our plan as originally intended -during the Carter Administration when our sole opposition would be the whimsical Magician Doug Henning and possibly the Mumenschanz.”

    • blue vodka lemonade

      Your strategists have nothing on mine. We make sure to paint all the weak point on our base bright red, as well as marking the best places to set down bombs in case any one of our guys forgets the keys to the hangar and needs to get in “the back way.”

      • Raging Bear

        I really want to maul those dudes, but sometimes a monster just has to take a breather and air out his giant, purple, glowing, pulsating heart, you know what I mean?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Johnson/501651 Kevin Johnson

      To be fair, Muscle Milk is actually pretty damn good for a protein drink.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        I enjoy pizza and onanism as well, I’m just saying there are limits.

        • http://shadowfilter.blogspot.com/ Xenomorph

          PIZZA AND ONANISM 2012

    • George_Liquor

      All attempts at negotiation by our crack team of flaming ninja ambassadors have been met with repeated kicks to the neck and the badly-garbled declaration, “I’m a bad dude.”

    • Effigy_Power

      Comment Cat will find it hard to avoid this one…

      • ShitMcFuckensteinAVC

        Comment catnip if you will.

  • X_the_Anonymous_Man_or_Woman

    Favourite train level thread!

    I’m going with Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door for mine. That game charmed the pants off me and the silly mystery and penguin detective was a fun area to solve. Although right now I’m having a lot of trouble with specifics of it… I may have to play through this game again soon.

    • BarbleBapkins

      Plus, if you stubbornly persist in reading the ghost’s (I think it was a ghost anyway) diary, despite several increasingly stern warnings not to, you get a SPOILERS non-standard game over accompanied with a “I told you not to do that” chiding /SPOILERS. I am not sure why but I always found that hilarious.

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        That’s a very Zork-y thing for them to do! Dammit, I need to play his game.

      • doyourealize

        There was a Choose Your Own Adventure that took place in some kind of house that may or may not have been haunted. On one page, you escape alive only by promising never to look at the house again, which gives you two options:

        THE END or Take one last look (turn to page 54).

        If you take one last look, page 54 reads “‘AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!’ Thump. THE END.”

      • Professor_Cuntburglar

        Uncharted 2. The train level was like, everything I imagined when I imagined the perfect video game.

    • caspiancomic

       The Huge Materia sequence of Final Fantasy VII is maybe my favourite part of that game, and the daring train-top endurance course capped off with that incomprehensible levers minigame is maybe my favourite part of my favourite part of that game. I’ve never been in danger of running out of time in that segment, but the countdown adds some tension that’s missing from a lot of the rest of the game, particularly when you know what you’re doing and what’s coming up. Plus, those levers… I mean, what? Almost every time I’ve played that section, I end up speeding the train up, but it always stops before hitting Corel. Is it even possible to fail that part? Does Corel get destroyed? Is the Huge Materia lost? I may never know: pure idiot luck has lead me to victory every time, in spite of having no idea what I’m meant to be doing.

      A runner up comes from, of all places, Silent Hill 4. Do subways count? Because the subway level from early in that game is wickedly tense and very scary. It’s when you’re first introduced to the ghosts, the unkillable enemies who can follow you between areas, previously your only means of truly escaping a monster. Plus the area itself is a cramped, labyrinthine nightmare, which is exactly the kind of area you don’t want to be in when undying spectres are nipping at your heels and you don’t have any healing items and oh god I need a hole in the wall I’m just going to go back to Henry’s room and never come out again.

      • X_the_Anonymous_Man_or_Woman

         It’s been a while, but I’m pretty sure that if you fail it Coral is destroyed and you lose out on the ability to get some unique items from it later in the game.

        • El Zilcho

          I think it’s possible to miss out on the Huge Materia entirely if you don’t stop the train. And yeah, Coral is wrecked.

        • X_the_Anonymous_Man_or_Woman

          @ElZilcho:disqus Don’t you find the huge materia in the wreckage? I thought it was required for the story.

          Although now that my neurons have been fired up I think if you don’t save the town you can’t get the Ultima materia there later.

