Bomb Jack © 1984 Tehkan
Main CPU : Z80 (@ 4 Mhz)
Sound CPU : Z80 (@ 3.072 Mhz)
Sound Chips : (3x) AY8910 (@ 1.5 Mhz)
Screen orientation : Vertical
Video resolution : 224 x 256 pixels
Screen refresh : 60.00 Hz
Palette colors : 128
Players : 2
Control : 8-way joystick
Buttons : 1
A Superbly playable and addicitive platform game, with gameplay that gives more than a passing nod to Namco's seminal "Pac-Man".
The object of the game is to collect all of the bombs on each level, before progressing to the next. Extra point bonuses are awarded for collecting bombs with their fuses lit. Only one bomb at a time has a lit fuse, and collecting twenty or more of these lit bombs on any given level will earn the player a points bonus (see TIPS AND TRICKS for details). Bomb Jack is pursued around each level by a variety of constantly spawning, mechanical enemies. When Bomb Jack gets killed, he drops to the nearest platform, always landing on his head.
The 5 different background pictures that feature in the game are : the Sphinx in Egypt, the Akropolis in Greece, Castle Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, skyscrapers and a cityscape by night. While the 5 backgrounds themselves are repeated as the player progresses, the platform layouts for each level are completely different. At least until level 18, after which the levels repeat themselves.
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 Ekiko, 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.