Bomb Jack (ボンジャック Bon Jakku) is an arcade platform game that was released in 1984 by Tehkan (known today as Tecmo). It was followed by two official sequels, the console and computer title Mighty Bomb Jack, and the arcade game Bomb Jack Twin and the licensed for computers only Bomb Jack II.
Plot and gameplay
The player controls Jack, a superhero who can leap and glide. Someone has planted 24 bombs at famous tourist sites (the Sphinx and Great Pyramids, the Acropolis, Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, and two cityscapes resembling Miami Beach and Hollywood, which appear only as screen backgrounds rather than unique game locations). Jack must fly around the screen to collect the bombs. Each screen uses a different configuration of platforms upon which Jack may run and jump. Eventually, the levels reoccur a number of times with increasing difficulty.
Jack "defuses" the bombs by simply touching them. As soon as he has touched the first, he triggers a sequence in which another bomb's fuse lights up, and so on. A player can score a bonus in each round by touching 20 or more bombs in the correct lit-fuse sequence. Jack may also defuse an unlit bomb by touching it, but this impedes his opportunity to score the bonus for that screen. It also delays the appearance of the game's bonuses and power-ups.
Bomb Bonuses are triggered when Jack touches the first of 24 onscreen bombs. It is possible to collect the remaining bombs in fuse order, the maximum being 23 (the top score possible on a level). Expert players would combine this with X5 'b's for the largest multiplier score available.
The lit fuses have no strategic purpose other than the bonus; a lit bomb left unattended does not explode, although the onscreen enemies become faster the longer Jack is flying around and they eventually start to follow him at speed. At this point, new enemies appear in the form of flying saucers, that 'lock on' to Jack and are difficult to avoid.
Enemies such as birds, mummies, turtles, and orbs float around the screen, making Jack lose a life if he touches them. Collecting bombs will increase the bonus meter at the top of the screen (collecting lit bombs increases it more). When the meter is completely filled up, a circular bouncing "P" appears, and when collected, it will turn all the enemies into bonus coins for a short period during which Jack may collect them. Other similar bonuses are the B (Bonus) which increases the score multiplier (up to 5x), the E (Extra) which gives an extra life, and the rare S (Special), which awards a free game.
The Twin Galaxies highest scores for Bomb Jack on the MAME (arcade) platform are 73,378,560 on marathon settings, and 4,888,740 on tournament settings (5 lives only), achieved by Paul Kearns of London. He has many videos and a walkthrough tutorial on his YouTube channel
Bomb Jack is a fast-moving
platform game in which the aim is to collect all of the bombs on each level
before progressing to the next. A variety of constantly spawning mechanical
enemies patrol the platforms and airspace so the longer a player takes to
collect all of the bombs, the more difficult progress becomes.
Bomb Jack was released in October 1984.
The original idea for Bomb Jack was conceived by Michitaka Tsuruta, lead designer for Guzzler and Solomon's Key, under the supervision of Kazutoshi Ueda, the genius behind Mr. Do, Lady Bug and other Universal coin-ops.
Curiously enough, the infamous Sphinx in the opening round was not rendered by the graphic designer of the game, but by Tsukasa Masuko, the sound designer. Tsuruta-san recalls how roles in Japanese development teams were quite interchangeable, in those early years.
Round 1 music is the ending song from the Japanese animated cartoon series 'Spoon Oba-san', sung by the ultra-popular Mari Ijima (Lynn Minmay's voice in Macross). The anime was aired in 1983... at that time, Bomb Jack development was just starting : something more than a coincidence, then.
Round 2 features the music of 'Lady Madonna', by The Beatles. Tsuruta-san, recalls that rights were paid for the licensed music at the time; still, later ports (PS2 and Xbox) come with a replaced soundtrack (mostly the Vs. Mighty Bomb Jack score).
"Bomb Jack II" has nothing really to do with Tekhan or Tecmo : it was developed by British Elite Systems for European home computers only, in an attempt to follow the huge success of the Bomb Jack coin-op conversion. They basically bought the license for the name, and then proceeded to create a mediocre maze game.
Giauco Bondavalli holds the official record for this game with 20,010,960 points on November 3, 1984.
Alfa Records released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Tecmo Game Music - 28XA-95) on 25/09/1986.
Jumping, hitting a wall or falling from
a platform : 10 points x bonus multiplier value.
Killing monsters while (P) is active :
100, 200, 300, 500, 800, 1,200 and 2,000 points. These are all
multiplied by the current bonus multiplier value.
Tips and Tricks
Bomb-Jack.com is a fan site
of the popular arcade game of BombJack.
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