Nathan Spencer was a member of the Federal States of America's military forces whose left arm was severed in the course of combat. During his rehabilitation, he became the first test subject for experiments into bionic prostheses conducted by T.A.S.C., the Tactical Arms and Security Council. His designation was "Research and Development #1," so he gained the nickname "RAD." There he received his trademark bionic arm, after which he was sent into active duty and given the rank of captain.
The antagonistic Imperial Army attacked and captured the T.A.S.C. operative Joseph "Super Joe" Gibson, who had infiltrated the Empire to stop the Albatross Project. Spencer was then sent in to save Super Joe and complete his mission. Nathan succeeded in stopping the project and saving Joe, along with killing a freshly resurrected Adolf Hitler. For his valiant efforts Joe is is promoted to director of T.A.S.C., and he and Nathan go on to train a new breed of bionic commandos.
These events took place in the original NES Bionic Commando and were the subject of two remakes, the Bionic Commando for Gameboy and later downloadable Bionic Commando Rearmed.
Bionic Commando Rearmed 2
This sequel focuses on Spencer leading a team of bionic soldiers, including Jayne Magdalene, into the Papgayan Islands to prevent General Sabio from attacking the FSA. It is during this period in Nathan Spencer's life that he adopts a mustache, altering his previously clean-shaven appearance as he commands his unit of super soldiers. The twists in the plot help set the stage for the Bionic Purge talked about in the 2009 title.
Released in February 2011, Rearmed 2 introduces the ability to jump for the first time in any of the side-scrolling Bionic Commando titles.
Bionic Commando (2009)
The second Bionic Commando game for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 takes place several years after the NES original. As bionic enhancements became more prevalent, hostility and jealousy grew among unenhanced humans who were becoming paranoid and scared by enhanced bionic soldiers. Riots broke out and a "bionic rebellion" began as a result of this paranoia. Amidst this tumult, Nathan Spencer was wrongfully accused of treason and sentenced to death. He was spared from this fate only by the detonation of a massive bomb that leveled Ascension City. The government releases Spencer from prison and fits him with a new bionic arm, allowing him a chance at a pardon (and help finding his wife, Emily, who had gone missing) in exchange for tracking down and stopping those responsible for this heinous act.
In this game, the origins of Spencer's bionic arm are revealed through medical reports found by hacking relay stations, along with Super Joe's own explanations. Gibson explains that he helped create bionic limbs for humans who had suffered the loss of limbs, but that the problem was that they always tried to "make robots like humans", but the trick was to in fact turn humans into robots.
Gibson oversaw secret, illegal experiments where kidnapped humans were reduced to raw genetic material, the organic tissue embedded into the mechanical segments of the Bionic limbs, allowing a true link to the subject's mind for the first time, and perfect control of the limb by the human brain.
This is what happened to Spencer's wife. She had been used by Super Joe as the construction catalyst for Nathan's new bionic arm. For a Bionic Limb to function properly there needed to be a strong physical and emotional bound between the two subjects, as the machine/bionic is a "living" entity that fuses with the host. This also explains why the bionic soldiers in Rearmed 2 who took on others' bionic limbs went insane. Jayne "Mag" Magdelane's bionic legs were derived from a person named "Jamie Madgelane," possibly her husband.
Naturally, Spencer wasn't thrilled that his oldest friend had betrayed him so thoroughly and murdered his wife to further his goals. He promptly struck down Super Joe as well as the terrorists who destroyed Ascension City before Joe could finish carrying out his plans for Project Vulture.
- Nathan is an a unlockable character in Capcom's Dead Rising: Chop Til' You Drop for the Nintendo Wii.
- Spencer is featured in both Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 as a playable fighter, with downloadable content for the latter adding his Rearmed attire.