Bionic Commando: Rearmed for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and PC was my own personal pick for 2008 Game of the Year and was the only game from last year that I liked so much that I bought it twice (initially for the PC and then, later, for the PS3). Now reading this postmortem discussion from the game's producer, Ben Judd, over at Gamasutra has me admiring the work that went into the game all over again. Don't miss Judd's thoughts on what went right, what went wrong, and what really surprised him during the development process.
The original game ends with a classic image of last boss Master D's head exploding. The money shot. It had to be in there or the fans would be extremely disappointed. But at what cost? The cost was a censored version. I can't think of any other game that would be a teen-rated game with the exception of three seconds at the end. Had we not included the over-the-top head popping last scene, then we would have only needed one version, and could have saved bug-checking an entire new version of the game. This is another area where I wonder if the amount of time and money we put into creating a censored version was really equivalent to the sales that version achieved.
I'm assuming the censored version was for some of the European markets that look down on gore the way our North American censors reject nudity and sexual content. Rearmed didn't need the explicit shot of Master D's head exploding to be fantastic game, but it didn't hurt for it to be included. The same could be said of the little dialog touches that reference the original game (such as the "explod" typo and the "get the heck out of here, you nerd" line). One thing from the original game that is missing in Rearmed is the moment in one of the neutral zones where the hero, Spencer, encounters the leader of the Badd army, Generalissimo Killt, and cannot attack him because of the neutrality agreement governing the area. This is, to me, one of the moments in 8-bit gaming that changed my perspective on how plot could do more for a game than simply tell me in the instruction manual who to shoot and who to save. Here was the big boss himself right out in the open without his army midway through the game, and yet I couldn't touch him without being attacked by the neutral peacekeeping force. Then again, he couldn't attack me either for the same reason. A stalemate right there in Area 15... I love it!