        • El Zilcho

          @X_the_Anonymous_Man_or_Woman:disqus You can definitely miss out on getting all three of the huge materias, but I can’t remember if that ends up affecting the plot or not. I know you can’t get those sweet master materias if you miss them.

      • PaganPoet

        It seems like Final Fantasy and trains go well together in general. In addition to the scene you mentioned from FFVII, FFVI give you the delight of being able to suplex a Phantom Train, and FFVIII has the whole train hijack/kidnapping sequence.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          My unabashed love for VI was (is) so thorough that I remember playing the phantom train level and thinking, “They did a great job with the seat upholstery!”

        • lokimotive

          Yeah, I really liked the Phantom Train Sequence. I also enjoy the fact that I killed the damn thing with a Phoenix Down.

        • X_the_Anonymous_Man_or_Woman

           The Phantom Train is fantastic for story and atmosphere. The little bit with Cyan when you get let off the train pulls at the ol’ heart strings.

        • Cheese

          When I saw the start of this thread on great train levels, the phrase “suplex a train” leapt into my head immediately and I had to verify this comment was here. So, good show.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

        I finally understood why people who think they like survival horror games often actually hate them.  Silent Hill 4′s section there, even as you go for the good ending, isn’t HARD, exactly.  It’s just that 1 error can ruin you.  Since that section is so oppressive when you revisit it, you can ruin 15 hours of gameplay in 1 second.  It’s too bad, because the gameplay is solid there.

    • Staggering Stew Bum

      Uncharted 2 has the best video game train level(s), hands down.

      At the other end of the scale, Medal Of Honor Frontline has the most frustrating pain-in-the-arse train level ever conceived. Man that game makes me angry just thinking about it.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        Speaking of frustrating train levels: Mirror’s Edge. 99% of the time the parkour worked like magic. The underground sequence was part of the 1% that felt like Quantum Conundrum.

      • Professor_Cuntburglar

         Though, at some point, you have to question why the bad guy needs such a long ass train.

        • HobbesMkii

          Well, considering the number of people generally employed by bad guys, maybe that’s where they keep all their stuff–you know…overnight bags, pictures of their wives/girlfriends/kids/parents, sketchbooks & notebooks for when they have some spare drawing/writing time, musical instruments, etc. 

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      For reasons I can no longer remember, I recall being just blown away by the train level in ‘Shadows of the Empire’. Possibly just because it was the first level like it I played in a 3D game.
      The consensus now is that game was total garbage, which I’m sure is pretty accurate, but lord knows I ground through it multiple times. But even then I wondered, why Dash Rendar? The most uninspired Han Solo clone there ever was. Why not just Luke?

      • X_the_Anonymous_Man_or_Woman

         I could see the ground stages being pretty dated by todays standards but I’d be willing to bet that the flying stages hold up. I should replay it some day to see how it is because in my opinion that was a totally bad ass game.

      • Cheese

        I remember basically nothing about the majority o the gameplay (it was a third person shooter?) But I have fond memories of the vehicle parts. The battle of Hoth was an intense way to start the game, and I always liked the speeder bike chase on tattooine, even though those no-name thugs shouldn’t have been such a deadly thread to Luke.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        @X_the_Anonymous_Man_or_Woman:disqus @TheOnceAndFutureCheese:disqus 
           I bet you’re both right about the vehicle sections… Well I don’t know about the speeder bike.  There wasn’t a building in Mos Eisly I didn’t bounce off of trying to maneuver that damn thing.
           The final space battle against the Skyhook was amazing, though.  Rocketing around while a slew of other ships were all buzzing about, it really was an amazing thing to see.

    • lokimotive

      I really like the idea of train levels. It’s sort of an interesting commentary on the linearity of games, in a way that I can’t really articulate at this particular point in time. One of the first train levels that struck me as particularly interesting was Blood’s Phantom Express level. Blood is kind of a middling game, but it had a hell of an atmosphere. I don’t think it ages particularly well but it was a lot of fun at the time.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2mBH87G5HE 

      • HobbesMkii

        Somehow I find the fact that a commenter going by the name “lokimotive” enjoys train levels…unsurprising.

