B is for…Bomb Jack

My A-Z of Arcade Games. .
On the matter of Bomb Jack and light fingerings

You can read the genesis of this A-Z here.

Now onto B!

There were a few contenders here, and when it came down to it I ended with a top 3 that I found it hard to separate. All games that I love for different reasons, games that I remember feeding endless 20 cent coins into, coins that I tended to steal from my mum’s purse.

The memories associated with these games are not necessarily what I was playing, but where. I grew up in Secunda in what is now Mpumalanga in South Africa, and after a few years living in a trailer we moved to this house below. Its changed very little in 30 years, and was not far from what we called ‘The Palm Trees Shops’. Named so because there were a load of palm trees around the car park there. It was at that small complex that we played most of our games in the eighties. Whether on the way back from school or because I had been sent to the shops, or simply because I had a few Rand to spend, that is where we tended to end up.

But that was not the case for these 3 games. Oh no, for these beauties we had to travel. We would get on our bikes and head across town to Fotis cafe (I think that was the name), and it was there that I recall playing these 3.

Bomb Jack, Bubble Bobble, and Bermuda Triangle.

They were all amazing for different reasons, and having played all 3 today they still are. Bermuda Triangle and Bubble Bobble offered simultaneous 2 player – so that was a great shared experience, whilst Bomb Jack was a single player.

Bermuda Triangle.

Bermuda Triangle was a shooter, standard fare in many ways, though a bit different in that you would scroll both up and down the screen as you progressed, whilst upgrading speed and weapons as many of the flight shooters did – and still do. There was also a time travel element – though this served to mostly offer new environments and enemies – with no real explanation. I made little sense but it was a lot of fun.

Bubble Bobble involved collecting things and popping bubbles and capturing enemies, and Bomb Jack was all about capturing…well, bombs…You would fly around the screen, leaping and floating with all manner of mechanical creatures trying to kill you.

So none of them made a lot of sense, so what , that wasn’t really the point. What mattered was progressing further, clearing more levels, attaining higher scores. This mattered. A lot.

They were more fun though because we were on other peoples turf. Hit a high score and unseat the local champ I you felt like the king of the fucking world as I typed MIC next to the new high score. You knew that some local kid would be along at some point, and pick up that gauntlet, knowing we had been over and messed about on his patch.

Hell, we might as well as fingered his sister so personal was it. (We only went as far as discussing light fingering back then as we were still rather young.) Not that any of us had partaken in such things, but we’d heard about it. From the older kids.

Anyway…

I chose Bomb Jack as number one because I remember one of the lads that used to be rather good at it, and he was a real Dick. Vincent. There was this back and forth, month after month, with my mate Granville ending up being his Bomb Jack nemesis. Vincent did end up being the winner I think, and then one day the machine was just gone – and that was it, challenge over.

Curiously they never actually bumped into each other at the machine, though if I recall correctly I think Granville did actually finger his sister in later years.

Funny how life works out isn’t it.

Bomb Jack
Bermuda Triangle