Super Jagger Bomb is a solid homage to a classic

The outright “cloning” of games is generally frowned upon these days, particularly after numerous controversies over it in the mobile gaming space. But back in the days of the 8-bit home computers, cloning was rife. Indeed, many great programmers who are still working in the games industry today got their start by cloning classic arcade games for platforms like the ZX Spectrum and the Commodore 64. Super Jagger Bomb from Eastasiasoft reminds me of those good old days.

Super Jagger Bomb is a clone of Tecmo’s arcade classic Bomb Jack, you see, and it isn’t even attempting to hide it. Its cover art is remarkably akin to the arcade machine artwork and box art for its home ports, the main character is coloured almost identically to the main sprite of the original game, and the gameplay is mostly identical. And I really like it.

Super Jagger Bomb

In Super Jagger Bomb, you take on the role of superhero Jagger, whose job it is to collect bombs and stop things from being blown up. Like in the original Bomb Jack, there’s no real attempt to contextualise what is going on beyond this basic justification for the mechanics, and honestly there doesn’t need to be any more than that. This is not a game you play for the story; it’s a game you play for the enjoyable arcade action.

If you’ve never played Bomb Jack, both it and Super Jagger Bomb present an unusual take on the single-screen platformer format. Your goal is nothing more than to collect all the bombs on the screen, though you get a significant number of bonus points if you collect them in the correct order, indicated by the next one in the sequence being “lit”. In a pleasing improvement from the original Bomb Jack, Super Jagger Bomb actually shows the entire sequence of bombs in order as a new level appears, meaning you don’t have to guess where the starting point is.

Bomb Jack and Super Jagger Bomb’s main twist is in its jumping mechanics. Unlike in most platform games, where your jump has a set arc (or, in many cases, range of possible arcs according to how long you hold the button), in Bomb Jack and Super Jagger Bomb your “jump” sees you continuing to ascend for as long as you hold the jump button. Not only that, but on the way down, you can repeatedly tap the jump button to slow your descent — though only a limited number of times in Super Jagger Bomb.

Super Jagger Bomb

While these jumping mechanics take a bit of getting used to, they’re integral to achieving high scores in both Bomb Jack and Super Jagger Bomb — and, indeed, they provide far greater mobility than a more conventional jumping mechanic. When you can ascend the height of the entire level in a single jump, nothing is ever really out of reach — so all you have to concentrate on is nabbing the bombs in the right order and, of course, avoiding the enemies.

Yes, enemies; you didn’t think Jagger was going to go unopposed, did you? In keeping with the rest of the game, the enemies in Super Jagger Bomb are largely polygonal clones of their Bomb Jack counterparts, and act in much the same way. And — are you spotting a pattern here? — as in Bomb Jack, you can eliminate all on-screen enemies and turn them into valuable point-scoring coins by collecting an occasionally appearing “P” token. In a helpful addition to the formula, a siren sounds when the “P” token is on screen in Super Jagger Bomb, so you know it might be worth pursuing it.

Both games also feature a bonus multiplier system that rewards you for repeatedly scoring points, collecting “B” tokens and nabbing the bombs in the right order, and both gradually escalate in difficulty as you proceed through their levels — primarily through enemies appearing in greater numbers and with greater frequency.

Super Jagger Bomb

Super Jagger Bomb caps things off with an online leaderboard system and the ability to practice any of its 100 stages without having to unlock them. All in all, it’s a very solid, simple arcade-style package that acts as a well-crafted homage to Bomb Jack. Indeed, as shameless a clone as it may be, it does at least demonstrate that the people behind it were very familiar with the arcade original, since if you got along well with that game you’ll be able to slide effortlessly into Super Jagger Bomb’s gameplay.

The only real criticism you might be able to level at the game — and it’s not really a criticism, more an observation — is that the whole thing has clearly been developed fairly on the cheap, using adapted pre-fabricated assets for most of its 3D objects, and relatively few backgrounds and music tracks to accompany the action.

The latter points mean that Super Jagger Bomb can start to feel a little repetitive after a while if you’re enjoying a long and successful play session — though as with all good arcade games, it’ll take a while before your individual runs are long enough for that to become an issue.

Super Jagger Bomb

I’m not going to declare Super Jagger Bomb the best retro-style arcade game you’ll ever play or anything, but it is a competently put together game, a loving homage to its source material and a rather playable little diversion that is well worth having on hand for when you fancy something simple and easily digestible to enjoy. And for £4.50 that’s nothing to complain about whatsoever.

Super Jagger Bomb is available now for PC via Steam, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4/5.

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Pete Davison
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