        That said, I think you’re hitting at something pretty core to the early development of games–practically everything was a train ride, especially arcade games. Some of them were straight rail shooters, but many of the side-scrollers didn’t allow you to retread ground or take different turns. Even most of the early FPS and action/adventure games required that you move forward in a contained way. You could sway a little, but there was always one entrance into and one exit out of any given level. 

        To some degree, I find that sort of limitation restricting today, but on the other hand, I do find myself nostalgic for it sometimes, especially in games that give the illusion of choice (the Call of Duty series used to advertise a freedom of choice during missions that was obviously lacking once you started playing). I don’t mind being forced down a hallway or into a single choke point over and over, so long as the game gives me the tools I need to get through. 

        • lokimotive

          Well I think beyond the obvious linearity of a train ride, point A to B on a set path, there’s also the aspect of limited control within that path. As a character/rider, you can move in a limited space towards the front or back of the cars, and you have even more restricted more restricted movement from side to side. But you’re always moving forward, ineluctably, in a path completely out of your control (barring some complete flaunting of the proscribed rules: you could stop the train by storming the engine, or some other subterfuge). So even newer games that offer more non-linearity are somewhat still beholden to this sort of train metaphor.

          Take Elder Scrolls games as the obvious example of an open world. Despite being able to move around the land, unencumbered by predefined paths, you’re still beholden to very specific plot markers to advance the story/stories. You’re still riding a train to an inevitable conclusion. Forking paths are sometimes available, but they’re still limited to the designer’s vision.

          I do think there are games that break out of this overarching mold. Games that offer emergent gameplay, like Minecraft or Terreria can allow for the player to break free of the designer’s expectations. Indeed, they encourage that exploration. Still, you’re beholden to the tools given to you by the designer, or the rules that they have set out. But the train metaphor seems to break down at this point.

          Perhaps the only true breakdown would be the metagame of modding, wherein you can expand the linearity to your own ends.

          Anyway, the best example of this whole long winded observation is probably The Last Express, a game that takes place almost entirely on a train and which allows a great deal of open movement, but only within the predefined time frame and events that it’s telling its story it. Mechner was obviously aware of these implications when designing the game and its gameplay… or perhaps it was just a happy coincidence.

        • HobbesMkii

          @lokimotive:disqus Any artwork that has a discretely told story then is confined to that train. Plots are inherent train rides, as while many stories are told non-linearly, all plots must contain a beginning, middle, and end, and cannot be moved through laterally or in reverse. Games that give extreme freedom (Minecraft, Terraria, etc.) escape this, but do so by sacrificing shared narrative (although Terraria does have specific bosses, so in some ways it is telling a story about an industrious warrior/smith in a hostile world) in favor of emergent narrative. To continue with the transit metaphor, shared narrative is the train, confined to always move in one direction for one purpose, and emergent narrative is a car, which moves forward most of the time, but is allowed to detour and backtread at will.

        • lokimotive

          @HobbesMkii:disqus In my mind, though, the real train metaphor works better for games than other media because you required to make the restrictive lateral movement in order to complete the narrative. In books there is a point A (the beginning) and a point B (the end), and in order to progress you can only travel the path set out by the text. True, you can skip around, but this is flaunting the rules in most cases (there are exceptions, of course, such as Hopscotch or Choose Your Own Adventure, or even books that utilize footnotes, which give you the freedom to explore optional narrative asides).

          In games, however, you are required to approach barriers with quite a bit of chronological freedom while still being enclosed within the narrative world.

          I’ve been thinking a lot about this sort of thing because I just slogged my way through the latest Assassins Creed. I see this metaphor rather strikingly in those games because, in a very real way, you are playing a character who is playing another character. The Animus is a game system, and the specific memories of your ancestors are games played on that system. You are required to complete the memory, ostensibly how your ancestor completed the memory. You must reach the goal(s) set out for you in those missions. These goals are presented in the general way that most game mission goals are presented, but within the narratives, they are also marks in the history of your ancestors. But between hitting the required marks, you have a great deal of freedom to complete them. It’s a very odd thing, in fact, because although there are landmarks in these memory landscapes, how you reach them is somewhat unimportant, as if there are only specific points in character’s histories that are recorded. “I set out to assassinate the chancellor [...]  I entered the compound [...] I killed him [...] I escaped.” You as the player fill in those blanks.

