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'KnifeHand' game really keeps you on your toes

May. 26, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Master Lance Cpl. Wagner avoids NJPs and Jody in KnifeHand, a video game for smartphones created by veteran Marine Sgt. Brad Bitler.
Master Lance Cpl. Wagner avoids NJPs and Jody in KnifeHand, a video game for smartphones created by veteran Marine Sgt. Brad Bitler. (Courtesy of Brad Bitler)
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Bitler (Courtesy of Brad Bitler)

Bored Marines can knife hand their way through a new video game available on smartphones, but they’ll have to look out for several pesky distractions meant to slow their progress, including nonjudicial punishments and the infamous “Jody” — that smooth-talking guy back home who gets too close to a deployed Marine’s girlfriend.

“KnifeHand” is a new video game created by veteran Sgt. Brad Bitler, who served with Combat Logistics Battalion 1 at Camp Pendleton, California. It’s his first attempt at creating a video game, which launched May 10. It’s only available in iTunes now, but he said he’s working on a version for Android devices.

Bitler left the Marine Corps in 2007, about a year after deploying to Iraq. He now sells real estate, but said he misses the camaraderie of the Marine Corps every day.

Getting back in touch with his Marine Corps roots, Bitler created Master Lance Cpl. Wagner, the main character in his video game. Dressed in some of the most iconic garb in the Marine Corps, the character sports a drill instructor’s campaign cover, a safety glow-belt over a shirtless chest, a pair of short green silkies and boots.

“I just picture the lance corporal on duty or duty [noncommissioned officer] at the barracks using this to pass the time and laugh,” Bitler said. “Marines live very real lives with serious consequences and implications. I hope that by making this, I have helped to lift the spirits of my Marines out there.”

Players help the character collect gold deployment coins while jumping from roof to roof in a Middle Eastern village. They have to try to dodge the NJPs that light a fire under the character’s butt — too many can lead to a bad-conduct end of the game. They can also slip on the muck around a tipped over porta potty that serves as a forward operating base toilet or after running into the well-dressed Jody standing in their way.

“I created Jody’s look to be classic; that’s what I picture,” Bitler said. “I’d be on a convoy in Iraq when I picture some greasy Jody — the guy with a big smile with your girl back home. Every Marine has had his run-in with Jody.”

As for the knife hands, Bitler said he chose them because they’re part of every Marine’s life since the minute they step on the yellow footprints at boot camp. He has been knife-handed and has done the knife-handing, he said, even in his post-Corps life while attending the University of California, Berkeley.

“One professor argued that the wars of today are fought completely virtually,” he said. “I haven’t knife-handed someone that quick since one of my lance corporals bought a Ford Mustang out in Oceanside.”

Bitler is already working on a new game for Marines, “KnifeHands 2,” that will be a multilevel game with more depth.

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