Lost In Translation/Bomb Jack

From ExoticA
Bomb Jack
Bomb Jack marquee.
Bomb Jack title screen.
Bomb Jack control panel.
Manufacturer Tehkan
Released 1984
8-way Joystick
1 Button(s)
Main CPU Z80 (@ 4.000 MHz)
Z80 (@ 3.072 MHz)
Sound CPU Mono
(3x) AY-3-8910A (@ 1.500 MHz)
Raster (Vertical)
256 x 224 pixels
60.00 Hz
128 Palette colours
Screens 1
ROM Info 16 ROMs
114,688 bytes (112.00 KiB)
MAME ID bombjack · bombjac2

About The Game

A Superbly playable and addicitive platform game, with gameplay that gives more than a passing nod to Namco's seminal "Pac-Man".

The object of the game is to collect all of the bombs on each level, before progressing to the next. Extra point bonuses are awarded for collecting bombs with their fuses lit. Only one bomb at a time has a lit fuse, and collecting twenty or more of these lit bombs on any given level will earn the player a points bonus. Bomb Jack is pursued around each level by a variety of constantly spawning, mechanical enemies. When Bomb Jack gets killed, he drops to the nearest platform, always landing on his head.

The five different background pictures that feature in the game are the Sphinx and Great Pyramid in Cairo, the Akropolis in Greece, Castle Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, skyscrapers and a cityscape by night. While the five backgrounds themselves are repeated as the player progresses, the platform layouts for each level are completely different. At least until level eighteen, after which the levels repeat themselves.

A powerball appears at semi-regular intervals and moves diagonally around the screen. If the player manages to grab this, all of the level's monsters are frozen for several seconds and can then be killed by having Bomb Jack fly into them (similar to the 'Powerpill' feature in "Pac-Man"). Collecting the Bonus 'B' symbols will increase the amount of points awarded for collecting bombs with their fuses lit. Picking up an 'Extra' symbol awards the player with an additional life, while catching the 'Special' symbol will give the player an extra credit.


Released in October 1984, the original idea for Bomb Jack was conceived by Michitaka Tsuruta, lead designer for Guzzler and Solomon's Key, under the supervision of Kazutoshi Ueda, the genius behind Mr. Do!, Lady Bug and other Universal coin-ops.

Curiously enough, the infamous Sphinx in the opening round was not rendered by the graphic designer of the game, but by Ekiko, the sound designer. Tsuruta-san recalls how roles in Japanese development teams were quite interchangeable, in those early years.

Round 1 music is the ending song from the Japanese animated cartoon series 'Spoon Oba-san', sung by the ultra-popular Mari Ijima (Lynn Minmay's voice in Macross). The anime was aired in 1983... at that time, Bomb Jack development was just starting - something more than a coincidence, then.

Round 2 features the music of 'Lady Madonna', by The Beatles. Tsuruta-san, recalls that rights were paid for the licensed music at the time; still, later ports (PS2 and XBOX) come with a replaced soundtrack (mostly the Vs. Mighty Bomb Jack score).

"Bomb Jack II" has nothing really to do with Tekhan or Tecmo : it was developed by British Elite Systems for European home computers only, in an attempt to follow the huge success of the Bomb Jack coin-op conversion. They basically bought the license for the name, and then proceeded to create a mediocre maze game.

Giauco Bondavalli holds the official record for this game with 20,010,960 points on November 3, 1984.

Alfa Records released a limited-edition soundtrack album for this game (Tecmo Game Music - 28XA-95) on 25/09/1986.


The older version (set 2) says 'YOU ARE LUCY' instead of 'YOU ARE LUCKY'.


  • Jumping, hitting a wall or falling from a platform : 10 points x bonus multiplier value.
  • Normal bomb : 100 points x bonus multiplier value.
  • Firebomb : 200 points x bonus multiplier value.
  • (P)ower : 100 when blue, 200 when red, 300 when purple, 500 when green, 800 when cyan, 1,200 when yellow and 2,000 points when grey x bonus multiplier value.
  • (B)onus Multiplier: 1,000 points x bonus multiplier value.
  • (E)xtra Life : 1,000 points x bonus multiplier value plus an extra life.
  • (S)pecial : 1,000 points x bonus multiplier value plus a free credit.
  • Killing monsters while (P) is active : 100, 200, 300, 500, 800, 1,200 and 2,000 points. These are all multiplied by the current bonus multiplier value.