          That being said, you could argue that the train metaphor still applies to stories, because you as a reader need to fill in the gaps of the narrative to complete it. Your interpretations of everything from word choice to narrative lacunae influence how you receive the story.

          Man… I might be more interested in trains than I actually thought…

        • HobbesMkii

          @lokimotive:disqus I think you’re right about books. They’re really all trains. A truly non-linear book would be a collection of words from which a reader could shape a narrative by choice, but actually printed would mainly be gobbledygook. I suppose we might call such a process “writing.” 
          The train has come up for me recently because I’ve been helping to work on the Game of Thrones mod for Crusader Kings 2, and one of the big issues for the mod team (and especially new team members) to get used to is the philosophy of not being restricted by the books. The term we use is actually “railroading,” and it has a negative connotation in that we don’t want to force the player to have play out the events of the books as they play through the mod, but still allow for the possibility that they can do it (provided they make a series of correct choices and random events don’t occur). It’s an interesting conundrum, because the game itself is one of emergent narrative, but the mod is based on an incredibly linear text.

        • lokimotive

          @HobbesMkii:disqus Or we could call it Finnegans Wake ;)

          It’s interesting hearing a real game design anecdote for this train idea thing that’s been rattling around in my head. It seems the inevitable push and pull inherent in this still nascent medium. Games, particularly video games, want to tell stories but they don’t want to loose that ludic essence. How does the “author” tell a narrative within a system that can potentially allow for such a huge amount of “reader” experience?

          In addition, I think even the limited freedom allowed in most games presents stumbling blocks for traditional criticism. Gameological and other sites are exploring that territory, but often times it’s problematic to presume that other players have had an experience that can be aligned with the experience of the critic. Depending on when, or how you complete different parts of games they may have totally different emotional and narratological effects. This could be small things that can be overcome in the reach of criticism, or it could be much larger things that put up a real barrier to how people connect with games.

          Again, this is partly true in other forms of media, but I don’t think it’s as large of a problem as it is in game criticism.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

        Ha, Blood!  I remember little about it except that it was ahead of its time.

        To piggyback on “mediocre but atmospheric,” http://hardcoregaming101.net/gadget/gadget.htm

      • George_Liquor

         Middling?! Nerts to that–Blood was fantastic! In many ways, it was better than Duke3D. There were few things more viscerally satisfying that shooting a flare into a zombie’s gut & watching it burst into flames. The Tommy Gun in Blood has to be one of the best executions of a machine gun in any FPS I’ve played, too.

        Oh man, I miss Blood.

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

      Is Challenger the original?  http://bit.ly/QeYEJi  In any case, it’s amazing and really expansive for a 1985 game.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      HELL YES Paper Mario TTYD! One of my favorites, and the train level is just great. It’s been years since I played through it though. I’ll have to give it another go soon.

      I’m also quite fond of the train level in Goldeneye 64.

      • X_the_Anonymous_Man_or_Woman

         I have a good feeling about the train level from Goldeneye but the only thing I can actually remember about it is cutting open the floor plate with the watch.

    • Mike Mariano

      The Last Express is an entire train game.  It also have my favorite train level: me getting repeatedly stabbed to death by some Serbian guy.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

        *watches an Austrian woman eat a meal in real time*  *wonders why she is so suspicious of Kronos and not the man who gazed at her eating goulash for an hour*

    • PaganPoet

      The train level from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is pretty delightful (and has great music…althoough that entire game has great music). Not surprising, seeing as how that game is a love letter to 80s/90s beat-em-up games like Bad Dudes and Double Dragon.

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

      OH GOD I’M AN IDIOT I FORGOT THIS AND THIS DESERVES ITS OWN POST ESPECIALLY BECAUSE THE UBISOFT REMAKE RUINED EVERYTHING.

      Turtles.  In.  Time.  Bury My Skull At Wounded Knee.  The music!  The level design!  The Leatherhead!

