Oh, what a bomber!

Boston Bomb Club logo

PALACE * £25.99 * 1/2 meg * Mouse * Out November

A gentleman's club of late 19th century Boston is the setting for this derivative but enjoyable puzzle game, that claims to be the first to have a sense of humour. It is the kind of gentleman's club that is decorated in a very austere style, apart from the numerous good-time gals who wander around in basques and suspenders like the ones in Twin Peaks' One Eyed Jack's.

The Bomb Club's favourite pastime, apart from paying large amounts of cash to these basque-clad women, is lighting the fuse to one of those round bombs that Peter Sellers so loved, and guiding it around a course laid out on a table so that it reaches the safety of bucket of water before it explodes.

The tabletop is constructed from various pieces, each one a "square" big. These pieces can be manipulated so that a path for the bomb is constructed across the table. Typically, not all of the available spaces on the table will be used and nor will all of the pieces be flexible.

The general pieces you will come across are as follows: the static ones which cannot be adjusted in any way, shape or form; the junctions which make use of a movable gate which allows you to guide the bomb to where you want it to go by placing the barrier on one of the four edges of the "square"; the rotatable L-bend; the collapse bridge which can only be used once; the trampoline which will launch the bomb a set number of squares dictated by the number upon it; and the "fixed" gate.

The fixed gate can give you real problems. You have no direct control over which of the four positions it is set in. The only way it can be changed is by guiding the bomb through it - this hits the switch which flicks the gate onto the next position clockwise from it.

The combination of the pieces and hazards, and the correct manipulation thereof, make for as real challenge as you try and stay ahead of the constantly moving bomb.

It all ends up being a bit like Pipe Mania, the frantic nature of the gameplay is there but not to the same hairgreying extent, and the addiction is there, but it won't cause the same sleepless nights.

The more advanced levels can cause some pretty serious nightmares, but the game often provides opportunities to hang around, by parking a bomb between two closed gates, giving you the chance to think carefully about the problem as opposed to forcing you to make off the cuff decisions - one of the factors that made Pipe Mania such a nightmare.

To add to the troubles, each bomb represents a life and to complete a level all you have to do is get all your remaining bombs through the course. This means that you will be able to whistle through abot five levels in quick succession if you are down to one life, because getting one bomb through is no problem on most levels. The better system would have given you a fixed number of bombs to get through the level - then if you failed you would lose a life and have to try again.

The small number of levels, 30, means that the price is a little high for a game that can be completed in a cack-handed way, one bomb through 25 levels, very easily. On the good side though, the levels that are there are really good fun, and sometimes take a few attempts to work out.

While you do try to work them out it is great fun, and sometimes very frustrating as the spectators at the side reach across and interfere with your hard work, a clever feature that hasn't been seen before.

In all though it is a little too simple - great fun for a while, but not good enough to warrant a place in software history.

Boston Bomb Club logo

Good evening and welcome to the BBC. Of course this isn't the BBC but The BBC, The Boston Bomb Club. These boys were doing the rounds in the late 19th century, way before Logi Baird invented the crystal bucket. An off-the-wall puzzle test, it's about a bunch of mad, but competitive, scientists. They created a game so fiendish, so dangerous, so silly, that a society conspired to keep its very existence a secret. Now their story can be told.

The aim is to move a bomb across a pool table into a bucket of water. The bombs come in Buster Keaton flavour: black balls with string fuses, which are of course alight - adding urgency to the affair. The pool table is covered with widgets and other Heath Robinson contraptions, that can be manipulated to guide the rolling lump towards the safety of the bucket.

BBC is largely intuitive, the table top is full of grooved wooden channels, so the bomb's progress can be easily predicted. At certain junctions sit switches which can be used to deflect the bomb along another route. These aren't the only tricks in this explosive little puzzle number, scattered across the table top are trampolines , disappearing floors, random gates and many stranger devices. All of these are controlled with the mouse, one click toggling them on or off.

If life wasn't hard enough already, other members of the Club try sabotaging your attempts. Some of which is an innocent oversight: letting a newspaper cover the playing area. Some, however, are premeditated: you see arms reaching out and flicking the switches that you've just aligned. It isn't hard to progress through the levels as only one bomb per table is needed to progress.

