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Monday, September 22, 2014

NES Replay: Mighty Bomb Jack

Developer: Tecmo
Publisher: Tecmo
Released: May 1987
A good-sounding name can get you pretty far.

Like, say you have a name like Max Fightmaster. With a name like that, you could walk into any security agency or dojo and immediately have a job, or at least lackeys. With a more nebbishy name, like, say, Lee Evans, you’re lucky if you can get people to read articles you’ve written about NES games.

Mighty Bomb Jack is a great name for a game. I mean, just say that name out loud! It rolls off the tongue, and it sounds like excitement personified. A game with bombs! Mighty ones, at that! How could it be anything but awesome?

Tecmo has been profiting off that name for years. Every time Nintendo opens up one of their Virtual Console services on a new console, Mighty Bomb Jack is one of the first games for sale. Someone has to be buying it, and I’ve almost been tempted a couple of times just because the name is so cool. That's the power of a good name.

Sadly, the name is a total misrepresentation of what Mighty Bomb Jack is really about. For starters, while there are bombs in this game, you don’t use them. You collect them, for some reason, but you can’t use them. You know what that reminds me of? The sentence that comes to mind comes from one of the Golden Age episodes of The Simpsons, to wit: “When are they going to get to the fireworks factory?” In other words, in a game with bombs, when am I going to be able to use them? Ever? Never? The answer is never.

So what are you supposed to do in Mighty Bomb Jack? You’re supposed to open treasure chests while avoiding enemies, and then proceed to the next area of the level. Sounds simple, right?

Here’s why it sucks: Your enemies spawn randomly. No, no, wait. It’s worse that. Random enemies will spawn in random positions. Maybe a walking enemy will spawn on the side of the screen. Maybe a flying one will spawn right next to you. Who knows! Life is full of unfathomable and inscrutable mysteries! The enemies also never stop spawning for a second, so there’s always at least four enemies onscreen at all times. They are relentless. You can’t kill them, and if one enemy so much as touches a hair on your misshapen head, you're dead.

If that’s not bad enough, listen to this: In order to open a treasure chest, your character, Jack, has to jump on it. When you press that jump button , Jack rockets all the way up to the top of the screen, which makes it harder to maneuver. There’s never anything good in the treasure chests, so it’s mostly a waste of your time to open them. However, in order to proceed in the game, you sometimes have to get items that can only be found in the treasure chests. That means that you have to jump on these stupid chests and hope that nothing bad spawns right next to you, or that you can avoid it if it does.

But that’s not even the worst of it! Sometimes, you’ll find special coins that you have to collect. You have to have at least five in order to get the “good ending” of Mighty Bomb Jack, although I suppose any end to Mighty Bomb Jack could be technically classified as a good one. This brings its own special brand of stupid, and I’m going to turn the explanation over to the folks at StrategyWiki for this one:
If Jack ever stores up more than nine Mighty Coins, or pushes his Timer beyond 99 by collecting too many Mighty Drinks (which add 10 ticks to the current Timer), Jack will be judged as being greedy. His punishment will be to spend time in the Torture Chamber. You will know when this must happen when the game shows the message, "YOU ARE GREEDY GO TO THE TORTURE ROOM". In this chamber, Jack will be locked in an empty room and enemies will soon join him. In order to escape, Jack must jump off the floor fifty times. A count of 50 (49 in the Japanese version) appears at the top of the screen, and reduced by one every time Jack jumps. Completing fifty (fourty-nine in the Japanese version) jumps while avoiding all of the enemies is no easy task, and is best avoided all together. If you succeed, you will start over at the beginning of the stage with no Mighty Coins in your possession at all.
Yes! If you collect too many of them, the game penalizes you! And what does all your hard work get you in the end? Here, just watch the ending.


In short, Mighty Bomb Jack is the worst and may even be responsible for certain types of cancer.

Final Rating: