Review: Mighty Bomb Jack (3DS eShop / NES)

Not so mighty

The original Bomb Jack was an addictive little arcade game in which the objective was to collect all the bombs in each level while avoiding enemies. Sounds like a simple concept - and it was.

For the NES, though, Tecmo decided to make a sequel with a bit of an adventure game element to it. The bomb rooms from the original game are still here, but they only really make up a small part of the game. Between each bomb room is a long hallway, tunnel, or what have you, filled with treasure chests and enemies. While you can just rush towards the exit, this game has a metric ton of secrets, including several hidden levels, and not just in the chests - so if you truly want to beat the game 100% you'll have to jump around in very inconspicuous spots until you find the goods.

An interesting element comes to play in the bomb rooms. At all times, one of the bombs will have a lit fuse. If you grab all other bombs first and finish with the lit one, you will warp straight to the next bomb room, skipping the whole level in between. This can be done all the way to the end of the game, so if you're really on your A game it can be cleared in minutes. However, this comes with a huge risk - if you die, you'll get sent back to the last actual level between bomb rooms that you played. This adds a nice little gamble element to the game - skip that tough level and get to the end faster, or create another checkpoint?

Another bit of a strategy comes in the form of coins you can collect, which will temporarily activate special powers when used - like being able to open chests by walking into them, and turning all on-screen enemies into money. You can only carry a very limited supply though, so these should only be used in the tightest of situations.

Still, while the bomb rooms are a fairly fun throwback to the original Bomb Jack (Their layouts are actually taken from the original game), the levels in-between aren't nearly as enjoyable. Randomly spawning enemies will quickly get on your nerves, and if you want to get all secrets to try and get the best ending, we can only wish you the best of luck - there are no hints or indications as to where they're located. It's also quite easy to hit the brick wall marked 'Game Over', and this game has no continues - so losing all lives means going all the way back to the beginning. Because of this, Mighty Bomb Jack is yet another game where the 3DS Virtual Console's save states are very welcome indeed.

While the graphics are fairly decent and there is a bit of variety between levels, Mighty Bomb Jack's music can get annoying quickly - there are really only two tunes to listen to, one for the regular levels and one for the bomb rooms. Neither is particularly long, so it's just a short beat looping over and over.

Conclusion

Mighty Bomb Jack is pretty much the definition of trial and error - there's no way you're beating this game until you've died and started over many times and learned exactly where the stuff you need is. Thankfully, the 3DS VC's save states go a long way to help alleviate this problem, and if you like your difficult NES action games, then perhaps you can get a little bit of fun out of Mighty Bomb Jack. However, we suspect that most players will become too frustrated - or perhaps bored - to make the effort.