Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja

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Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja
Bad Dudes DragonNinja arcadeflyer.png
North American arcade flyer
Developer(s)Data East
Publisher(s)Data East (Japan)
Data East USA (North America)
Imagine Software (Europe)
Ocean Software
Majesco Entertainment
G-mode Co., Ltd. (Brazil)
Designer(s)Makoto Kikuchi
Composer(s)Azusa Hara
Hiroaki Yoshida
Platform(s)Arcade, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, NES, Nintendo Switch, ZX Spectrum, Zeebo
ReleaseApril 1988[1][2]
Genre(s)Beat 'em up
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer (co-operative gameplay)
Arcade systemData East MEC-M1[3]

Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja (バッド・デュード VSドラゴンニンジャ), often referred to simply as Bad Dudes (on the American NES port of the arcade original), and known in Japan simply as DragonNinja (ドラゴンニンジャ)[4] is a 1988 arcade game developed and published by Data East. It was also ported to many computer and game console home systems.

Bad Dudes is a side-scrolling beat 'em up where the players are set in the role of the titular duo tasked with rescuing "President Ronnie" from ninja kidnappers. It was met with commercial success, and a generally positive to mixed critical reception. It has since become widely known for its general premise and introductory cut scene.


The game starts in Washington, D.C., where President Ronnie (based on then U.S. President Ronald Reagan) has been abducted by the evil Dragon Ninja. The game's intro begins with the following introduction: "Rampant ninja related crimes these days ... Whitehouse is not the exception". A Secret Service agent speaks to the titular "Bad Dudes", two street-smart brawlers named Blade and Striker: "President Ronnie has been kidnapped by the ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to rescue Ronnie?" The Bad Dudes pursue the Dragon Ninja through the New York City streets, onto a moving big rig truck, through a large storm sewer, through a forest, onto a freight train on an old Southern Pacific line (where the titular character of another Data East arcade game, Chelnov, can be seen being transported in a frozen container in the arcade version), through a cave, and into an underground factory in order to save President Ronnie.[5]

The Japanese and English language versions' endings of the game differ. In the English version, after the Bad Dudes defeat the Dragon Ninja, they celebrate by eating hamburgers with President Ronnie. At the very end, President Ronnie is seen holding a burger while standing between the Bad Dudes. Behind them are many security guards, with the White House in the background. In the Japanese version, President Ronnie gives the Bad Dudes a statue of them, as a reward. The Bad Dudes are seen leaning against a fence on a sidewalk next to their statue. Unlike the ending of the international version, the Japanese version's ending shows a list of nearly every enemy in the game with their names (except the unnamed green ninja boss that multiplies himself[6]), while some faces appear next to the names of the game's staff. The background music played in both versions' endings is also completely different.


Gameplay of the arcade version

The gameplay of Bad Dudes is roughly similar to the 1985 Konami side-scrolling arcade game Rush'n Attack, the 1984 side-scrolling beat-'em-up Kung Fu Master, and the 1987 side-scrolling arcade game Shinobi, but allows up to two players to play at once.

Player one controls the character Blade, who wears white pants, and player two controls the character Striker, who wears green pants. Players start with the ability to do basic punches, kicks, and jumps. Some moves are special like spinning kicks and the ability to charge themselves up with "inner energy" by holding the punch button to throw a powerful long-range attack that hits all opponents in front of the player. Players will also come across several power-ups; some are weapons like knives and nunchakus, some recharge a player's health, and yet others add a few seconds to the remaining time.[5]

The various types of enemies encountered in the game have their own means of attack. The basic blue-colored ninjas directly charge the player, while some leap with their swords, or throw shuriken and makibishi; there are also acrobatic kunoichi (female ninjas), attack dogs, and people who are on fire. The enemies may be beaten down or avoided. Most enemies can be beaten with only a single hit of any kind, and multiple enemies can be defeated with one hit if they are standing close together.

At the end of each level, one of the super warrior bosses will appear, who needs to be defeated to progress to the next level. The first of them, at the climax of the City stage, is Karnov, who makes a cameo appearance from the Data East game of the same name.[7] Second, at the climax of the Truck stage, is a talon-wielding ninja, Nenail. Third, at the climax of the Sewer stage, is Hanzō, another ninja master, who creates illusions by copying himself. Fourth, at the climax of the Forest stage, is Animal, a behemoth-of-a-man who is also not a ninja. Fifth, at the climax of the Train stage, is Killer Joe, a kusarigama-wielding warrior. Last, at the climax of the Cave stage, is Kon Bōsai, a bōjutsu-master. Finally, the leader of the Dragon Ninja gang, coincidentally also called Dragon Ninja, appears during the climax in his headquarters, where there is a final showdown on a helicopter. The background music during the fight with him is similar to the main theme in Karnov.[note 1]

Each boss has their own special attack: Karnov, for example, can breathe fire at the player. At the successful completion of each level and after defeating the boss, the dude(s) will strike a "bad" pose and proclaim, "I'm bad!". The shout, and the game's American wordmark logo are both similar to the Michael Jackson song "Bad", released the previous year. In the Japanese version of the game, this quote was originally a battle cry.


