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 : History of BombJack

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.

Extra point bonuses are awarded for collecting bombs with their fuses lit. Only one bomb at any time has a lit fuse, and collecting twenty or more of these lit bombs on any given level will earn the player points bonus (see TIPS AND TRICKS for details). Jack is pursued around each level by the spawning enemies and when he gets killed, he drops down to the nearest platform, always landing on his head.

A 'Powerball' appears at semi-regular intervals and moves diagonally around the screen. If the player manages to grab this, all of the level's monsters are frozen for several seconds and can then be killed by having Jack fly into them (similar to the 'Powerpill' feature in "Pac-Man"). Collecting the Bonus 'B' symbols will increase the amount of points awarded for collecting bombs with their fuses lit. Picking up an 'Extra' symbol awards the player with an additional life, while catching the 'Special' symbol will give the player an extra credit.

Each of Bomb Jack's levels feature one of five different background pictures, some of which represent famous historical landmarks. They are: the Sphinx in Egypt, the Acropolis in Greece, Castle Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, skyscrapers and a cityscape by night. While the backgrounds themselves are repeated as the game progresses, the platform layouts for each level are completely different. At least until level 18, after which the levels are repeated.

The basic play mechanic of collecting objects to clear a level, as well as the powerball feature, is hugely reminiscent of Namco's seminal "Pac-Man".


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.
Normal bomb : 100 points x bonus multiplier value.
Firebomb : 200 points x bonus multiplier value.

  • (P) Power : 100 when blue, 200 when red, 300 when purple, 500 when green, 800 when cyan, 1,200 when yellow and 2,000 points when grey x bonus multiplier value.
  • (B) Bonus Multiplier: 1,000 points x bonus multiplier value.
  • (E) Extra Life : 1,000 points x bonus multiplier value plus an extra life.
  • (S) Special : 1,000 points x bonus multiplier value plus a free credit.

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.

End of level bonus :
23 firebombs defused : 50,000 points.
22 firebombs : 30,000 points.
21 firebombs : 20,000 points.
20 firebombs : 10,000 points.

Tips and Tricks

  • A little information about the appearance of the powerball : the rule is very simple and you just have to look at the colour at the left and right of the multiplicator number, its size grows as you collect bombs.

    1) Take a 'lit bomb' and you get 1 point ahead for the next Powerball. Take a non-lit bomb and you'll get 0.5 point for the next Powerball. When you achieve 10 points, the powerball appears. Your powerball points don't grow if either the powerball is there or if the 'power music' is playing, so avoid collecting bombs when it's not necessary.

    2) The powerball can have different score values when taking it. When it appears, jump or hit a wall and its colour will change. The colours and score values are blue (100 points), red (200 points), purple (300 points), green (500 points), turquoize (800 points), yellow (1000 points) and grey (2000 points).

    3) The 'B' bonus coin adds 1 to the multiplicator value and appears each 5,000 points, but only if you 'pass' these 5,000 points when not taking a 'B' coin. For example, your multiplicator is 2x, your score is 9,000 and you take a 'B' coin; giving you 1,000x2 = 2,000 points which makes a total of 11,000 points. A 'B' coin should then appear because you have passed the 10,000 points, but doesn't because you took a 'B' coin to achieve this score so you'll have to wait for 15,000 points to get a new 'B' coin. The multiplicator limit is X5.

  • An important piece of information to remember is that you can pick up the bombs in a certain order to earn maximum points. If you pick up most of the bombs while their fuses are lit, you get the following bonuses :
    20 - 10,000 pts.
    21 - 20,000 pts.
    22 - 30,000 pts.
    23 - 50,000 pts.
    So of course, you'll want to try to get 23 each time (This is of course, VERY difficult!). The P (Power) coin appears after every ninth bomb is collected. The points value of the P coin ranges from 100 (Blue) to 2,000 (Silver). Since the color changes each time BJ jumps, you can control the bonus level by making small jumps until the coin turns silver.

  • The B (Bonus) coin appears every 5,000 points, and advances the bonus multiplier by 1. There is a maximum of 5 B coins per level.

  • Picking up the S (Special) coin awards one free credit. It will also take you to the next level automatically.

  • You can control where the mechanical bird appears by holding the joystick in the opposite direction. Example : Hold the joystick to the Right as soon as the round starts and the mechanical bird appears on the left of the screen. If the stick is held diagonally, the bird appears in the opposite corner.

  • When you start a level, and directly go to left or right, bird(s) will appear on the other side : it's useful to put them where you want in order to make this level easier, levels 7, 8 & 9 are good examples for that.

Info from wikipedia and arcade-history. is a fan site of the popular arcade game of BombJack.
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