Scoring is important - it is a puzzle game after all - and to get a points explosion you'll need to defuse every bomb and grab any bonus. Getting both are difficult, often a route towards the bucket has to be totally reworked once one bomb has fallen, while the bonuses are always placed in inaccessible corners of the game.

The BBC puts its TV counterpart to shame, oozing gloss and graphic humour. The screens are finely drawn, creating the right tone for this Victorian, scientific send up. Terry Thomas-like rotters lean over the table to stop you winning, crazed jazz musicians pop on screen for no apparent reason and buxom barmaids sit doing what buxom barmaids do best.

Many of these graphics are peripheral and add humour. Some exceed this decorative role and reinforce the gameplay. The most obvious are the paper readers, whose broadsheets hide the edges of the board. The route to the bucket will always pass under them and the tiles below are only revealed when they turns pages, so you're forced to keep one eye on them whilst juggling live bombs in other parts of the maze. It's a vicious and inspired addition.

There isn't a great difference between this and puzzles like Logical, but it does feature distinct improvements. First the introduction of a graphic theme is a plus, giving the game instant appeal. The setting also allows sight gags to muscle in on the act, lightening the atmosphere. The innovation comes in graphic form too, with touches like the saboteurs. The resulting package is a polished puzzle.

Boston Bomb Club logo

Im München steht zwar ein Hofbrauhaus, aber was ist das schon gegen den Club der Bostoner Bomber? Bierdimpel gibt es schließlich auch anderswo, sprungsüchtige Wissenschaftler hingegen nur im neuen Knobelspielchen von Palace. Hoffen wir wenigstens...

Treten wir dem schrägen Verein also bei und sehen nach, was Sache ist. Kleine Bombchen müssen durch insgesamt 30 Labyrinthe gescheucht werden, tunlichst ehe sie explodieren. Das machen sie aber oft und gerne, nämlich immer dann, wenn entweder die Lunte abgebrannt ist oder zwei umher kullernde Sprengladungen zusammenstoßen. Zwei? Warum nicht, nach und nach kullern nämlich immer wider der frische Bomben in den Irrgarten.

Um in den nächsten Level aufzusteigen, genügt es zwar, eine einzige zum Zielpunkt zu dirigieren, wo sie dann per Wasserguß gelöscht werden, aber je mehr wohlbehalten ankommen, desto mehr Punkte gibt es. Unersättliche können darüber hinaus der Konto mit dem Aufsammeln von Bonuspunkte mästen, dafür muß man allerdings öfters einen Umweg in Kauf nehmen.

Nun wäre das ja alles kein Problem wenn sich die scharfe Ladung direkt steuern ließe, sie rollt jedoch unbeirrbar auf vorgegeben Wegen entlang , nur Sperren, Drehscheiben und andere Tools können sie in neue Bahnen lenken. Abgründe, morsche Brücken und Sprungfelder erschweren bzw. erleichtern die Geschichte, zudem verdreht ein zuschauender Reserve Einstein gerne mal eigenmächtig die Wege.

Unsereiner macht das per Mausklick. Stick und Keyboard sind weniger empfehlenswert.

Das Spielprinzip ist war nicht umwerfend originell aber nett, die Grafik witzig und der Sound flott - wer gerne Haare rauft, kann das also ruhig in Boston Bomb Club machen. (jn)

Boston Bomb Club logo

A puzzler which promises to put Amiga games back by a century!

We've seen some fairly crappy little puzzle games masquerading as full price products from the French recently - Quadrel and Swap spring to mind amongst others - so it's nice to see one arrive that's actually rather good. For a start, Boston Bomb Club has that inventive, fun presentation that made games like North And South or Shufflepuck Cafe so much fun.

Even more important than that though, the actual game itself is quite inventive and fun (if a little bit weird, as is the French way) instead of being simply crap - there's none of that dull matching-colours-to-make-them-disappear rubbish that has made many recent puzzlers so very so-what?-ish.

The situation is this - we're in Boston at the end of the last century, where a bunch of Victorian scientist chums in some sort of men's social club are experimenting with a giant Babbage-style contraption based around a pool table.

They've built a sort of maze-like assault course packed with trampolines, channels cog-wheels and moveable gates - making it look like nothing so much as a rather posh version of MB Games' Mousetrap - into which they roll traditional style bombs. Your job is to manipulate the gates and so on in order to direct each bomb to the far side of the table and the safety of a bucket of water before they a) explode or b) two bombs collide with each other.

Each successive (and increasingly complicated) version of the puzzle is seen from above, while the player - using a mouse-controlled cursor - tries to keep one step ahead of the bombs, planning a route that'll send each one in the direction you want it to go.

In many ways, then, this game isn't dissimilar to Rainbow Arts' recent Logical - except in that it's much more loveable. The wood-and-brass look of the graphics is more pleasing than the Bitmap-style metallica of the German game, the puzzles are often more inventive (and certainly less clinical) while the humour and character of the game shines through consistently.

Mischievous scientists lean over the edge of the table and switch gates around to annoy you, bored passers-by start reading giant broadsheet newspapers over the table (thus blocking some of the play area from view), babies(!) crawl across the contraption, stealing your bombs and generally there's plenty going on around you to keep the interest level high.

With only 30 screens (though the later ones are very hard) it perhaps won't be the longest lasting game ever, but you're bound to have bags of fun with it in the short term, that's for sure.

Disposing of the eager-to-explode bombs isn't as easy as it looks. The beggars are pretty tricky to handle...
Boston Bomb Club: User Interface explanation
  1. Some of the many moving gateways - click on them to set the course and so direct the bombs in the direction you want them to go.
  2. Much manipulating of these turntable things needed to create a channel to send the bombs where you want them to go.
  3. One of the mischievous mad Victorian scientists - he'll lean over the play area, changing gates round to annoy you.
  4. Much more plesant is this mechanical hand - it places extra point bonuses randomly about the place.
  5. Your cursor arrow - click on gates or turntables to move them around.
  6. Trampolines bounce you across (and sometimes off!) the pool-table sized play area.
  7. Not an air-born - this contraption is actually where your bombs kick off from!

Boston Bomb Club logo

If puzzle games usually prove a little too abstract for you with their succession of geometric shapes and monotone screens, then Boston Bomb Club might be what you're looking for - but only if you're still prepared to deal with a fiendish and addictive teaser..

Imagine a game which provides all the frustration of, and even gives itself a passing resemblance to, Pipe Mania but manages to give it a little extra in the sense of scene-setting and frills. Okay, so you don't need a nice plot and some fancy graphic designs in a puzzle game, but why turn them down if they're there?

Boston Bomb Club is the name of a society of Victorian scientists who amuse themselves by constructing giant working puzzles the size of billiard tables from wooden tiles, trampolines, guttering, cogs, chains and clockwork wheels. Think of them as a kind of nineteenth century intellectual version of Harry Enfield's old gits.

There are thirty levels and you can access them at various points by clicking on the batty geriatrics sitting around a bar-room table (shades of Shufflepuck Cafe here). You'd be wise to start at the lowest grade though because the tortuous mazes rigged in later levels are just mind-bogglingly hard.

The table is divided into a series of grooved titles, many of which can be swiveled and blocked off (and this is simplifying matters greatly) in order to channel a bomb rolled onto to them into a bucket of water before it ignites.

Naturally, there is more to it than that. Often the tiles disappear after the bomb has rolled across them, and there are large voids in the table for it to fall of. If that's not enough, the old gits lean across the table reading newspapers obscuring crucial areas or sometimes stretch across and twist a tile you've already set and taken your eyes off.

Add to that a time limit and the likelihood of another bomb appearing within seconds of the first one and you have your hands full playing Boston Bomb Club.

On later levels, the puzzles become more confusing and bizarre: babies crawl across the table and rearrange everything, toilets swallow the bombs and flush them out at the opposite sides.

This all makes for a fiendishly difficult, but thoroughly enjoyable piece of brainteasing. Boston Bomb Club is witty and ingenious - not least for managing to conceal what is a pretty familiar piece of arcade puzzling.