Bomb Jack II

by Paul Holmes, Andy Williams, Rory C. Green
Elite Systems Ltd
Crash Issue 39, April 1987   (1987-03-26)   page(s) 26

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.

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

'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.'

'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.'

'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.'

Presentation: 75%
Graphics: 66%
Playability: 74%
Addictiveness: 71%
Value for Money: 87%
Overall: 71%

Summary: General Rating: A poor follow-up, which loses it predecessors sparkle.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 66, July 1989   (1989-06-29)   page(s) 45

Jack's back, and leaping into action for his second platform bounding game. Like the original, Bombjack II's set over 40 screens of platforms each patrolled by a vicious creature. And rather than saving the world by defusing bombs, this time Jack leaps for his own ends as he collects sacks of money which lie on the platforms.

Sacks are either opened or closed, collecting an open sack gives you double the money of collecting an unopened one. Sacks also open in order -so when one open sack is collected another opens. Jack should plan his leaping in accordance with the order the sacks open for maximum dosh.

Sadly, for all the tweaking that has gone on, Bombjack II doesn't offer much more than its predecessor. The colourful backdrops are somewhat spoiled by the messy monochromatic sprites and there isn't much sound to spruce the proceedings up.

Worth it only if you haven't got the original.

Overall: 65%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 17, May 1987   page(s) 37

The best thing to be said about Bomb Jack II is the free copy of the original Bomb Jack you also get, though as six trillion people have already bought the first one that's not exactly stunning news.

Reading the instructions makes it all sound pretty promising. In addition to leaping around the place, Jack the Lad can now karate chop the assorted nasties and there are 'over 40 fiendishly complicated settings'.

Unfortunately the settings are also accompanied by fiendishly uncomplicated graphics. Can you really play a game where both your hero and the nearest monster impersonate the Invisible Man when they meet to do battle?

The game's not a complete disaster, but it's a pity you can't super-zoom around the screen in various directions any more. Now you merely jump up or down, left or right, gathering up the goodies and chopping the baddies. Mind you, getting your chops in can be a bit tricky. Some of those platforms just ain't big enough for you and a monster, and seeing as the monster has the advantage of being there first you've got to fight like f-f-f-f-ury to zap them out of the way. Though they don't so much zap as disappear in a puff of smoke.

The game's hardly likely to do that, but I'll bet a bomb to a damp banger that Bomb Jack will be played a lot longer than its sequel.

Graphics: 6/10
Playability: 7/10
Value For Money: 6/10
Addictiveness: 7/10
Overall: 6/10

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 44, August 1989   page(s) 50

Another old Elite game disinterred for today's dosh-free Spec-chums, and first released in early 1987. At the time we all felt it was a bit of a disappointment, especially after the superb Bombjack I, but that didn't stop it going to the top of the charts and selling trillions. It's similar to the original - jumping between platforms trying to blag bags of money, and this time stabbing the nasties if you can, which in my experience you usually can't (avoiding them is a better bet). As before, the backgrounds are sumptuous, and there's a bonus if you blag the wads in the right order (this can be found by trial and error, or by looking at old copies of computer mags). With 40-odd screens, you'd have thought it all added up to corking good value, but BJ II goes awry with its graphics - it's virtually impossible to identify what's what, and when you and the nasties are fighting, it is completely impossible. Add some disturbingly samey gameplay and the result's not what it might have been. Not a disaster - just not on the button.

Overall: 58%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 61, April 1987   page(s) 46,47

Bouncing Bombjack's back, even more determined to outwit the shaggy monsters on the levels and grab the sacks of gold. The trick with Bombjack II is these woolly adversaries keep mutating. As you play and as time goes on unless you get rid of them they transform - and each time they do they get a whole lot trickier to deal with.

To destroy one of these Wooly adversaries - they look like dinosaurs during their early stages of each level - unsheath your knife and prod the beast off the platform. Alternatively, you can jump frenziedly around the screen, picking up sacks. Pick them all up and all the remaining monsters die.

This latter mode of operation is dangerous because any contact with the enemy drains your strength.

