When arcade games were finding their legs in the 1970’s and early 80’s, the situations that they would throw the player into were usually based around virtual sports, or defending the planet from extraterrestrial bad guys. As the 80’s progressed, and the culture embraced the “macho man” of muscular martial arts masters beating the living daylights out of dirty thugs, video games followed suit. An entire genre would spring up around this premise, known as the beat ‘em up, and today we’re going to cover one of those iconic titles, Bad Dudes Vs. Dragon Ninja by Data East (or just Bad Dudes for short).
With a plot that can be summarized by the sentences delivered by a Secret Service agent: “The President has been kidnapped by Ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the President?” Some versions of the software called him “President Ronnie,” being based on Ronald Reagan who was President at the time. With this as a backdrop (and that this is week where we celebrate President’s Day), Bad Dudes definitely encompasses everything great with gaming in the late 80’s. There were no sprawling narratives, complex plots, or meaningful points; it was just you, the dude you control, and your bare fists. And trust us when we say there’s a lot of punching and kicking going on in this arcade game.
Today, we’ve come to share a guide with our best tips for getting good at Bad Dudes. However, this time around, instead of diving deep into every level, we’re going to focus on the boss fights in each level, considering that the stages themselves are quite straightforward and most of the regular mooks are easily dealt with.
Like most arcade games from its day(1988), Bad Dudes really doesn’t have much in the way of complexity. It’s one of the classic 2D beat ‘em ups in which the player can only move left or right, as opposed to more modern games that allowed the player to move up into the background or down into the foreground to reposition themselves and avoid enemy attacks.
In terms of controls, Bad Dudes only has two buttons for fighting, and a joystick, which is basically all you need to worry about. One button jumps, and the other attacks. You can also combine inputs or use special inputs to create special moves. For example, by holding down the punch button, the player can charge up a special ranged attack. Similarly, by pressing the attack button just at the start of a jump, he can perform a powerful aerial spin kick.
Other important control-related functions include pressing Up + Jump to perform a high jump, and Down + Jump to leap down from ledges into the lower levels of the stage.
Stage 1: Fire Breather
After running through a stage full of ninjas that are easily defeated with mere punches, you’ll come across the stage boss, the fearsome Fire Breather. This big guy is more bark than bite as his only form of direct attack is a simple fire breath that can be easily avoided by walking away before he unleashes it.
The Fire Breather can be easily handled by closing in, landing one or two punches, and running out to avoid his fire attack. Rinse and repeat a few times and he’ll go down before long.
Stage 2: Claw Ninja
Stage 2 is special in that you can defeat a special red ninja before the boss fight to make him drop his nunchucks, which you can then pick up and use on the boss.
Claw Ninja, true to his namesake, is equipped with two sharp claws, which he won’t hesitate to use on you when he’s in range. If you picked up the nunchucks, this fight is as simple as crouching down near the center of the arena and whacking him when he gets close. After a while, he’ll add a diagonal jumping attack to the mix, which you can avoid by walking a few steps back and hitting him again once he lands.
Stage 3: Green Ninja
The elusive boss of stage 3 is a tricky foe since he can conjure up shadow clones of himself to fool and attack you. If you manage to pick up a weapon during the stage, the clones are easily dealt with. However, there’s really no trick to beating this guy other than to defeat the clones as fast as possible since the boss is immune while his clones are up. A good tip, however, is to lure all the copies onto a single ledge so you can defeat several of them in one fell swoop.
Stage 4: Armored Ninja
Getting trickier now. The Armored Ninja (is this dude actually a ninja? Looks more like a punk rocker) is a tough nut to crack, especially if you don’t have a melee weapon. However, a good strategy for dealing with this foe is attacking with a jump kick and quickly stepping back to avoid the counterattack. Use the ledges in the arena to jump over the boss if you’re cornered into a wall, and remember to keep your distance at all times.
Stage 5: Kusarigama Ninja
Armed with Kusarigama (AKA, a weight and a sickle joined together by a chain), this is one tough boss, especially because he can totally wreck you in just a few seconds if not careful. Sadly, there’s really no surefire strategy for dealing with this foe. If you have a weapon, you can perform single jump attacks before quickly stepping back and avoiding his long-range counterattack. If you don’t have a weapon, however, your best bet is to close the distance, laying down the smackdown by spamming the attack button, and hoping for the best.
Stage 6: Staff Ninja
When it comes to the stage 6 boss, an offensive approach is best since this prevents him from counterattacking to an extent. In other words, there are really no vulnerabilities to exploit since the only times when you can safely attack are also when he’s launching his own jumping attacks. Like with the Kusarigama Ninja Instead, you can take the hit, and simply lock him down with your own combos until he inevitably unleashes his spin counter.
However, if you stick to the right side of the arena during the fight, you can actually use the ledge to avoid his spinning counter after landing a few hits. With enough practice, you might even defeat this boss while taking minimal damage.
Stage 7: Boss Rush and Final Boss
Like with most final stages of the games in this genre, the last stage in Bad Dudes consists of a boss rush where, after a lengthy and ninja-infested section, you’ll have to fight improved versions of all the stage bosses you’ve defeated, so far. And in the end, you’ll also have to defeat the Final Boss.
After completing the boss rush, the camera will automatically pan to the left, after which you’ll find the final boss standing on the legs of a helicopter. Shortly after, the ground will become overrun with attack dogs, prompting you to jump onto the legs as well and facing the final boss in a one-on-one battle to the death. Luckily, this not-so-bad-dude is easily defeated with a few well-placed jump kicks.
After you’re done, you can give yourself a pat on the back and relish at the fact that you were actually a bad enough dude to save the President! He even takes you out to enjoy a hamburger as a thank you.
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