End of level bonus :

Firebombs Defused Points
23 50,000
22 30,000
21 20,000
20 10,000

Tips and tricks

  • A little information about the appearence of the powerball : the rule is very simple and you just have to look at the colour at the left and right of the multiplicator number, its size grows as you collect bombs.
  1. Take a 'lit bomb' and you get 1 point ahead for the next Powerball. Take a non-lit bomb and you'll get 0.5 point for the next Powerball. When you achieve 10 points, the powerball appears. Your powerball points don't grow if either the powerball is there or if the 'power music' is playing, so avoid collecting bombs when it's not necessary.
  2. The powerball can have different score values when taking it. When it appears, jump or hit a wall and its colour will change. The colours and score values are blue (100 points), red (200 points), purple (300 points), green (500 points), turquoize (800 points), yellow (1000 points) and grey (2000 points).
  3. The 'B' bonus coin adds 1 to the multiplicator value and appears each 5,000 points, but only if you 'pass' these 5,000 points when not taking a 'B' coin. For example, your multiplicator is 2x, your score is 9,000 and you take a 'B' coin; giving you 1,000x2 = 2,000 points which makes a total of 11,000 points. A 'B' coin should then appear because you have passed the 10,000 points, but doesn't because you took a 'B' coin to achieve this score so you'll have to wait for 15,000 points to get a new 'B' coin. The multiplicator limit is X5.
  • An important piece of information to remember is that you can pick up the bombs in a certain order to earn maximum points. If you pick up most of the bombs while their fuses are lit, you get the bonuses as shown above.

So of course, you'll want to try to get 23 each time (This is of course, VERY difficult!). The (P)ower coin appears after every ninth bomb is collected. The points value of the (P) coin ranges from 100 (Blue) to 2,000 (Silver). Since the color changes each time BJ jumps, you can control the bonus level by making small jumps until the coin turns silver.

  • The (B)onus coin appears every 5,000 points, and advances the bonus multiplier by 1. There is a maximum of 5 (B) coins per level.
  • Picking up the (S)pecial coin awards one free credit. It will also take you to the next level automatically.
  • You can control where the mechanical bird appears by holding the joystick in the opposite direction. Example : Hold the joystick to the Right as soon as the round starts and the mechanical bird appears on the left of the screen. If the stick is held diagonally, the bird appears in the opposite corner.
  • When you start a level, and directly go to left or right, bird(s) will appear on the other side : it's usefull to put them where you want in order to make this level easier, levels 7, 8 & 9 are good examples for that.


  1. Bomb Jack (1984)
  2. Bomb Jack II (1986, Commodore C64)
  3. Vs. Mighty Bomb Jack (1986)
  4. Bomb Jack Twin (1993)


Michitaka Tsuruta
Michishito Ishizuka
Graphic & Character Design
Rie Ishizuka (aka Rie Yatomi)
Music & Sound Design
Kazutoshi Ueda

Cabinet and Artwork


Box art for the Encore re-release port of Bomb Jack.
Box art for the Elite tie-in of Mighty Bomb Jack.
Sega SG-1000 (1985)
Nintendo Game Boy (1992)
Sony PlayStation 2 (2004, "Tecmo Hit Parade")
Microsoft XBOX (2005, "Tecmo Classic Arcade")
NEC PC8801 (1985)
Commodore 16 (1986)
Commodore C64 (1986)
Sinclair ZX Spectrum (1986)
Amstrad CPC (1986)
Atari ST (1988)
Commodore Amiga ("Bomb Jack", 1987 Elite)
Commodore Amiga ("Mighty Bomb Jack", 1990 Elite)
Mobiles phone [Nokia 3410] (2002)

Screen Shot Comparison

Title Screen

Level 1 Screen

Sound Comparison

Platform Song Titles Sound Source
Arcade "Title" "Got a Special Coin" "BGM 1" "Clear" "Got a Power Ball" "BGM 2" "Special Bonus" "BGM 3" "Game Over" "Name Entry 1" "Name Entry 2" M1 v0.7.7u4

External Links

The contents of this page are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
The sources used include MAME (version 0.113u2) and history.dat (revision 1.28 - 2008-10-18).
Please see http://www.arcade-history.com for credits.