Bionic Commando is an action-platformer for the GameBoy, released originally in 1992, and rereleased for the 3DS Virtual Console in December 2011.
Pretty sweet cover art.
In any Bionic Commando game, the hook is that you use your bionic arm to platform around the stages. There is no jumping in this game. It's a great change of pace from almost every other retro platformer, and you'll learn to love it immediately. The mechanics are also simpler, and therefore better, than the recent remake Bionic Commando Rearmed (XBLA/PSN/PC).
Swinging to get around is very fun.
In Bionic Commando, the story plots you as a hero off to challenge an evil group of terrorists bent on world destruction. Straight to the point and all for the better. The action segments are fairly robust, with a few different enemy types. Boss battles all play out similarly, though there is always a different obstacle to get past during these battles. There are a variety of guns, equipment, and radios, that unlock as your progress in the game, keeping things interesting. You're rewarded for exploration and clever bionic arm swinging with extra lives.
On the downside, sometimes you'll struggle with the rather zoomed-in view of the action, not knowing what's beyond a slight scroll of the screen. Pro tip: keep shooting while running forward.
Graphics are detailed and pleasant to look at - definitely looks good. The music and sound effects are quite well done for a GameBoy game. I still have some tunes stuck in my head from a few days ago.
Boss battles can get pretty hectic.
In terms of challenge, there's a good one to be had here. I made extensive use of the 3DS' save-state function, though you do get supplied with quite a few continues and extra lives. The last segment of the game in particular would be hair-pulling without the save-state, in my opinion. The game's length is appropriate.
In conclusion, whether you're in the mood for a solid old-school action-platformer, or if you're fed up with Nintendo's paltry recent 3DS Virtual Console offerings, this is definitely a game to go back and check out if you missed its release late last year.