    • Afghamistam

      For me it has to be the train level from Cool Spot (but you know, that game where you played 7-Up’s logo) – not only was the level quite cool, but the BGM was for some reason, a pastiche of the theme from The Magnificent Seven – which for many years replaced the actual theme in my brain.

  • BarbleBapkins

    Ahhhh, another example of the Inverse Law of Ninjas, which clearly states that the more ninjas present, the less effective they are. Scientists are still trying to develop formulas to explain this mystery, as common sense would make one think that a dozen ninjas could handily defeat a single ninja, but the opposite is almost always true. And once you start talking about the effectiveness of Ninjas in relation to Bad Dudes, the math becomes far too complex for even our most advanced ninja computation devices to handle.

    • http://twitter.com/Evad_Dalrymp David Dalrymple

      When you need to recruit hundreds of ninjas in a hurry, it’s natural that you’d have to lower your standards. 

      • Electric Dragon

        “Good afternoon, Shinobi Contracts plc. How may I help you?”
        “Hi. I’m wondering if you could send me a couple of hundred ninjas. I’m setting up in the evil overlord business and need some protection against these two meatheads coming after me.”
        “Well, ninjas are traditionally very highly trained and do take a long time to qualify. We rarely send that many on a single job.”
        “Are you sure about that? I can make it worth your while…”
        “Please hold…”[switches phone line]“Hi, is that Debbie at Hired Goons Inc? It’s Angie here at Shinobi. We’ve got a client asking for more ninjas than we can source, and wondered if you could make up the difference? Usual wholesale fees? Plus we’ll provide the black outerwear and shurikens for free.”

        • HobbesMkii

          Can you imagine the interviews conducted at the temp agency Hired Goons, Inc. then farms that contract out to? 

          “If someone was attacking you, do you think you could punch them?”
          “Sure, yeah. But–”
          “Great…great…how are your phone skills?”
          “I’m comfortable with phones.”
          “That’ll be great, because you’ll be required to carry a radio with you at all times and report that everything’s clear right before the good guys snap your neck like a dry twig. Do you have any questions for me, now?”
          “Um…is this job OSHA compliant?”

        • Effigy_Power

          “Also… Sir… you may want to consider the far less trained and therefore much more cost-effective ‘guys with assault rifles’. I know that you have a reputation to uphold, but I have a feeling that you will be surprised how effective a cloud of 30 or so FMJ bullets are zipping towards your designated foe. Especially if all they expect are leisurely flung shuriken.”
          “I’ll think about it.”

    • doyourealize

      Yeah, I can’t help but think DragonNinja could have amplified fear levels of the public to the proper amount if he had spent more time training his ninjas and less time planning how to kidnap a president. I’m convinced all you have to do to become a ninja is ask DragonNinja (or Shredder, for that matter) for a ninja suit.

    • Carlton_Hungus

       They need the old ninja training course.

      “ok, are we going to attack him all at once or one at a time”
      “all at once”
      “And we’re not going to run at him from both sides?
      “No, he’ll just duck and we’ll knock each other out.”

      Alas it never sticks.

  • Fixda Fernback

    But how do we filter out all the non-bad-dudes?

    We don’t let them in… because you’re living in Dude City!

    • HobbesMkii

       Dude City must have a lot of kicking-related assault incidents.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        Equally distributed between high and low.

        • HobbesMkii

          Still, thanks to the otherwise low crime rate, one of Forbes Magazine’s Top 10 Places to Live!

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      Missed out on the “But check your lease, man!” Which really just ties it all together. I still “like” it though. So WHATEVER.

  • KidvanDanzig

    In an entirely predictable move, the Bad Dudes dudes have organized a Kickstarter campaign to fund a Bad Dudes sequel. It looks entirely uninspired, and needs to raise roughly $75,000 by 15 hours of the time of this comment.

    • http://gameological.com/author/johnteti/ John Teti

      An actual IM conversation I had with my buddy Evan Narcisse yesterday:

      Me: I’m watching some Bad Dudes footage, and those bosses freak me out

      Evan: for the sequel?

      Me: Is there a sequel coming?

