Heat Wave

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Heat Wave
Composer Junko Tamiya
Released 1988-07-20
Title Origin Official
Loops Yes

Heat Wave is a song from the Bionic Commando series. The song was not heard in the original arcade game, but was instead composed by Junko Tamiya for the NES port. It has since been remixed by several other composers for different games in the series. The song has a slower, much more somber feel to it than the game's other tracks.


This song went without an official title for 21 years until 2008 when Simon Wiklund created titles for several songs from the franchise for the official Bionic Commando: The 8-bit Soundtrack album. Prior to that, the song was usually referred to as Area 5, although various other unofficial titles were used on the Internet like "Anguish" and "Mary, Mary". It is not known whether the song's composer, Junko Tamiya had ever title the song.


Junko Tamiya probably composed this song in the first half of 1988. She most likely composed the song on a keyboard then converted the notes to hexadecimal to work with Yoshihiro Sakaguchi's NES audio driver. It is unlikely that Tamiya was involved in the PAL release of the game because no steps were taken to adjust the tempo for the slower processor.

The song has two sections, each divided by a break. The second half is similar to the first, but it expands upon the melody. Both sections begin with slow lower-pitch harmonizing notes, then, as the each section nears completion, the pitch rises and the notes increase in tempo. Throughout the song, a repetitive beat is kept with drums and a constant bass, stopping only during the breaks. There are a few flourishes of rapidly rising scales in each section where the harmony echos the melody.


Bionic Commando (NES)

Platform - NES.png
Bionic Commando (NES)
Output - NES.svg
Bionic Commando - NES - Heat Wave.png
Arranger Junko Tamiya
Released 1988-07-20
Length 1:00.73
Format NSF
Junko Tamiya's composition is one of the better examples of how well an electric guitar can be emulated on the NES. The song is played in some of the game's most difficult areas: 5, 6, and 10.

In the 8-bit soundtrack liner notes, Jeffery King writes:

With a markedly slower pace than most songs in BC, this ominous song reminds me of a desert, probably because of the Area 05's blood-red sky (or maybe it's orange). The three opening notes are pretty low, but the notes get higher and higher - appropriate for the huge tower you have to scale in Area 05.

The song is rendered on the NES's RP2A03 chip for NTSC cartridges and the RP2A07 chip for PAL cartridges. The PAL chip runs at a slower clock speed for which the game designers did not compensate. Because of this, the song plays at a noticeably slower tempo for all the European regions.

As far as the utilization of the chips is concerned, the first square wave channel is used for the melody, the second for the harmony. The triangle wave is the constant droning bass which is only interrupted during the song's break. The noise channel plays the drums, and the DPCM channel is not used.

The song is track 6 in the NSF and NSFE rips. A VGM rip has yet to be made.

Bionic Commando (AST)

Platform - AST.png
Bionic Commando (AST)
Output - SSG.svg
Arranger Tim Follin
Programmer Mike Follin
Released 1988-??-??
Length 1:12.95
Format SNDH

The Atari ST port uses the NES song and has been highly rearranged by Tim Follin. The initial drum line is lifted from the Bionic Commando Theme. It plays in the second stage. This song is track 3 in the SNDH file and plays on the YM2149F PSG.

Bionic Commando PAL (C64)

Platform - C64.png
Bionic Commando PAL (C64)
Output - SID.svg
Bionic Commando PAL - C64 - Stage 2.png
Arranger Tim Follin
Released 1988-??-??
Length 1:17
Format SID

There were two different ports of Bionic Commando made for the Commodore 64. The North American release was poorly constructed and only featured a single background track, but the European release had much better music. Although Heat Wave is not heard in the arcade game, Tim Follin must have liked the NES tune enough to remix it for the Commodore 64 port. He kept most of the original sound and added his own style to the track and even parts of Bionic Commando Theme can be heard in the opening. The song is played in stage 2. It is track 6 in the SID file.

Bionic Commando (ZXS)

Platform - ZXS.png
Bionic Commando (ZXS)
Output - AY.svg
Arranger Tim Follin
Released 1988-??-??
Length 1.12.73
Format AY

Heat Wave plays in the second stage in the ZX Spectrum port when played on a 128. Despite the lower quality of the AY-3-8912 audio chip, Tim Follin made a pretty decent arrangement of the song by borrowing parts of Bionic Commando Theme which can be heard in the opening. The song is track 2 in the AY file.

Bionic Commando (GB)

Platform - GB.png
Bionic Commando (GB)
Output - Game Boy.svg
Bionic Commando - GB - Area 3.png
Arranger Kouji Murata
Released 1992-07-24
Length 1:05
Format GBS

The Game Boy release was based on the NES game, and though it featured new levels and music, the song Heat Wave remains. The Game Boy's DMG-CPU B chip doesn't quite have the warm sound of the NES chip, but the majority of the tune remains the same, albeit with a different drum and bass backdrop. It's played in areas 3 and 14.

The song is track 5 in the GBS file.

Bionic Commando: Rearmed (W32)

Platform - W32.png
Bionic Commando: Rearmed (W32)
Arranger Simon Wiklund
Released 2008-08-13
Format UNK
Simon Wiklund remixed Heat Wave giving it a more techno sound for Bionic Commando: Rearmed.


Different versions of Heat Wave can be heard on the following albums:

Released Album Version Title Track
2008-05-27 Bionic Commando: Rearmed - The Soundtrack Bionic Commando: Rearmed Heat Wave 2
2008-06-23 Bionic Commando: The 8-bit Soundtrack NES Heat Wave 2
2009-07-28 Bionic Commando: The Soundtrack 7th Gen Remake  ? (Tune reused in a track)  ?