What sort of being is Bomb Jack? He doesn't so much fly as leap around. And he's no more than knee high to a grasshopper. Come to think of it, a grasshopper's what he most resembles. So what sort of hero is this bounding, bomb collecting midget? The answer is an arcade hero - and now he's let loose in your micro courtesy of conversion kings, Elite.
Let's just say that Bomb Jack probably shouldn't be as addictive as it is. After all, arcade games are designed not to last too long because they're always greedy for the next meal of ten pences. But then again, they're also designed to make you want to play again.... and again and again and again. And that's where Bomb Jack scores, because each time you lose your final life you're convinced that next time you can clear that screen.
Here's how it works. Your caped crusader bounces all over a world provided with convenient platforms. You launch him into the air with a quick press on the fire button, trying to pass over bombs as you fly. Clear a screen of explosives and on to the next, more difficult location. The forces of evil are out to stop you though, from the first flapping bird to the little soldiers who eventually reach the ground to metamorphose into something much nastier.
All of which neglects to mention the scoring. There's a fine bit of strategy involved in maxamising your points - and if ever there was a high score freak's dream, this is it! The first thing to know is that a bomb that's fizzing is worth 200 rather than 100 points. Collect one of those and it sets off the next one in the sequence, so a row of four can be worth 400 or 800 points depending on whether it's ignited or not. It's up to you to plan a route. There are special bonuses for collecting 20 or more sparking bombs and there are also Bonus coins that float in for you to snatch, plus Extra lives coins and Power balls. These paralyse the nasties for a while letting you eliminate them - very useful when air space becomes too full to fly with comfort!
Bomb Jack, it must be said, isn't the easiest little critter to control. Getting him up is simple, but then you'll need your wits about you to steer him as he speeds around. Left and right swerve his flight while an extra boost of height comes from pressing up and a speedier descent is aided by down. If you need an immediate halt while in the air just hit the fire button again, and rapidly tapping it will make him hover, You'll need lots of practice to get your pilot's certificate though - and a joystick won't do any harm either! While Elite has considerately included a turbo mode for the keyboard player - it simulates a constantly-pressed fire button - a stick makes life much easier.
There you have it, then - a simple idea that's one hundred per cent addictive. The graphics are great with an amusingly animated sprite for your heroic mite, even though the monochrome figures are sometimes a little hard to see against the coloured backgrounds. Amplify the sound to get the most from the spot effects and you too will soon be battling to get your name in the high score table. Bomb Jack is most certainly a blast!
The guards are restricted to strutting around as they make their way to the ground, pacing up and down the platforms, making landing tricky. And they also appear up here in this corner, which is a distinct nuisance.
Here you are, Jumpin' Bomb Jack, the all leaping hero. Remember, kids, Bomb Jack can't fly... unless he's on solid ground. Once you're on the way down there's nothing you can do until the next jump. What a bounder!This vulture's always the first peril to appear on screen and it's clever enough to move towards you so you can't stay in once place too long. Luckily it's also slow.Here's a bonus score coin, floating in to let you boost your points for the screen - but beware because collecting too many of these will stop the supply of further useful coins!When you reach the ground the guards reveal themselves for what they truly are - worms. And unluckily they can fly. Even worse and the bouncing balls. The only thing to do at a time like this is to pray for a power pill that'll freeze them so you can eat them.
To help you get started here's a route round the first screen to maximise your score. Row A means bounding from between the bombs below to leave them till later. Don't go too high for row B or you'll get the bomb in the top right hand corner too early. Getting across to C can cause problems - best bet is to wait for a Power Pill and eliminate the enemy. Similar problems will occur with D but E shouldn't be too bad. Watch out for ground forces on row F though and then up, up and away to G, collecting the bombs from right to left. Achieve all that and your score will be doubled, plus bonuses, so you'll be surrounded by people wanting to know you, asked out to parties every night, kick sand in people's faces....