By Michael Allen Rose
Bad Dudes Vs. Dragon Ninja, the 1988 classic platforming beat-em-up by Data East, provides a perfect framework to discuss the relative badness of good manners. This game, of course, is a relic from those halcyon days of yore when “bad” meant “good” and “sick” meant you were “an awesome skateboarder,” not “riddled with dysentery.” Kind of like how inflammable and flammable mean the same thing, which is only evident to people who buy “inflammable materials” to keep all their old paint cans and frayed electrical cords safely stored in. To be a bad dude was an order of a higher calling, like joining the priesthood or becoming the pectoral oiler backstage at a bodybuilding competition. It was important. It was heroic. It was, in a word, “bad.” But, how to become a bad enough dude to do something great, like say, rescuing the president? Bad Dudes led the way, demonstrating both good and bad behavior for a generation of young video game nerds.
Dragon Ninjas travel via gas-guzzling sedans and large trucks, leaving a large carbon footprint.
Ninjas in this game come at the dudes from all sides. Leaping up into the air and coming down on top of them, swinging swords. From the sides, throwing ninja stars and smoke grenades. From below, hiding under the surface of the sewage below the city. But, most of them come from atop various cars and trucks. Sure, they carpool, riding two or three ninjas to a hatchback, but still, the highway is absolutely stuffed with traffic, and if there weren’t so many ninjas, all commuting at once, the roads would be less congested, and ninja-related traffic jams would drop by up to 75%.
Bad Dudes commute to work using clean, reliable public transportation, like trains.
Bad Dudes never use cars. They ride around atop trains and commercial semi-trucks, saving fuel and contributing to resource conservation. They are also conscious enough to ride on top of the vehicles, which saves seats for less bad passengers who need them more.
Dragon Ninjas are irresponsible regarding fire safety.
Ninjas do not care about fire safety. Smokey the Bear never really did connect with ninjas, and even in the woods, they often set themselves on fire and run around like maniacs. Local wildlife rarely knows what to make of this. Either because of heavy drinking, or some unknown biological factor, ninjas are highly flammable, making them excellent kindling, and poor forest rangers.
Bad Dudes are kind to wild animals.
Dudes enjoy petting cats, dogs, wolves, canaries, snakes, and badgers, among other things. The telltale “bark bark” of approaching wild dogs doesn’t set off the danger alarm for a truly bad dude. The dude will instead brace himself for licks and hugs and the joy of connecting with nature.
Dragon Ninjas prey on the insecurities of others to goad them into pointless violence.
Dragon ninjas like to bully those who are less awesome and start trouble. One of the ancient ninja secrets is how to exploit the insecurities of others and make them do self-destructive things, like hanging out in the sewers, or going for helicopter rides without seatbelts. The titular bad dudes get into a lot of fights that they might otherwise have avoided, mostly because of ninja attacks on their self-esteem.
Bad Dudes hold elevators for the differently abled, including cyborgs.
Only the baddest of dudes spend their energy and time helping others. This is especially courageous in a world where time can only be gained by picking up and collecting clocks, and health can only be restored through the excessive application of Coca-Cola cans. A truly bad dude will hold an elevator for a cyborg, help a ninja grandmother cross a busy street (no doubt filled with commuter ninja trucks), or even share nunchucks with a friend.
Ninjas carry around knives, stabbing people and causing injuries.
Bad Dudes is chock full of things trying to kill you. There are fire-breathing fat guys from other games, angry grapple-swinging train conductors, and too many ninjas to shake a stick at. They take every opportunity to stab a dude when they see a dude. There’s no talking, no chance to make a new friend, just stabbing. It’s rude, is what it is.
Bad Dudes are always willing to lend a hand to others, including spontaneous chiropractic care and popping limbs back into sockets.
In a universe where medical care is hard to come by, and costs a buck to get it out of a machine, it is important to find helpful people. Bad dudes will help anyone who asks, whether it’s a kick to the head to cure a splitting headache, a fiery gut punch to induce vomiting after someone eats a poison cheeseburger, or simply resetting a limb that’s been wrecked from overpunching.
Dragon Ninjas hang out on top of trucks until all hours, getting up to no good and smoking cigarettes.
Ninjas are bad news, everyone knows this, but few people know that the stereotypical teens that hang out behind convenience stores, glaring at customers and smoking are actually secret ninjas. Notice how they mostly dress in black? How they think swords are cool? How they remember all the combos for fatalities in Mortal Kombat. Ninjas.
Bad Dudes carefully monitor the time so that they’re never late for dinner.
Bad dudes know that if they aren’t home for dinner on time, it’ll get cold, and their loved ones will worry. That’s why they are always collecting time-pieces, clocks, watches, and sundials. So they always know what time it is and don’t make anybody wait on their account. Not like dragon ninjas, who will often blow off appointments so they can hang out, smoke drugs, and sharpen their ninja throwing stars.
Dragon Ninjas don’t develop their own sense of style, letting peer pressure direct their fashion choices.
Ninja fashion is pretty plain, but dragon ninjas take this to the next level. They’ll all dress alike. One ninja will decide on a forest green suit, and the next thing you know, the sewers are filled with green ninjas, flipping around and swearing.
Bad Dudes are secure in themselves, allowing their badness to unite them under a cause, but never losing their individuality.
Bad dudes enjoy tank tops, t-shirts, jeans, and fingerless gloves. They don’t let people judge them for their fashion choices. They dress for comfort over style, not chasing trends or fads. Fishnets, primary colors, and high boots define the look of a bad dude of the female persuasion. A bad dude of any gender identity owns their sexuality and the image they project to the world. They are comfortable, secure, and protected from the elements. And, if there’s something their clothing doesn’t protect them against, there are always nunchucks.
Dragon Ninjas kidnap the president, while engaging in a rash of ninja related crimes.
Bad Dudes rescue the president, then go for all-American hamburger sandwiches.
As the astute reader can tell, much like the Highlights duo Goofus and Gallant, much can be learned from the behavior of Bad Dudes Vs. Dragon Ninja. Dragon Ninjas steal all the hamburgers. Bad Dudes share their coke with friends. Dragon Ninjas rudely leap from truck to truck on the expressway, startling commuters. Bad Dudes carefully step between containers on the same semi, to avoid distracting drivers. Dragon Ninjas are bad news. Bad Dudes are Bad Dudes. This has been a message from the Arcade Anomalies Safety Council.
Michael Allen Rose is a writer, musician, editor and performance artist based in Chicago, Illinois. His stories have been published in such periodicals and anthologies as the Magazine of Bizarro Fiction, Heavy Feather Review, and Tales From The Crust. He has published several books including Embry: Hard Boiled (Eraserhead Press), Rock And Roll Death Patrol (Rooster Republic Press), The Indifference Of Heaven (Omnium Gatherum) and more. In Spring of 2021, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing released Michael’s newest book, Jurassichrist. He is the host of the annual Ultimate Bizarro Showdown at Bizarro Con in Portland, OR. Michael also releases industrial music under the name Flood Damage. He lives with an awesome cat, helps his girlfriend make internet porn, and enjoys good tea.