Video games do not have to be complex to be enjoyable and challenging. If they did, early video games such as Space Invaders (1978) and Asteroid (1979) would never have gained popularity. I feel it is important for modern gamers to go back and play early retro games to help them appreciate just how far video games have developed in such a short space of time.
Bomb Jack is a platform game developed and published by Tehkan. It was released in the arcade in 1984, and later ported to SG100 (1985), Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Commodore 16 (1986), Atari ST and Amiga (1988), Game Boy (1992), Java ME (2003) and Atari XL (2008). For this review, I chose to play the ZX Spectrum version.
You play as Bomb Jack. The object of the game is to collect bombs that have been laid on each level, all the while dodging an array of monsters. Collecting the bombs also increases your score. If you collect the special power block with a ‘P’ on it, the enemies will temporarily turn into octagonal blocks with smiley faces on them. Collect these to rid yourself of these enemies and to gain extra points. Other power blocks include:
‘B’ – increases score multiplier by 5x
‘E’ – extra life
‘S’ – awards a free game (I think this was only present in the arcade version).
There are five different screens. Once you have completed the five screens, you simply go around again and again until all your lives are lost. You must try to gain the highest score possible to reach the top of the scoreboard.
How Does It Handle?
The sprite is easy to control and the controls are tight. You simply move left or right and jump. To make things a little easier, Bomb Jack can float after jumping, reducing his falling speed.
The backgrounds to the levels are gorgeous! Although the sprites, power-ups and enemies are plain black, it is all you need for this sort of game. There is no need for over the top sprite design or animation.
The game is challenging and strangely addictive, and although the replay value is limited, it’s the sort of game that nowdays keeps people glued to their smart phones on public transport.
Did I Complete This Game?
I don’t think this is the sort of game you complete. You simply keep going, trying to get the highest score possible.
What The Critics Said:
Crash: “A great arcade conversion, don’t miss it! Overall 92%”.
“A simple but somewhat addictive game. Tight controls, easy to learn and fun to play. Beautiful backgrounds too, especially for a ZX Spectrum!”
What are your memories of Bomb Jack? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.
 ‘Reviews – Bomb Jack’. Crash. (April 1986). Issue 27:20-1.