The game was ported to several home systems, including the Apple II, Atari ST, Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, MSX and PC DOS in 1988. Most of the ports were done by UK-based Imagine Software; Quicksilver Software developed the Apple II and PC ports. On July 14, 1989, a NES/Famicom port was developed by Data East and published in Japan by Namco as DragonNinja. In North America, the same version was released the same year by Data East USA simply as Bad Dudes, featuring an illustration by Marc Ericksen. In Europe, it was released in 1990 by Ocean Software as Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja, although the "Bad Dudes Vs." was heavily de-emphasised in the cover art,[8] and the home versions (excluding the NES version) were simply titled Dragon Ninja in-game,[9] resulting in the game commonly being known by the latter title (including among the European gaming press of the time[10]).

After Data East became defunct due to their bankruptcy in 2003, G-Mode bought the intellectual rights to the arcade game, as well as most other Data East games, and licensed them globally.[11] The arcade version is also featured, along with several other Data East arcade games, on the Wii title Data East Arcade Classics, produced by Majesco Entertainment with permission from G-Mode. In 2018, the Nintendo Switch version was released in the Johnny Turbo's Arcade series, featuring a new, live-action intro.[12] It uses a fanart mockup screenshot but actually features the original arcade graphics.[13]

The 8-bit versions, including the PC version (which was technically 16-bit), lacked the two-player cooperative mode in any form, instead having an alternating two-player mode. The title screen of the Japanese version became different, while the English version's was unchanged. The Secret Service agent's quote at the intro screen to the NES version was phrased slightly differently as "The President has been kidnapped by ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the President?", while the Famicom counterpart's quote was slightly similar to the international arcade and NES quotes. The reference to President Ronnie (an overt reference to former president of the United States Ronald Reagan) was removed because Nintendo of America did not allow political content in games. In that version, the President bears a resemblance to George H. W. Bush, who was the president of the United States when the NES version was released. The endings of the Japanese and English language versions of the NES port are based on the international arcade version; however, the Japanese version does not show the credits but only shows "The End" at the White House scene and lasts a shorter time than the English version. The 8-bit home computer versions lacked the intro from either the arcade or the NES versions. The "I'm bad!" speech was only present in the NES version but it does not sound identical to its arcade counterpart.


In Japan, Game Machine listed Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja on their May 15, 1988 issue as being the seventh most-successful table arcade unit of the year.[30] The game was commercially successful in arcades. On the Coinslot charts, printed in the August 1988 issue of Sinclair User, Bad Dudes was number two on the arcade video game chart.[31] Sinclair User, in its January 1989 issue, gave it the award for Beat 'Em Up of 1988.[29]

Computer Gaming World noted the IBM port was satisfactory and compared it favorably to similar ports of Double Dragon and Renegade, but the Apple II port suffered greatly.[32] In the ZX Spectrum sales charts, it was number two, behind Robocop, which was number one every month for most of the year.[33]

President Ronnie, as he appears in the arcade version of the game, was ranked second in EGM's list of the top ten video game politicians in 2008.[34] In 2010, UGO wrote: "No ninja game retrospective could possibly be complete without some mention of ... Bad Dudes".[35] In 2013, Complex had it top their list of "the video games where you kick ass in the name of America" as the most American game of them all.[36]


The game was followed by a 1991 spiritual successor Two Crude (known in Japan as Crude Buster). A sequel attempt, supposed to take place 23 years after the first game, was unsuccessfully attempted to be financed via Kickstarter by Pinstripe Games in 2012.[37]

The arcade version of the game appears in the 1989 film Parenthood, in which the son of Steve Martin's character wonders why the game is so difficult. Martin, grasping for an answer, says, "Well, they're bad dudes. That's why they call the game Bad Dudes". The Bad Dudes logo can be seen at the end of Stage 4 in Sly Spy, another Data East arcade game. In the 1990 film RoboCop 2, Officer Duffy gets pushed by RoboCop into a Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja arcade cabinet, but with Sly Spy built into it.[38][note 2]

The game's introduction, challenging the player to be a "bad enough dude to rescue the President", became a popular Internet meme and is often lampooned on various websites.[39][40][41][42][43] The 2008 video game Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space spoofs on the Bad Dudes intro in the episode "Chariots of the Dogs". Alternative rock band Lostprophets' first release, The Fake Sound of Progress, includes a track titled "Shinobi vs. Dragon Ninja" in a reference to the video games Shinobi and Bad Dudes vs. DragonNinja. The webcomic The Adventures of Dr. McNinja often references the Bad Dudes, among many other 1980s pop culture touchstones.

An updated version of the game has been announced for release exclusively for the Intellivision Amico.[44]


  1. ^ In later levels, another version of him with a different color palette sometimes appears as a minor enemy referred to as Kusamoci Karnov.[7]
  2. ^ Along with a few other Data East arcade games, they appeared in the film due to licensing and advertising agreements between Orion Pictures, Data East and Ocean Software after the release of two video games based on the RoboCop property.


