#69 Bomb Jack

Posted: 27th February 2018 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

674th played so far

Genre: Platform
Platform: Arcade
Year of Release: 1984
Developer: Tehkan
Publisher: Tehkan

Here’s a simple one – again one of the oldest games on the list. The screenshots look a bit like Pang, but clearly you’re moving around what feels like a superhero rip off – Astro Boy with a Bat Man mask or something. But there’s bombs involved – loads of bombs – so we’ll see what happens.

Our Thoughts

There really is a big difference between how platformers look in the arcade and how they look at home at this point – compare this to Bounty Bob Strikes Back, released in the same year, for a big change in graphics. It is also, however, a single screen game without any scrolling, which means it’s some distance away in gameplay from Super Mario Bros, which doesn’t look quite as good but feels bigger.

So the game looks nice for its day, colourful with some pretty backgrounds for the five different levels. You collect all the bombs on a screen before you move on to the next one, getting a bit of a power boost as you collect some of them. There are several enemies around that you can’t touch, where the game becomes mostly about avoiding them.

What makes the game feel unique is that your controls are different from normal. While you can’t quite fly (never mind the cape) you have a very high jump and can descend quite slowly, giving you a lot of vertical control that really changes how you approach the game. You want to be up a lot and steer your way around, meaning you go up and down a lot more collecting bombs than you normally do. At the same time, when you hit enough bombs and your enemies turn into coins, getting to them before the timer runs out is more difficult, in part because the horizontal control gets trickier with the vertical levels. For the same reason, platforms are as much of a hindrance as they can help – they stop you going up, while often keeping enemies on top meaning you want to stay out of the way there.

Final Thoughts

Bomb Jack is a charming game that does its things quite well – a clearly defined goal with decent mechanic that feel like they shake up the platform standards enough to stand out. It follows the tropes of its days – collecting rather than advancing – but it makes it feel fun and exciting to do so.