“Are you a bad enough dude to rescue Ronnie?”
Who wouldn’t look at that question and say, “hell yeah I’m bad enough!”? In 1988 Data East, who was an arcade game kingpin, developed Bad Dudes vs. DragonNinja, or better known as simply Bad Dudes. The game was a side-scrolling beat’em up that asked you to save President Ronnie, who was obviously based on Ronald Reagan, from ninjas who had kidnapped him right out of Washington, D.C.
Featuring two street brawlers known as Striker and Blade, a Secret Service agent had for some unknown reason picked you out of the blue to save the nation’s main man. In fact, one has to wonder if the word on the streets were that both guys were massive ass kickers, or if the agent simply dug the way you dressed and figured you knew how to tear up some ninja tail. Regardless, the fight was on!
I distinctly recall coming across the arcade version of the game at a local liquor store about a block or so from the apartments I used to live at when I was a kid in Los Angeles. You can imagine that as an 8-year old kid, being asked if I was “bad enough” was a challenge you just couldn’t resist. Fortunately the game, at least at the time, was pretty damn fun to play. With only the ability to kick, punch and jump, the two Bad Dudes were easy to use and luckily, enemies only required a punch or two to knock out. I suppose ninjas don’t have great chins or something. In addition, you could pull off special moves like charged punches or spinning kicks, while weapons like nun-chucks and knives were at times accessible. You had to of course keep an eye on your health meter, while also trying to finish off the level before time ran out, which for me, was just as challenging if not more so, than not getting beat down. Of course, playing with 2-players was always more enjoyable and helpful when the screen became littered with pissed off DragonNinjas. Each level would then end with a boss battle that usually required a couple of quarters to beat…no, not because the game asked you to put in more quarters, but because I more often than not got annihilated.
Perhaps one of the better moments of the game, which at least for me, had a lasting impression, was the voice-over after completing a level. After beating down a boss, the two players would take a post, ala Edge & Christian (WWE) and yell out, “I’m bad!”
I have to admit though, while the game doesn’t exactly hold up too well these days, and was even a part of a Data East arcade game compilation for the Wii, I couldn’t get enough of it back in the day. Strangely enough, while the game received an NES port, I never did pick it up, either because I had my Bad Dudes fix beforehand or I could play it occasionally at a friend’s house.
Still the game is a kick and to this day, still pretty tough, as Steve Martin put it best (in the movie Parenthood), when asked about why the game is so difficult: “Because…they’re bad dudes!”
So are you “bad enough”?