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 retains its playability. Now we have an Amiga version too, and it's not bad at all. Jack is yet 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 along 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 that 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 that 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 about to beat the high score. The game is fun from beginning to end, although it almost borders on Thundercats-style frustratability.
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