      Evan: kickstarter, I think

      Me: So, no

      • HobbesMkii

        I feel like this shouldn’t need to be said, but does anyhow: not all the games produced in the 80s and early 90s need a Kickstarter sequel. I know these people look at Transformers and see their own way to a paycheck by pandering to Gen Xers’/early Millennials’ sense of nostalgia, but there’s plenty of stones from that period better left unturned. 

        • Electric Dragon

           ”borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered 80s”

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          I have mixed feelings about this. In accordance with my “do whatever you want to do as long as you’re not harming anyone” philosophy, I say that if you want to retro-game, then retro-game to your heart’s content. On the other hand, the part of me that likes shiny, new things wants to caution that we shouldn’t pretend that atavism is the future of gaming.

          There’s room to look back, and there’s room to look forward. If people want sequels to pixellated 90′s beat-’em-ups, then hey, why not? I’m fine with them as long as they’re not all that the gaming industry is producing.

        • HobbesMkii

          @Merve2:disqus Art’s a product of its time, and I think there’s a hubris in imagining that something that was popular/liked twenty to thirty years ago should be just as popular now, provided you “update” it somehow to be relevant. From film, the shining example for me is The Day The Earth Stood Still; the 1950s version is one of my favorite sci-fi films and I often wonder what it would look like in the hands of a capable writer, director, cast and crew today (let us not speak of Keanu here). But when I really think about it, the film is too weak on characterization, relies on deus ex machina too much, and has quite schlocky special effects, even for the time. It’s not a grand film by any imagination, and probably doesn’t rate an adaptation. It’s not a story we’ll want to tell ourselves over and over. Similarly, with games, I can’t really concede that there are games that need a 21st century reboot. I love Transport Tycoon, but I think I would despise a new version of it as lacking much of the accouterments I’m used to in today’s gaming. I can forgive the original because it was made in a time when it was cutting-edge. 

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          @HobbesMkii:disqus: I was under the impression that these retro games were made for niche audiences, though. I don’t think anyone is expecting retro gaming to light the world on fire. There may be a lot of Kickstarters looking to cash in for a quick buck on Gen X nostalgia. (There are a lot of shitty Kickstarters in general.) But if a group of people who honestly, truly love an old game want to release a sequel or update it for modern sensibilities, then I don’t see the harm, as long as they’re putting their best effort into it.

          I’ll agree, though, that there can be a certain “back in my day…” hubris attached to retro gaming. I sometimes get annoyed at all the nostalgia for games that came out when I was too young to walk, let alone play video games. The important think to keep in mind with retro gaming is that while it can be fun, it’s not the future of the medium, nor should it be.

    • Professor_Cuntburglar

       I’m not gonna lie, I would love a modern Bad Dudes games. I imagine it would play a lot like Uncharted, but with an 80s action movie vibe in place of the Indiana Jones vibe. Also, maybe you fight with karate instead of guns?

      In any case, that kickstarter will not give me what I want, so I can only hope it fails.

  • Nudeviking

    The President declared, “Hey dudes, thanks for rescuing me.  Let’s go for a burger….HA! HA! HA!”

    To which a Bad Dude replied, “I’m BAD!”

    • PutSomeRanchOnIt

       The remake will end with, “Let’s go for a burger… LOL!”

      • Nudeviking

        The real remake ending.

        President: “Hai doodz can we has cheeseburger? LOL!”Bad Dude: “Ahm Badt!”

  • NephewOfAnarchy

    I guess with names like Blade and Striker, they were never going to go into philosophy or economic theory. 

    • HobbesMkii

       Striker actually majored in English Literature with a minor in Creative Writing (concentration in Poetry). Blade was expelled from college after kicking his freshman year roommate in the face.

      • Effigy_Power

        Mind you, he was an Economics student, so a kick to the head was probably preferable.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/FuriousGiorge Craig

    “The President has been kidnapped by ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to escape the first level of this dreadful game instead of shutting it off in frustration and beating the shit out of Abobo for the hundredth time?”

    (No.)

  • Citric

    Oh man Data East, now all I can think of is the Robocop for Tandy Coco 3. It was on a cartridge. I can remember exactly how the theme song went.

    I also had Thexder. It was rad. 

