“ Release Year: 1993 / Developer: Mediagogo „
I can picture the scene. Independent game producer Fabrice Decroix is sitting at home playing the arcade classic Bomberman, recently released for home computer systems, breaking through blocks and working his way towards the exit in the middle. After completing all fifty levels he feels fairly satisfied, but cant help thinking, this game would be much better if Bomberman was a penis, the exit was a woman lying in a bed, and the whole game was tailored around the flimsy contrivance of him getting his end away. Desperate to patent his idea before all the other eagle-eyed programmers noticed the gaping hole in the market for smutty knock-offs of superior arcade favourites, Decroix unleashed Bomb X into the Amiga world in 1993, just in time to satisfy those who were getting fairly bored of the really terrible Viz game.
Bomb X is a reasonably straightforward Bomberman clone that relies solely on its sexual premise for sales, though it was only ever released as a budget title. Its four-player option is a definite bonus, as each player controls a differently shaped version of the main character wearing a differently coloured waistcoat, selectable on the title screen. Aside from the default blue player, who I assume represents the male norm, there is a short and podgy character, a thin and withered one, and one with quite lumpy legs or rather, the two appendages that these characters use for legs. All of them except the thin one wear a form of pink beret, the thin ones skin being too taut for headwear to reveal itself, and there is no multi-racial option. Gameplay is almost exactly the same as Bomberman, as each player races against each other to destroy brown blocks with their emissions, avoiding or shooting enemies and collecting power-ups along the way. Its very limited in appeal, but provides an enjoyable cheap laugh for a few minutes, if youre thirteen years old, and even beyond the gimmicks its quite an enjoyable game.
The game lasts for an alleged fifty levels, all of which are pretty much the same; a green background, a blonde woman lying patiently in the centre, with destructible brown blocks, invincible metallic blue blocks, green trap-doors and several roaming enemies who regenerate after death. The enemies are a little abstract, one being a sort of generic germ or virus and the other a chomping set of teeth, about which players can draw their own conclusions. Needless to say, donning the protective rubber shield (thats what we told my little brother it was called, when he was slightly too young to really understand what was going on) protects against these germs for a limited time, though it has the side-effect of the player no longer being able to shoot.
Once the path to the coquettish exit is cleared, the player must seek out the shield in order to enter its gates protected, and bounce around in joy for a few seconds before the next level starts all over again. In disappointing contrast to these enemies and the rubber protector, the other collectables take the form of a life-giving heart and a cake, demonstrating a real laziness. Could he really not think of anything else smutty to include instead? Collecting a pair of hotpants allows the player to race around at an increased speed, while the skull is a red herring that causes death, similar to the Robotnik monitors in the Sonic the Hedgehog games and purple mushrooms in Mario. [Insert purple mushroom joke here.]
Although it gets very old very fast, this is an enjoyable, fast-paced game that multiples in enjoyment when playing against other people. The joystick wobbles your willy around the screen and the fire button shoots his magic bullets, an extended press of the button leaving behind the all-important puddles that clear the path to the centre. Probably the best touch is the need to re-fuel every so often, demonstrated by the character becoming dishevelled and less priapic, while the race for the Johnny adds a nicely competitive element to the multiplayer experience. The sound effects are hardly worth mentioning, and could easily be recycled between any number of games, but the graphics are fairly enjoyable and simplistic, too cartoony to be considered truly offensive or explicit (in a Wicked Willie style) but detailed enough to discern whats going on. There is very limited use of animation that keeps the disk space low, merely amounting to the opening animation of a bloke opening his coat to reveal his un-detailed, nude body, and the bouncing around thats somehow supposed to signify intercourse at the end of each level. The nicest little touch is the characters dizzy spell after they receive a blow from an enemy (or rather, a chomp), as its head swings in a dazed circle.
Bomb X was released on a single floppy disk (yes, yes) and was compatible with the Amiga 500, 600 and 1200, but wasnt hard disk installable (yes, yes, calm down). There is absolutely nothing beyond the flimsy cartoon-sex premise to distinguish this from other Bomberman clones, and in fact the array of power-ups and special features is significantly less than in the original game itself the phallus can only shoot one blob at a time, for example. Its amusing at about the most simplistic level possible, but what I actually enjoy about it more is the moral ground it takes in demonstrating the need for protection by forcing the player to wear it before they can have their fun at the end. Its a bit of a convoluted advertisement for safe sex, and not one I can imagine them introducing into the National Curriculum, but if someone told you they had a Bomberman game where the player controlled a penis who was trying to have sex, you would, wouldnt you?