Bomb Jack
Nintendo Gameboy
Released in 1984, Bomb Jack instantly found favour with arcade-goers the world over and was subsequently converted to just about every home machine around at the time with varying degrees of success (the Commodore 64 version being possibly the worst, with it's Fat Jack sprites). Eight years later, Infogrames release a conversion for Nintendo's handheld wonder. So is it any good?

Taking control of our caped hero, the objective of the game is to simply clear each level of bombs by collecting (or diffusing) them. As you would expect, a gang of meanies are in attendance and do their best to make life difficult for Jack by following him around the screen. Touching one of these loses Jack one of his lives. Being a superhero of sorts, although Jack isn't able to fly, he does have some aerobatic skills. The first of these is his ability to jump huge heights. Jack has two types of jump - a normal jump which allows him to cover the distance of approximately three quarters of the screen height, and a super-jump allowing him to jump the entire sreen height. The second trick up Jack's sleeve is his ability to glide in mid-air. This is accomplished by repeatedly tapping the JUMP button and allows for greater manoeuvrability when dodging the enemy and collecting those all-important bombs.

One thing you'll notice when playing is that there is always one bomb that has a lit fuse. Collecting the lit bomb causes another's fuse to ignite. If you manage to collect twenty or more lit bombs during a level, a special bonus is awarded. More bonuses are up for grabs in the form of tokens which occasionally appear during play. These come in three varieties - the first turns enemies into collectable coins for a short period, the second type awards Jack an extra life and the third gives bonus points. Each level has a different platform layout and is set against a background of one of five international locations.

How to piss off your kids, Lesson 1: call them 'Bomb'

Collect the 'B' token for bonus points

Despite suffering slightly from Fat Jack Syndrome (i.e - the sprites are slightly larger than they should be - a necessary evil on the Gameboy's small screen), Bomb Jack remains a surprisingly faithful and, more to the point, playable conversion of one of the best coin-ops ever devised. The game does play in a slightly different way to it's original incarnation and flitting between enemies and platforms isn't as easily accomplished as it should be. Surprisingly, this doesn't detract from the game as much as I expected it to. There are also less enemies to deal with, but this is probably a blessing given the aforementioned lardy sprites. Graphically, everything is as it should be - well, apart from being a sickly pea-green colour that is, but there's not much that can be done about that. Sound effects and spot music are of excellent quality, and Infogrames' decision to have the in-game music turned off by default was definitely a good one, as it is quite annoying. Overall, not the closest conversion available (the brilliant Spectrum conversion by Elite takes that title in my opinion) but definitely one of the most playable. Bomb Jack fans would be silly to miss it, and non-fans should definitely give it a whirl.

Graphics: 84%

Sound: 71%

Gameplay: 83%

Overall: 86%
The backgrounds have been nicely recreated in monochrome as have the slightly overweight sprites. Great spot music, good effects but annoying in-game music. Luckily it's turned off by default but can be activated if you really fancy annoying the person sitting next to you. Not a perfect conversion in terms of the game's mechanics, but still playable in a slightly different way. This version is also easier than it's arcade parent but this simply means you'll be playing for longer :) Great fun to play, and probably as close to the original as possible on the Gameboy.
R E C O M M E N D E D   A L T E R N A T I V E S
Alfred Chicken

O T H E R   F O R M A T S
Bomb Jack (Arcade/ZX Spectrum) • Bomb Jack Twin (Arcade) • Bomb Jack II (Commodore 64)

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