Elite Systems Ltd
1987
Arcade: Platform
£7.95
£1.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

26
Ben Stone, Paul Sumner, Mike Dunn
Chris Bourne

Bombjack's supercharged superhero returns in this follow- up to the highly popular platform game. However, instead of defusing carelessly discarded bombs. Jack now lives in a free enterprise society, collecting bags of gold as a way of life.

As in the original, the action takes place in over forty different locations - ranging from the Taj Mahal to the lava pits of a distant planet. The objective is jump from platform to platform, collecting as many sacks of gold as possible. These are either open or closed, and Jack takes this into account when choosing the order in which they are to be picked up. Simply touching a sack adds it to Jack's collection.

Open sacks containing flashing gold coins are worth double points, and it is these that are most useful to our favourite gold-digger in his quest to become a millionaire. As soon as one open sack is collected another appears, and collecting six or more earns a large bonus. Collect ten open sacks, and an extra life is added to Jack's original three. Choosing the wrong sack to begin with means that the rest are collected out of order, causing problems and consequently decreasing the eventual score.

Wherever Jack goes, his simple desire for wealth is ruthlessly obstructed by obnoxious spoilsports, who do everything in their power to ensure that he remains a pauper. These guardian creatures resent Jack's quest for their precious nest-eggs, and try to push him from their platforms. Initially, mean tadpoles patrol jealously - in turn, they mutate into armour plated rhinos, which become stronger and more intelligent. Give these halt a chance, and they are transformed into creatures similar to Jack himself, and as active as a box of fleas. At first these irritating little bounders leap aimlessly, but if Jack is slow they begin to home in.

The correct route for Jack to follow is not always obvious. Some sacks can be tantalisingly close, but frustratingly hard to reach - trial and error is the only way to find the easiest path. Should Jack have to use a short platform guarded by a creature, he must be exceptionally quick to avoid being tumbled to his death. Memorising routes enables you to move him quickly, without the need for time consuming thought.

However, our would-be millionaire cannot always move to a platform, avoid a guard and acquire a sack by sheer speed alone. Sometimes, he too must use a little brawn and push the bizarre beasts from their platforms. Though Jack can pack more into his jumping than Daley Thompson, he does have limited energy, (perhaps he doesn't drink enough Lucozade?). Physical contact with a patroller drains our vitamin-packed leaper of energy, so by waiting until a guard is near a platform edge, he can push using the minimum of effort. But beware, a beast can bundle back, and engaging in any prolonged argybargy only proves that Jack needs to go on a body-building course. Check how our hero is standing up to the strain by carefully watching his energy levels - displayed on the left hand side of the screen.

If he doesn't feel like getting too intimate, Jack can take the easy way out and knife his enemy to death - repeated stabbing does the job twice as fast. However, don't kill an opposing creature on your start platform - he just reappears, and gives Jack an even harder time.

CRITICISM

'Bombjack was one of my all-time favourite games, so I was really looking forward to this sequel. Once again my hopes have been dashed... it's not that the end product has turned out badly, It hasn't - but it isn't really a patch on the original. The graphics are only adequate, the undersized characters are well animated and the backgrounds are nicely drawn, but I feel that Jack could have done with a little more detail (and his cape seems to have disappeared). The gameplay is where this really falls down, it takes too long to get any 'feel'. If you haven't already got Bombjack, then this represents excellent value for money - if you have. I suggest that you stick with it.' BEN

'I didn't find Bombjack II as compulsive as its predecessor, as I found myself getting bored with it very quickly. The graphics aren't as good as the original, Jack seems to have been forgotten and made to jump around in his underwear. The backgrounds are above average, but don't really make much difference to play. It's a great idea of ELITE'S to throw Bombjack in with the package - but I do get the feeling that most people will enjoy the freebie more than the actual product. Presentation is very much in the Bombjack style, and they still haven't included a redefine keys option. Bombjack II is more of an upgrade than a new game - in simple terms, it's more of the same.' PAUL

'Bombjack was a great little game; but something appears to be missing from its successor, and the original's addictive qualities have been lost along the way. Although the backgrounds have been improved from the simple two-dimensional pictures of the original, Bombjack Ifs characters are far inferior. Maybe it's a little unfair to compare the follow up to what was such a superb game, but I suspect that ELITE are aware of this inferiority, and have included the original as a form of compensation. Anyone who doesn't possess a copy of Bombjack ought to take advantage of a very good bargain - this however doesn't make up for the fact that Bombjack II is something of a disappointment.' MIKE

COMMENTS
Control keys: Q up, A down, N left, M right and X stab
Joystick: Kempston, Cursor, Interface 2
Use of colour: colourful backgrounds spoiled by monochromatic characters
Graphics: detailed scenery, but poor characters
Sound: no tune, but nice effects throughout
Skill levels: one
Screens: over 40
General Rating: A poor follow-up, which loses it predecessors sparkle.

75%
66%
74%
71%
87%
71%

Screenshot Text

The Stonehenge guards are armour-plated Rhinos, big grey wrinkly ones...