Bomber Raid Review

Developer: SEGA Publisher: Activision
Release Date: 1988 Also On: None

What is it with so many shooting titles being under “B”? B-Wings
for the Famicom, Blade Eagle 3-D for SMS and now this. Don’t get me wrong, I
may seem a little belligerent towards this game, but I’m really not. I’m not
sure why I even mentioned the issue of “B” because I probably just listed
all of the “B” shooters in 8-Bit history. Bomber Raid is one of only a few
games released by a second party for the Master System for the NTSC audience
due to Nintendo’s strangle hold on other companies back in the 80s and early
90s. It has a nice black box setting it off from the others in the library,
plus the NTSC version is a bit difficult to find. Anyway, it’s fairly
standard, you control a plane and shoot other planes with bosses at the end
of levels and power ups. Regardless of its simplicity, however, it ends up
being quite an addictive and entertaining title, though certainly not

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Graphically, Bomber Raid isn’t too shabby, even for its time. All of the
characters are standard fare, but there are a few quirks here and there that
caught my attention. The title screen is drab, but this is thrown aside by a
decent intro that flows into you taking off from the ground and beginning
the attack. Nice connection between scenes there and great animations on
your plane, it actually has three separate shots to capture it’s motions
from left to right. Pretty impressed with that because many shooters fail
to really capture that “swerving” feel of the aircraft

Basic enemies are interesting, mainly because there are only three of them.
You have these odd spinning things that look lame, these fighters that
gather in formation and then these little planes flying all over the place.
The third are the most impressive. Though you fight these little things over
and over again, the programmers have them coming at you in possibly every
single formation they could have thought of. They’ll fly from the lower
corners, bank and shoot, or perhaps flying from the top, turn and go back.
It’s really interesting they took a single character and used it repeatedly
so well with so many graphical variations. You’d think it would get old
after awhile, considering how many of them you shoot down, but it seriously
doesn’t. I was very surprised with that. The animations on the planes is
just as good as yours, they really got some good details in there and
capture various twists and turns wonderfully.

There are a few larger enemies thrown in there for variety, some submarines,
cruisers, helicopters, bigger planes and so forth. Good job on them as well.
The bosses were a bit disappointing though, I must say. I expected typical
large tanks, planes and such, but a bit more detail and movement would have
been nice. One of them doesn’t even make sense. You fight this large plane,
and after blowing it to pieces a smaller thing remains that amounts to a
triangle which shoots in a circle. Really no clue what that’s supposed to
be. The final boss was disappointing as well, just a big collection of turrets that you see throughout the levels, nothing interesting at all. In
addition, boss segments are quite bland in terms of background. The plane
segment is simply blue, the tank segment is orange and you get the idea. I’m
not sure where the clouds and greenery went to. The ending was decent, they
threw in some altered graphics found in the opening and added another screen
with credits. Overall though, they didn’t do a bad job.

Sound here isn’t the greatest. There are only five musical themes total in
the entire game. You have one for the levels that repeats endlessly, another
for the bosses, one for the title screen, one for the between level points
roundup and the last for the ending. A bit more with the music would have
been great, at least different themes for each level because it really gets
biting after awhile. Sound effects, however, are nicely done. There aren’t
many, but what’s present is nice, really fits the atmosphere and graphics

The gameplay is where Bomber Raid really shines. It carries many typical
features found in nearly every shooting game you can think of, but it does
them quite nicely. Button 2 fires a cluster bomb that varies in intensity
based on what you’re using it for. For some enemies, it spreads out in a big
circular wave, while for others it stays smaller. Button 1 fires. This game
takes some button mashing, but it’s nice and responsive so it really isn’t
an annoyance. You have three lives and can gain extra through points and you
also have unlimited continues. This makes it a bit too easy, but if you’re
going for high scores I guess it kind of matters since the counter obviously
resets to zero. You have five levels ahead of you, each with a boss and tons
of enemies beforehand. After you beat it, the game restarts and gets even
harder and more insane. I’ve never beaten the second loop, so I don’t know
what happens after that.

So that’s the basic run, and it is basic, but the structure of the action is
superb. You start out weak with three bombs and no speed, but almost every
five seconds you get various power ups flying around that you can collect
when you have a moment. Though there are a ton of them, you have to gather
around twenty-five to reach maximum power. That’s some serious power up
collecting. It’s really fun as well because you can tell you’re gaining in
power very slowly until you end up with this wave of fire resembling an
eagle. Cluster bombs cannot be upgraded. You can only collect more of them
as you go to the next level. If you end a level with three, you get three
additional ones added on to that for the next level. Speed can only be
upgraded so far, but there are also these little plane options you can get
as well. There are four types of these. Basically, they’re just tiny little
planes that shoot with you, though they cannot gain power. They can either
shoot to the sides, to the upper corners, to the lower corners, or behind to
the side. As the power up comes down the screen, you can shoot it to get it
to change from the numbers 1-4, picking the one you want. Planes cannot be
mixed however, so if you first get a number 1, when you collect a number 2
they both switch to this formation. I suppose it would have been interesting
to mix them around however you please, but it would have been kind of

So you take all that and you tackle five levels. Really simple to get into
and you don’t even need the manual to figure it out. What’s nice about this
game is something very rare in shooters from this era. Normally, when you’re
farther along in the game and lose your power ups, you can pretty much
forget advancing any farther because the enemies are just too difficult.
Here, however, with so many power ups coming your way, you can upgrade fast
and get yourself to a position where the enemies are more manageable. Really
works well. So aside from the sheer volume of power ups you’ll see, their
purpose is twofold. One, it takes a ton of them to get to maximum power so
it’s not very simple to do, and two, the more around the more of a chance
you have of getting out of tough situations when you die. I did find the
game too easy, the infinite continues makes it hardly a challenge, though
the second loop is a lot more difficult. Maybe it gets more difficult after
that. Still, I think they should have limited the number of continues you
can have. Another nice feature here is a “Percent Destroyed” tally at the
end of every level, giving you different point values depending on how many
enemies you took down. Adds a bit more variety and fun, because it isn’t
easy to destroy everything.

For the creative factor in Bomber Raid, I unfortunately have to score a bit
lower than I’d like. It’s a lot of fun and it does what it does well, but it
really doesn’t do any of it with a sense of innovation. It’s just sort of
there, good, but nothing special in terms of design and concept. I’ve come back to this game numerous times over the past two years I’ve
owned it. It’s really easy to pick up and get into without having to worry
about consulting manuals or anything, not like most shooters do, it’s just
that this one has a simple feel to it which makes it readily accessible to
anyone who decides to play it. I doubt I’d ever actually go through it
twice in one sitting, but I must admit I’m a bit curious as to what happens
if you beat the second loop, just not curious enough. It’s a good game, but
nothing to get too excited over. As far as length is concerned, it’s a bit
too short, though this could be a good thing to some people. It takes a
little under twenty minutes to go through provided you’re a bit familiar
with it. For those of you looking for a long, strenuous shooter title,
Bomber Raid is not for you. But if you just want a quick run to blow some
time, give it a go.

In conclusion, Bomber Raid is a nice little game from the abused 8-Bit
shooter genre. It’s nothing spectacular, but in its simplicity it finds a
way to prove itself in the end. The programmers did a great job of using
what they had to the fullest potential. More thought in the design would
have been good, but for what you get and what they did, it’s an overall
decent job that you won’t regret playing.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 6.5
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 4.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 6.6
Written by Stan Review Guide

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