Bomb Jack logo

COIN-OP conversions are still being churned out and here's another. Bomb jack is looking a little long in the tooth now, having been around for the 8 bit machines for some time, and its age clearly shows. This conversion, while competent and fun to play, does nothing to make use of the Amiga's potential, yet costs a whole lot more than those for far less powerful machines.

The game consists of six differently backdropped screens whose prime constituents are platforms, bombs and aliens. The bright-red, fused bombs are liberally strewn and must be defused before progress can be made to the next screen. Bomb Jack, the hero of the game, is a diminutive caped crusader, not a little unlike the Mighty Mouse of cartoon fame. His task is to fly around and make contact with each bomb, thereby defusing it. The platforms are there both to help and hinder him in his duties. The aliens flit around trying to make contact with Bomb Jack - one touch and he loses one of his three lives. Each of the six backdrops, which are quite attractive even if they do serve little purpose other than ornamentation, represents a country. For instance, there's the pyramids and Sphinx in one, the Acropolis in another and what I take to be a French chateau in yet another. Once you've completed the six screens, they recycle with a new platform layout.

Bomb Jack tends to float rather than fly - when he's on solid ground, the fire button launches him upwards. He continues to float skywards until he runs out of steam (or bumps his head on a platform) and he descends slowly earthwards. While he is floating he can be guided to the left and right. When Bomb Jack touches an Alien, he does nothing more exciting than spin a couple of times to show that he has lost a life. Animation of the aliens is similarly basic. These beings, some of which look more like unbaked gingerbread men than creatures from outer space, move gently about the screen trying to hamper Bomb Jack's mission. After the loss of a life, Bomb Jack is replaced on the starting position of that screen but, thankfully, any bombs already defused do not reappear. Other objects pop up from time to time and must be touched for bonus points, and extra lives.

The game can be played by one or two players with one or two joysticks. There is also an option to turn off the music. I suggest you use it.

On the plus side, Bomb Jack is simple to play, slightly addictive and the backdrops are pleasing to look at. On the minus side, the game lacks depth and variety and is far too expensive for the limited entertainment it offers. If it were less than a tenner then I'd say go get it - but at its current price, Bomb jack is definitely not good value for money.

Bomb Jack logo

Price: £24.95

Out of all the 8-bit titles to be caught up in Elite's Amiga conversion frenzy (currently in full swing), Bombjack has to be the oldest. It was released simply aaages ago, and the original coin-op is practically a fossil. Nevertheless, it still remains its playability. Now we have an Amiga version too, and it's not bad at all. Jack is yer average bomb diffusion expert caught up in a strange parallel universe inhabited by a rather motley band of metallic nasties who don't take kindly to his presence. Donning his mask, cape and boots, Jack decides to deactivate all the bombs that litter each screen.

Each screen is set against a picturesque-backdrop (Level one is a Sphinx, level two a Greek monument and so on) and each has five or so short platforms in different positions. Jack can run left and right across these platforms, and by hitting the fire button he can leap into the air and up the screen. There are about 20 bombs to a level, and Jack can collect these simply by colliding with them. If you're a smartarse bonus freak you can collect them in the correct order. You do this by collecting the one with the burning fuse, another will start burning, which you should go for next and so on.

The only thing that stands between you and lots of juicy points are the nasties on each screen. All of them seem to be made of metal (they're coloured silver and grey mainly) and are all rather strange looking. There are spacemen, birds, whirling balls, spaceships and so on. What they look like isn't really important though, as all are equally lethal should you touch them. Nasties tend to appear at the top of the screen and slowly make their way to the bottom, where they mutate into a different creature. As there can often be around eight or nine marauding mateys on screen at any time, things can get pretty hectic.

As luck would have it, every now and then a power-up capsule appears for your use. A 'B' capsule will bump your score up for every bomb you defuse, while a 'P' has the effect of turning all enemies on the screen into little coins, which can give you a breather and boost your score if you collect them. An 'E' is well worth an extra life.

The problem with BombJack is that the graphics and sound are nowhere near the quality they should have been. The Amiga is quite capable of producing graphics as good as an ancient arcade machine, so why doesn't it? The sprites are too small and not detailed enough, while the backdrops are too simplistic to have any real impact. The sound is not much better, comprising an irritating high-pitched tune and dreary effects. Why then, you ask, did I say it wasn't bad? Well it's the gameplay that saves BombJack from obscurity. The feel of the coin-op is there, as is the frustration when you accidentally plough into an enemy and lose your last life just as you were to beat the high score. The game is fun from beginning to end, although it almost borders on Thundercats-style frustratability.

Bomb Jack logo

Elite, £24.99 disk

This is a game featuring a superhero. Ha! You expected me to tell the underpants joke didn't you? Well, I'm not going to tell the underpants joke so there, NYAH! The superhero in question is Bomb Jack, star of arcade screens throughout the land as he, risking life and limb to save the planet from... (blah, blah, blah).

Now, some nasty character from somewhere ville in somewhere else land (okay, I don't know where exactly, but it's got to be somewhere so let's leave it at that) has taken a severe dislike to many of the world's most popular tourist spots - namely the Great Pyramids, The Parthenon, Disneyland, Miami Beach and Hollywood - and has planted a number of bombs designed to blow them to bits.

In case anyone decides to try and thwart his plans, he leaves an army of robot warriors at each scene to guard the bombs. You take the part of the daring superhero in his race to defuse the bombs before they detonate, by leaping across platforms picking up the explosives as you go.

So off to save the world you trot. In fact you're in such a hurry, you manage to put your underpants over your tights. (Oh no! I said it! Aaaaargh!)

Zzap's Rockford: Too late!

Gordon Houghton Well, er... This isn't really what honest(?) reviewers like us are looking for at £24.99, is it? I mean, the 64 version wasn't up to much and, despite arcade-accurate graphics (aaah, I remember the arcade), this isn't either. For a start, it's too easy - a lot easier than its coin-op counterpart - and to make things worse, it's far too expensive. Then the sound is pretty terrible - I'd rather be kept awake all night listening to the Bee Gees - and the presentation is virtually non-existent; get the impression that there's not much to recommend it? In fact, wouldn't this kind of basic platform game - licence or not - be better around £10-15? I'd only urge ardent fans of the original to try it. On second thoughts, no I wouldn't.
Maff Evans Bomb Jack was one of my most favourite arcade games a few years ago and I was incredibly disappointed by the 64 conversion. When I heard about an Amiga conversion, I thought that at last I would see a decent home version of the game, but, lo and behold, it's not much better than its predecessor! The arena seems bigger, which improves the gameplay a bit (a very little bit), but the robots act so stupidly that it's far too easy to complete the first set of levels. The opening music gives you a general idea of what to expect, in fact I'd go so far as to say it's the worst I've heard on the Amiga. The graphics aren't much better either: the backdrops are OK, but the effect is ruined by the emaciated sprites and piddly platforms. Bomb Jack is a seriously sub-standard conversion and I expect much much more from the Amiga.