Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mighty Bomb Jack: From The Dark Early NES Days

Mighty Bomb Jack is an NES sequel to Tecmo's first game, Bomb Jack. Released in 1986, it is a game from a transitional period in the NES's history from arcade-style games to more modern console era games. I don't know if Jack is supposed to have been a mascot for Tecmo, but the character has a bizarre design that is a mix between a superhero and cereal mascot. In a lot of ways the game straddles the line between those to styles, and the result is a game that is mostly just frustrating and annoying.


Each level is split into two parts that require two different play styles, and the split between old and new is pretty apparent between the two. The first part of each level is the newer parts that were made specifically for the NES. They are more exploration based, with larger levels and scrolling. In this part, there are a bunch of treasure chests, bombs, and enemies scattered throughout, but the goal is just to get from point A to point B. In the first couple of years of the Famicom's life, there were mostly arcade ports, and the second portion of the game is basically that, a port of the levels from Bomb Jack, where the goal is to collect all of the bombs.

In a post-Mario world, the platforming controls seem weird. There is no momentum, and instead of pressing the button longer to jump higher, pressing the button once flings Jack up to his highest jump height unless the button is pressed again, which cuts it short. It is just weird. The annoying part of the exploration sections is that there are tons of stuff scattered throughout the level, but there is very little reason to stop for them instead of rushing to the exit, and in a lot of ways the game discourages it. It just bothers me that there are a ton of chests that could be opened, but it is generally a bad idea to do so.

With the ticking down clock, it would seem like getting time extensions from chests, but picking up too many time extensions or picking up too many other items from the chests will throw the player into a “torture room” that requires the players jump a certain amount of times without dying in order to return to the level. That's just a fascinatingly dickish move to players that are conditioned to go for OCD levels of completion, which the other half of the game actually encourages. On top of that, the game constantly spawns enemies, so taking the time to open chests gets continuously more difficult the longer the player is in the same place.

Is that a lot of GDV?
I just don't get Mighty Bomb Jack. He's a guy that goes around collecting bombs. The title screen and cover artwork shows pyramids, so I guess the setting is inside of one. The box art on Wikipedia has a very surprised-looking sphinx. So, I guess Jack is a superhero that robs tombs and collects explosives, so he's some sort of combination between a raving lunatic and terrorist. The game is just frustrating, with a lot of hard to avoid enemies and temping things that are seemingly there just to slow me down and kill me. 

1 comment:

  1. This game's title is extremely misleading. First off, he's not mighty. If I remember correctly, one hit kills him. He also looks as if hes running around in a one peice pajama suit, and one not nearly as cool as Little Nemo's is. Besides this guy is nowhere near the level of a dream master... but i digress. Secondly, it shows him holding a bomb on the cover. This insinuates that you may be able to do something with bombs, be it throw them, plant them, hit things with them. Alas there is nothing of the sort in this game. Collect bombs? What kind of crap is this? Who in their right mind really runs around collecting bombs? As you stated the gameplay is frustrating, the controls all sorts of fucky, and the whole premise of chests that do nothing good for you, infuriating. Mighty bombjack is basically a subpar dodge and run game. Which is exactly what you should do when you see it.