    • doyourealize

      Are using the word “rad” ironically, or is that something you say regularly? The latter would be radder.

      • Citric

        I generally use it when referring to great things from the late ’80s/early ’90s.

        • HobbesMkii

          So you don’t use it that often, is what you’re saying? 

        • Citric

          @HobbesMkii:disqus  The late ’80s/early ’90s were totally rad. Because that’s when I was a boy and everything is great when you’re 8. Like all people, I will brook no criticism of my favorite things from my youth.

          Ironically, Totally Rad isn’t actually totally rad.

        • HobbesMkii

          Ah, it’s too easy to take pot shots at that period anyhow. I, too, have fond memories of that time that Peter Berg and Michael Bay are now ruining.

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

      Data East deserves far more credit than they get. Nobody can put down Thexder.  Now, I AM going to go gaming hipster.

      I thought Bad Dudes was the right Data East ironic thing to namedrop.  WRONG.  WRONG.

      http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/triothepunch/triothepunch.htm
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trio_the_punch

      It is a joy.  Play it, everybody.  Play it and love it. Use them as your avatars.  The only more offputting thing I’ve seen that’s actually good is http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/pulirula/pulirula.htm

  • Chryso42

    Hey, somebody else remembers North and South! Hifive.

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

      Really?  The game’s outright well-known in Europe, mostly because it’s based on a sort-of-well-known comic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Tuniques_Bleues

      • Chryso42

        Well hell, this looks pretty good, ta very much.

    • Effigy_Power

       It’s a French comic that is btw fantastic and just one of many French or Belgian comics we don’t get to enjoy regularly, because everyone just wants Liefeldian steroid monsters.
      The US comic market could do with “Gaston LaGaffe”, “Spirou” or anything by Frank Margerin really.

  • Staggering Stew Bum

    On the main page I saw the dudes in wife beaters and ’80s’ and immediately thought DOUBLE DRAGON! But no, on further investigation it’s Bad Dudes which I’ve never heard of, so I’ll ignore that and talk about Double Dragon instead.

    I had Double Dragon on the Atari ST and mastered it, mostly thanks to an exploit where I could get the lesser enemies in an instant headlock and flip them, which made things a bit easier. It was always fun to get to the final boss fight as the machine gun guy would sometimes have his legs glitch and it would look like you’re fighting some dude in a motorised wheelchair, which of course to a 10 year old kid is hysterically funny. Anyway, I assumed this final fight would be the focus of the On The Level feature but it was not to be.

    Looking back on it now, when playing two player mode it said a lot about humanity. The two brothers fight all the way together through these waves of bad guys in order to save some tramp in a short skirt. Then at the end with all enemies bested the brothers turn on each other to see who gets the girl. These days they’d just have a spit roast and high-five….see how we’ve advanced as a society?

    • doyourealize

      So is Bad Dudes morally superior to Double Dragon (not to mention Final Fight and Streets of Rage) because the “damsel” in distress turns out to be the supposed most powerful man in the world rather than some chick who relies on men to save her? And as a special twist, does the answer remain the same if the president is a woman?

      Thank you Striker, but the president is in another castle.

    • Cheese

      How could you have never heard of Bad Dudes? It has perhaps the finest story in video games! “The President has been kidnapped by Ninjas. Are you a Bad enough Dude to save him?” Genius!

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        My understanding is @Staggering_Stew_Bum:disqus is Australian and therefore perhaps not privy to the All-American 8-bit fist pump that is ‘Bad Dudes’.  Sadly, I don’t think the localized version, ‘Billabong Dudes’ was ever completed.
           ”Hey, Dudes, thanks for rescuing me, the Prime Minister!  Let’s go for a Veggiemite sandwich!  Ha Ha Ha!”

        • HobbesMkii

          “You call that a Bad Dude? This is a Bad Dude.”

        • Electric Dragon

          The British remake “Slightly Tough Chaps” was less successful.

          “Oh dear! The Prime Minister seems to have been kidnapped! Would someone mind awfully rescuing him, if it’s not too much trouble? No? Oh never mind, then. Put the kettle on, there’s a good chap.”

