Retro Game of the Day! Bad Dudes
Bad Dudes by Data East - original arcade release in 1988.
"Hey Dudes - are you bad enough?" And so it went for the battle cry of a game known as Bad Dudes (or "Bad Dudes versus Dragon Ninja," but really, let's not get tangled up in needless complexity now). Data East used to be a pretty fierce powerhouse of an arcade beat-'em-up developer - you had this title, you had Sly Spy, you had RoboCop - each was gritty and stylish ad violent, and each involved mowing down squadrons of evildoers in your pursuit of the final endgame.
Bad Dudes landed in a world which was already blessed with the fighting goodness of a little game known as Double Dragon - this was a nice companion piece to that title, in a way, even if this game was a but more flat (in Double Dragon you could traverse a limited vertical plane on the ground, aside for the basic side-scrolling - Dudes was all about the straight left-to-right.) Bad Dudes felt somewhat more primitive in this way, but crowds didn't mind too much - the fighting scenes were explosive even if the moves were somewhat limited, the graphics were sharp, and (most importantly) you could kill endless armies of ninjas with your buddy in glorious 2 Player co-op!
Also like Double Dragon, the home NES conversion of Bad Dudes got the shaft and player 2 was unceremoniously ripped out altogether - this game should've been renamed "Bad Dude" in the singular. Unlike Double Dragon, the 1-player mode wasn't enough to feel like a complete enough home experience and so the game was fairly forgettable.
Still, it's hard to give the Dudes too much of a tough time, when there's so much to love in this game. You get to fight Karnov (the fire-breathing Russian hero of a different Data East game) as a boss. You get to fight atop a train, and a semi that has "Dudes" written on the trailer (beat that!). You get to maul loads of nonstop ninjas. You even get to beat up some hot blonde-chick sexy pantyhose wearing ninjas who moan as they die. The eighties were it, for real! To top it off, a Schwarzenegger lookalike challenges you to rescue "President Ronnie" at the beginning of the game - and when you do, Ronnie Himself thanks you and invites you for a burger as a Japanese MIDI rendition of "Hail to the Chief" plays over the staff roll. This game has it all.
In all, Bad Dudes had its moment in the sun, then was never heard from again. Data East didn't push it (and they really should have, because any game titled "Bad Dudes" and with this much charisma really deserved some kind of a follow-up!) Maybe it's better that they didn't sully the memory, maybe sometimes even the world of old arcade games needs their forgettable one-shots. For whatever it's worth, Bad Dudes was definitely a ninja-stabbing good time, back in the day!