In 1987, Tecmo, the developer behind some of our favorite video game series, released an abomination upon the gaming world. A game in which the player must traverse through sixteen levels in a quest to take down the evil Demon King, Beelzebut. A game with no true objective, other than to confuse and upset new and veteran players alike. A game in which an enemy can be a skeleton, then suddenly transform into a parrot. The game that I speak of is Mighty Bomb Jack for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Join me on this retrospective, as we explore why this game was my choice for Bad Video Game Review Day.
In this game the player is given the task of adventuring through various Egyptian labyrinths, while constantly dodging enemies that spawn at anytime or from any location. This hinders the player from learning how to navigate the stage because the player never knows what to expect. This causes the player's motivation to drop and it halts any chance of the player's platforming skills to improve. The other problem with the enemies is their random transformations. For example, a mummy will spawn before the player, then it'll transform into either a green skull, a fireball, a parrot, or even a rocket propelled headless turtle; all of which move in an equally random and unpredictable fashion. As the player progresses further into the game, the level designs become extremely cramped and enemy spawn rates increase; which creates a number of risky and sometimes impossible situations for surviving. Thus increasing the difficulty of the stages, and decreasing the enjoyment of the game in its entirety.
Mighty Bomb Jack is plagued with a number of bad game play mechanics, the majority deal with Jack himself. As I mentioned earlier, Jack gains different abilities when the color of his costume changes. First, when Jack’s costume changes to blue, he gains the ability to open gold treasure chests. Next, the orange costume gives Jack the ability to open chests by walking up to them. Lastly, the green costume transforms enemies into coins for five seconds. Gaining these costume changes is not an easy task. The player must search through treasure chests to find Mighty Coins and then use the Mighty Coins to change colors. When the player uses one coin, Jack's costume changes to blue, use another to change to orange, and another for green. If the player doesn't have enough Mighty Coins to change into the green costume, they must rely solely on their immaculate jumping and dodging skills to get pass the danger. But beware, if Jack collects more than nine Mighty Coins, he’ll be sent to the Torture Room. A room where Jack must dodge enemies for sixty seconds and the only escape from the Torture Room is to jump fifty times. At this point in Mighty Bomb Jack, you realize that the game hinders the player’s survival in any way possible.
In conclusion, I honestly believe Mighty Bomb Jack could have been a great game, if it weren't riddled with such terrible game design practices. There are plenty of reasons of why I dislike this game, but the restricted power-up system, the unpredictable enemy behavior, and the Torture Room alone are the key reasons why I loathe this game. The only consistent aspect of Mighty Bomb Jack is the continuous punishment that the player receives for just trying to survive. With that being said, if you enjoy being frustrated, by all means, give Mighty Bomb Jack a try. If not, I recommend you take a pass on this game.