Don't take too long clearing the platforms. The monsters go through two mutations. After approx 40 seconds the soft skinned carnivores turn into armour-plated robots. A further 30 seconds and they follow your lead and start jumping about all around the screen. Yet more lost energy for you.

More hassle. You can jump only vertically or horizontally from some of the platforms. That means a lot of trial and error when finding the best way to get around a screen. And in some cases you're forced to jump to a very short platform when you can't help but bump into a monster. The sketchy instructions on the insert suggest that you move quickly to and from the danger level. They don't say, however, that you should continually press the joystick left or right, knife at the ready to deal a glancing blow to the hopefully hapless monster: if you don't it could push you off the platform.

It's not all bad news. Bags of gold normally score 100 points when tightly zipped but if a bag splits open - most do just before the monsters start to jump - it's worth 200 points. Why - that's a mystery. Bombjack II's a real pig to complete. That's to say it's a real sharp release and a great sequel.

It's jaunty graphics and variety of platforms - colour and structure - takes it to the top of the platform game league, outstripping Cobra with style and Legend of Kage with great ease. And with the original Bombjack game on Side 2 of the tape you just can't lose.

Label: Elite
Price: £7.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: John Gilbert


Overall: 5/5

Summary: Platforms and ladders with great style. Terrific sequel to a strong original, which is thrown in too as a Free extra.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE Issue 24, September 1989   page(s) 84

Encore, £1.99, Spectrum

Bombjack the first was an absorbing, fun, platform style game which was well received on all formats. Bombjack II however did not go down so well.

The basic gameplay was almost the same to that of BJ, a main character who could fly between platforms. But for some reason all the graphics were reduced in size, which in turn reduced the gameplay...

Only really recommended to fans of the original arcade conversion.

Overall: 2/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE Issue 26, November 1989   page(s) 114

Encore, £2.99
C64, Spec, Amstrad

Elite had high hopes for this sequel to the Taito platform classic in Spring '87. Although the gameplay never really matched that of its stable mate Bubble Bobble, it was a good, addictive, platform challenge nonetheless. The cute character from the original game is not quite so cute in this sequel as he comes armed with a knife to deal with his adversaries. The display has a semi-3D effect as BJ leaps onto the screen as he explores his platforms. These are scattered with treasure which BJ must collect - being careful to avoid the mutated dinosaurs who would prefer to keep the treasure themselves. Not in the first division with Bubble Bobble but in the same league.

Overall: 4/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ZX Computing Issue June 1987   page(s) 36


Well that's it, the end of an era. Bomb Jack II arrived in the office and once I'd clubbed all the competition senseless I won the honour of loading it up and getting to review the sequel to Bomb Jack, one of the most addictive games in the history of the entire universe. But to be honest, it was a bit of a disappointment.

The basic format of the game is more or less the same as in the original arcade game - you guide Bomb Jack around dozens of screens full of platforms and bombs, in an attempt to defuse them all - but somehow the 'feel' of the game isn't the same. The main difference between the two games is that in BJII, you now have a 'stab' button that allows you to fight the reptiles on the earlier screens. Somehow though, I don't think that this really adds to the game since it actually removes some of the element of high speed panic that was so much a part of the first game. This does help if you're trying to rack up a high score but isn't as much fun as all that leaping around and trying to defuse the bombs in the correct order at the same time as avoiding the monsters that are patrolling the platforms.

I would have expected the graphics to be tidied up a little too. The original Bomb Jack suffered from some quite bad masking problems when sprites overlapped. These have been improved, but the graphics now look a little bit cramped and the figure of Jack looks a bit like a small man in a flat cap rather than the dynamic caped sprite that we're all use to.

To be fair, BJ II isn't that bad a game but I simply didn't find it as compellingly addictive as its predecessor. On the other hand, the original Bomb Jack is included on the other side of the tape so if you haven't already got it, then it's probably worthwhile buying Bomb Jack II and getting both games for the price of one.

Overall: Great

Transcript by Chris Bourne

All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB