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- Nathan "Rad" Spencer
- Super Joe
- Generalissimo Killt - (General Wiseman in Japan)
- Master-D - (Adolf Hitler in Japan)
- Heavy Soldier
- Rocket Soldier
- Short Soldier
- Crate Soldier
- Flamethrower Soldier
- Mech Pilot
In the NES version, "Rad" Spencer traverses through five levels from a forest to a base, in order to stop a threatening armed force and to save Super Joe. Spencer is equipped with a bionic arm featuring a grappling gun, allowing him to pull himself forward or swing from the ceiling.
At the time, the game was notable for being one of the few instances of a platform game in which the player cannot jump. To cross gaps or climb ledges, the hero must use his bionic arm. The levels themselves are, like any conventional platformer, straightforward, with many situations in which there are enemies, cliffs, pits and other dangers lying in wait, that must be overcome.
Prizes like points and power-ups can only be obtained from crates that come on the screen in a parachute, which can be revealed by shooting them.
Unlike most of the later games, the player cannot use the arm and shoot at the same time, the arm cannot be used in the air and the only power-ups are weapon enhancements.
In the original Japanese version of Bionic Commando, the boss of the game is Adolf Hitler instead of Master-D. Hitler could be seen in the background of the original Japanese box art. However, even the Japanese art was altered to remove Hitler (as seen in the image to the right). Due to censorship issues, all references of Nazism were removed in the U.S. version. In Bionic Commando Rearmed, he is referred to as "The Leader".
In the Japanese arcade original, Super Joe was the hero, not Rad Spencer of the home consoles.
NES Version [Staff]
NOTE: The original arcade game music was composed by Harumi Fujita (uncredited). Two themes from that version were re-used and re-arranged for the NES version by Junko Tamiya, who also composed several new pieces for the home version. The Game Boy version lacks a credit list, but one credit is known: freelancer Kouji Murata (then employed by Minakuchi Engineering), who handled all of the game's sound aspects (as stated on his official worklist).