So, uh, we had this great little opening spiel about how Super Joe was in Commando and Bionic Commando but was also the unsung hero of this little gem.

Until it turns out it's not really the same Super Joe in all three games.

I don't get it! They have life icons that kinda look thr same, it's gotta be the same dude, right?

Ahem. To clarify, then, Super Joe is the name of a character also known as Joe Gibson who appeared in a few Capcom games, specifically Commando, the NES version of Bionic Commando as the person Radd Spencer is sent in to rescue, MERCS and, much much later, the 3D 2009 Bionic Commando. Where it gets confusing is the arcade Bionic Commando as its hero, a blue-haired dude with a knack for swinging around, is not named in-game. According to Capcom 30th Anniversary Character Encyclopedia (ISBN: 8601200594485), a cheeky Capcom marketer is responsible for deciding the arcade Bionic Commando should be a Super Joe game (probably the same person who referred to Mike Haggar as a well-known Street Fighter in the US Final Fight flyer, despite Haggar being nowhere near Street Fighter). That same source, however, lists a completely different game that also stars a blue-and-spikey-haired dude as being a Super Joe game, the considerably lesser-known top-down driving / action game The Speed Rumbler, released in Japan as Rush and Crash. This might be a concoction of the marketing department too, as the name doesn't appear in the game itself but instead the arcade operator's manual. Not even the flyer mentions it!

What I'm saying is that figuring out whether a character in an old video game is who the marketing team says they are is hard.

... We should probably just talk about the game instead. The Speed Rumbler, that is.

An odd arcade release from 1986, The Speed Rumbler stars Definitely Not Super Joe as he has to fight against the evil terrorist Zapper (no, really)- his family's been captured (as well as, it seems, almost everyone else from his town) and with 24 hours on the clock, he jumps into his armoured vehicle to plough through the enemy forces and save them! As such, the game is a cross between a driving game and a top-down Commando-style shooter, an interesting combination especially from this era. The objective's simple- get to the end of the stage in one piece, and watch the timer because it'll kill you if it reaches 4:00, and the time you take to beat a stage chips away at your 24-hour deadline. I can't confirm if Average Joe's ride- which I'm assuming is the Speed Rumbler of the title- is indeed the last of the V8s, but it's pretty nippy and while the handling is a bit slippery, you'll be happy for it as it allows you to dodge and weave through oncoming traffic enemies. However, while it's got defences in the form of a single-shot gun and a health meter, it can only take so much punishment. If the health meter ever gets into the red, the front'll burst into flames, and you have a precious few seconds to press the second button and escape, as if you get hit or take too long, the car will explode and take you with it. If you escape, you've got a machine-gun and an evasive roll on-foot, so you're not helpless... But one hit will kill you. Just hang in there though, and a replacement car will show up, if you can get to it, that is.

Additionally, along the way there's hostages trapped in comically-oversized cages- free and pick them up and you get gifts!

Increases the length of the health meter
for the rest of the stage/life.
Can be upgraded twice.

Halves the amount of damage
your car takes. Can make instant-
death traps give you a chance
to escape.

Increases the speed of your car.
Can be upgraded several times.

First-Aid Kit
Refills your health meter.
Apparently first-aid works on cars.

Silver Gun / Red Gun
Increases the power, reach
and fire-rate of your gun.
Can be upgraded twice.

2000 Points
Gives you 2000 points.
Also replaces items you've
upgraded to max.

It probably goes without saying, but let's say it anyway- as an older Capcom title, The Speed Rumbler is hard. Fortunately, it's not quite on the same level as the arcade Bionic Commando, but it's still pretty tough. But, Joe's going nowhere if we bellyache about the difficulty of the road ahead, eh? As a little bonus, we'll be keeping track of what I suppose you'd call 'par times' for each stage, roughly the fastest lap we've managed to achieve, as a fairly terrible player of old Capcom games. This is technically a driving game after all, so wouldn't it stand to reason that there's a best lap time? Hopefully the tips we share will help you break those lap times (although let's face it, you're going to murder them and make me cry, aren't you? If you do, I'll be proud but also upset).

Keys are in the ignition, so it's time for revenge- let's play The Speed Rumbler!

Let's shake the street and get rumbling!