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Bizarre Bionic Commando Plot Twist Explained At Last

Emily SpencerIf you played Capcom's 2009 release Bionic Commando (and not enough of you did because the game's poor sales led to Capcom's development partner, Grin, going out of business), then you hopefully came across the shocking twist at the end of the story.   More surprising than Batman's Scarecrow-induced hallucinations in Batman: Arkham City and more of a shock than learning that Super Mario Bros. 2 was all a dream, the climax of Bionic Commando involves the protagonist, Nathan Spencer, learning that his missing wife is closer than he thought.  It turns out that bionic limbs such as Spencer's arm require a catalyst to function, and the best catalysts are loved ones.  Spencer's own Federation abducted and murdered his wife in order to place her brain inside his bionic arm.  This is one of the more disturbing twists in video gaming, and it's fair to ask from where this dark turn originated.  Joystiq spoke with former Capcom head of production Keiji Inafune to find out.

"I don't even know what happened there," Inafune lamented. The project was apparently rife with development issues, which Inafune exemplified with a phrase that represented the attitude Grin and Capcom had for each other at the time: "Whatever, do what you want, I don't care."

Though he couldn't say what specifically happened to result in such a bizarre game ending, Inafune explained that the issue of foreign companies working with Japanese ones was at the heart of the situation. "At the beginning, things are very, very good between the two companies. Things get kind of weird from the middle, and it gets really bad at the end -- especially for the Japanese companies," he said of the development process.

As enthusiastic as I am about Bionic Commando (read the PTB archives and you'll find that I may be the only person in the world who throroughly enjoyed it), I did find "his wife is in his arm" to be a sudden jolt.  Spencer proceeds to go mad from the revelation and kill the man who ordered his wife's murder (among other crimes), but it's still a lot for Spencer to come back from in the end.  We've seen heroes tortured before in plenty of games, but what happened to Emily Spencer and the result for Nathan is one of gaming's darkest, cruelest twists.  Knowing now that neither Capcom nor Grin really seemed to care about how the game ended explains a lot, I think.  If neither team was watching out for the other's best interests, then the system of checks and balances that usually exists in the development relationship would have convinced someone to take a second look at Emily's fate.  If all that mattered was shipping the final product, then suddenly things make a bit more sense. 

Want to see Spencer discover the awful secret about his wife's disappearance?  Watch him and his former commanding officer discuss the shocking truth and then fight to the death: