What sort of being is Bomb Jack? He doesn't so much fly as leap around. And he's no more than knee high to a grasshopper. Come to think of it, a grasshopper's what he most resembles. So what sort of hero is this bounding, bomb collecting midget? The answer is an arcade hero - and now he's let loose in your micro courtesy of conversion kings, Elite.
Let's just say that Bomb Jack probably shouldn't be as addictive as it is. After all, arcade games are designed not to last too long because they're always greedy for the next meal of ten pences. But then again, they're also designed to make you want to play again.... and again and again and again. And that's where Bomb Jack scores, because each time you lose your final life you're convinced that next time you can clear that screen.
Here's how it works. Your caped crusader bounces all over a world provided with convenient platforms. You launch him into the air with a quick press on the fire button, trying to pass over bombs as you fly. Clear a screen of explosives and on to the next, more difficult location. The forces of evil are out to stop you though, from the first flapping bird to the little soldiers who eventually reach the ground to metamorphose into something much nastier.
All of which neglects to mention the scoring. There's a fine bit of strategy involved in maxamising your points - and if ever there was a high score freak's dream, this is it! The first thing to know is that a bomb that's fizzing is worth 200 rather than 100 points. Collect one of those and it sets off the next one in the sequence, so a row of four can be worth 400 or 800 points depending on whether it's ignited or not. It's up to you to plan a route. There are special bonuses for collecting 20 or more sparking bombs and there are also Bonus coins that float in for you to snatch, plus Extra lives coins and Power balls. These paralyse the nasties for a while letting you eliminate them - very useful when air space becomes too full to fly with comfort!
Bomb Jack, it must be said, isn't the easiest little critter to control. Getting him up is simple, but then you'll need your wits about you to steer him as he speeds around. Left and right swerve his flight while an extra boost of height comes from pressing up and a speedier descent is aided by down. If you need an immediate halt while in the air just hit the fire button again, and rapidly tapping it will make him hover, You'll need lots of practice to get your pilot's certificate though - and a joystick won't do any harm either! While Elite has considerately included a turbo mode for the keyboard player - it simulates a constantly-pressed fire button - a stick makes life much easier.
There you have it, then - a simple idea that's one hundred per cent addictive. The graphics are great with an amusingly animated sprite for your heroic mite, even though the monochrome figures are sometimes a little hard to see against the coloured backgrounds. Amplify the sound to get the most from the spot effects and you too will soon be battling to get your name in the high score table. Bomb Jack is most certainly a blast!
If you haven't got this already then you're in for a birrova treat. It's a coin-op conversion (and it shows) of a platform/collect objects/avoid contact with the nasties game.
You control a small mouse who's wearing a sot of Superman costume. The first screen pops up revealing several small platforms and numerous circular bombs. The idea is to leap around the screen collecting these bombs (by contact) as you go. One of the on-screen bombs is always alight (its fuse sort of glows), and is worth more points than the others. You don't have to get it first, but if you do then another bomb lights up. And so on.
Things aren't as easy as that, though, cos there are numerous nasties who's sole aim is to help you pop your clogs. Any contact is fatal. They often get in the way of the key bombs you need in order to clear the screen, and while you're waiting for them to get out of the way you'll find yourself becoming surrounded by others. Yikes! Leap about a bit.
Fortunately a saviour is at hand in the shape of icons that float down out of the sky every so often. There are several types, but the most useful has got to be the one that puts your adversaries to sleep (for a limited time) enabling you to get at the more inaccessible bombs.
Clear a screen and it's onto the next. Newly positioned platforms and bombs all set on a brilliant backdrop. Oh, I forgot to tell you about the backdrops. They're, eerrrmm, brilliant.
The speed at which the game plays is brillo too, as is the animation. This really is a game that'll have you coming back for more (and more and more and more). Classic stuff.
Re-release/Original score 9
Classic coin-op conversion from Elite. Better than all other computer versions of Bomb Jack you'll EVER play. Now there's a statement. First released: May '86.
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