  1. ^ "Dragonninja arcade video game by Data East Corp. (1988)". Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  2. ^ "Bad Dudes vs. Dragonninja arcade video game by Data East USA, Inc. (1988)". Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  3. ^ "Data East MEC-M1 Hardware (Data East)". System 16. 2015-02-12. Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  4. ^ "Original Japanese arcade flyer". Retrieved 2014-02-19.
  5. ^ a b Bad Dudes NES instruction manual
  6. ^ Closing credits of the arcade version of Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja.
  7. ^ a b Closing credits of DragonNinja, the Japanese arcade version of Bad Dudes VS. DragonNinja.
  8. ^ "Bad Dudes (1988) Amiga box cover art". MobyGames. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  9. ^ "Bad Dudes Screenshots for Amiga". MobyGames. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Bad Dudes for Amiga (1988) MobyRank". MobyGames. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Bad Dudes vs Dragonninja - DATA EAST GAMES". G-Mode. Archived from the original on 2008-11-21. Retrieved 2008-08-11.
  12. ^ "Nintendo Switch版『ドラゴンニンジャ (Bad Dudes)』が3月21日に海外で配信決定!データイーストの怪作アクション". Nintendo Switch (in Japanese). Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  13. ^ "Random: Bad Dudes vs. DragonNinja Fan Art Is Being Used To Promote eShop Release". Nintendo Life. 2018-03-16. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  14. ^ "Sinclair User issue 82, pages 104-105". Archived from the original on 2013-11-06. Retrieved 2014-02-10.
  15. ^ "Crash issue 62, page 16". Retrieved 2014-02-10.
  16. ^ "C&VG issue 89, page 28". Retrieved 2014-02-10.
  17. ^ "Bad Dudes review from Computer + Video Games 112 (Mar 1991) - Amiga Magazine Rack". Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  18. ^ "Bad Dudes Vs. Dragon Ninja arcade game review". Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  19. ^ "Bad Dudes vs Dragonninja review from ACE: Advanced Computer Entertainment 20 (May 1989) - Amiga Magazine Rack". Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  20. ^ "Bad Dudes vs Dragonninja review from ACE 18 (Mar 1989) - Amiga Magazine Rack". Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  21. ^ "Bad Dudes vs Dragonninja review from ACE: Advanced Computer Entertainment 20 (May 1989) - Amiga Magazine Rack". Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  22. ^ Commodore User July 1988, page 87.
  23. ^ "Dragon Ninja review from Commodore User (Jan 1989) - Amiga Magazine Rack". Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  24. ^ CU Amiga-64 July 1989, page 41.
  25. ^ CU Amiga December 1991, page 156.
  26. ^ "The Games Machine issue 17, page 31". Retrieved 2014-02-10.
  27. ^ "Dragonninja review from The Games Machine 20 (Jul 1989) - Amiga Magazine Rack". Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  28. ^ "Dragon Ninja review from Zzap 47 (Mar 1989) - Amiga Magazine Rack". Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  29. ^ a b "Bad Dudes Vs. Dragon Ninja arcade game review". Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  30. ^ "Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25 - テーブル型TVゲーム機 (Table Videos)". Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 332. Amusement Press, Inc. 15 May 1988. p. 21.
  31. ^ "Sinclair User Magazine Issue 077". Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  32. ^ David M., Russell (May 1989), "Street Lethal", Computer Gaming World, p. 26
  33. ^ "The YS Rock'n'Roll Years - Issue 41". Archived from the original on 2014-01-26. Retrieved 2014-02-10.
  34. ^ Scott Sharkey, "EGM's Top Ten Videogame Politicians: Election time puts us in a voting mood", Electronic Gaming Monthly 234 (November 2008): 97.
  35. ^ Ninjas in Games | An evolution of ninjas in video games throughout the years. Archived 2011-06-15 at the Wayback Machine,, June 4, 2008.
  36. ^ "Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja — The 25 Best Video Games Where You Kick Ass in the Name of America". Complex. Retrieved 2014-02-10.
  37. ^ "Bad Dudes 2 by Pinstripe Games — Kickstarter". 2012-12-01. Retrieved 2014-02-10.
  38. ^ "ROBOCOP 2 - TRIVIA". RoboCop Archive. Retrieved 2008-09-07.
  39. ^ "Philosophy Sunday: Dudes. Are they bad enough?". 2006-02-05. Retrieved 2014-02-19.
  40. ^ "Are You A Bad Enough Dude For This Data East Collection?". Retrieved 2014-02-19.
  41. ^ "Are You a Bad Enough Dude to Build This Plastic Pot Sticker Model?". 2012-03-10. Retrieved 2014-02-19.
  42. ^ "Tell me: Are you a bad enough dude to chicky chicky down?". Retrieved 2014-02-19.
  43. ^ Kuchera, Ben (2005-12-20). "Are you a bad enough dude to blow up a giant woman?". Retrieved 2014-02-19.
  44. ^ "Intellivision® Reveals Initial Details For The Upcoming Amico™ Home Video Game Console!". PR Newswire.

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