        • HobbesMkii

          @google-6108c5611fbc5b86af5df565c4b4b048:disqus I thought that was still better than the version for [Insert Developing Nation Here], Really Bad Dudes:

          “The President-for-Life has been kidnapped by Ninjas! Are you a Bad enough Dude to imprison or execute his leaderless cabal and seize power for yourself?”

        • Effigy_Power

          I imagine “Slightly Tough Chaps” to be voiced by Fry and Laurie, with their characters “Control” and “Tony”…
          I’d play it.

        • Electric Dragon

          @HobbesMkii:disqus : That was called Tropico wasn’t it?

        • Staggering Stew Bum

          Clearly we were all too engrossed in the 8-bit version of Knifey-Spoony to notice the likes of Bad Dudes.

      • Effigy_Power

         I hadn’t heard of “Bad Dudes” either, but then I don’t have a penis and the game seems for the most part very much aimed at those who do.
        I am not saying that to sound superior, I just don’t think that would have been in my field of vision is all.

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

       Double Dragon is definitely the more widely-known game. Bad Dudes is mostly known for its preposterous opening text (“The President has been kidnapped by ninjas! Are you a bad enough dude to save the President?”), which became a bit of a meme/joke in the late 90s/early 00s, possibly first propagated by Seanbaby on his website back when that was a big thing.

      I mean, I’m aware of it, I wasn’t totally surprised to see it here,  but I’ve never actually played the thing, either.

      • Fluka

        Honestly, it never occurred to me until now that this game existed in anything *but* meme form.

      • Electric Dragon

        It’s literally one of @caspiancomic:disqus ‘s mad lib game plots : you are Bad Dudes, and your President has been kidnapped by ninjas, go kick some behind.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

        Yep, that’s where it got popularized outside of game freak circles.  I have always found Seanbaby hilarious, and, even though he’s pretty lowbrow, I’m not even self-conscious about it.  The man’s phenomenal.

        I’m glad to see he finally has a long-term paying gig at Cracked, but Broken Pixels, made with his Ziff-Davis buddies, is the best thing he’s done.  It’s Mystery Science Theater 3000, but with video games.  Behold: http://www.1up.com/features/broken-pixels-podcast  Give Wirehead a try, at least.

        • BarbleBapkins

          Broken Pixels is really great. And Wirehead is one of the best episodes, if only because of their genuinely surprised reactions to the increasingly unlikely situations that the game inflicts on poor Wirehead.

  • doyourealize

    How bad are these dudes really? Judging from that picture, while they’re being attacked by ninjas, one of them is constipated and the other is holding in a fart right now.

    • HobbesMkii

      That one dude stabs a lot of people. That’s pretty bad.

      • X_the_Anonymous_Man_or_Woman

         Or, at the very least, impolite.

  • ItsTheShadsy

    Great write-up! I always enjoyed train levels in games because of the way they could imply fast pace and movement while really just kind of sitting there, but somehow I never consciously realized that they’re so rooted in the old Seagal-esque stock setpieces.

  • Carlton_Hungus

    But even on the roof you’re still on the train, unless you have a helicopter.

  • PhonyPope

    Watch out for the skinhead with the mohawk.

  • Jonathan Cott

    Maybe all these years later my bad dudes rap will become a hit?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW1yEXcTljI

  • GeoffZoref

    I honestly do not remember this game. It does, however, seem to resemble Double Dragon and the incredible but criminally underrated Double Dragon II. 

    Does ‘Bad Dudes’ take place in the year 19xx as well? More importantly, does it have a level which takes place aboard a flying helicopter with a door that randomly opens every few seconds, sucking the player and bad guys towards the door and possibly to their death unless they are sufficiently far away from it? Now THAT was a great level!

  • hengxing

    tinyurl.com/cyk9xz2
     

  • Justin Leeper

    The GBA remake of Double Dragon featured not a train level, but one atop semi tractor trailers. Like much of the additional content in Double Dragon Advance – which added a good 40% extra to the game over its arcade precursor – it was Matrix inspired. Not only do you battle black-suited “agents,” but even Morpheus types as you rush to rescue that ovary-punched girlfriend of yours.