Review by Retro

Reviewed: 04/28/01 | Updated: 05/13/03

One word: addicting

I haven't seen many video games that have a title that describes the gameplay as well as this one. Kaboom! (it actually has an exclamation point in its title) features a crook who calls himself the ''Mad Bomber.'' He's dressed in pinstripes, a bandit's mask, and he has a sad frown stuck on his face. He has a fetish for dropping bomb after bomb after bomb from the top of the screen to the bottom, in an attempt to make them fall down and go KABOOM!

The Mad Bomber seems to have enough bombs to blow up the entire planet! The world's only hope rests in your hands. Three vertically aligned buckets at the bottom of the screen wouldn't amount to much against deadly bombs, but when they're filled with water, they can put out the fiery fuses. Upon plugging in your paddle controller and pressing the button, the bomber will slowly move horizontally as he drops several bombs in a row. All you can do is move your buckets left and right and try to catch each one. If you happen to miss catching a single bomb and it reaches the bottom of the screen, it will set off a crackling chain reaction that illuminates your television set with the successive explosions. While this may get you in the mood to go shoot some fireworks, it won't help your gaming spirits, because one of your buckets are now gone (lose all three buckets and it's game over time)! Even worse, what was once a depressing frown on the face of the bomber is now a mischievous grin. Seeing that smirk has a way of making your face flush with anger and revenge.

You don't want to let that bloody bomber win, do you? That's right! Now go get him! That's what's special about Kaboom! It's downright addicting. The game is hard as hell. It starts off slow, but once you get past just a few levels, it becomes rocket fast, to say the very least. I'm amazed that anything on the Atari 2600 can move as quickly as those bombs fall! You only play the game to see how high of a score you can obtain, but doing that is so addicting it's beyond words. Let's say you just finish a game in which you only made it to level three and you racked up about two hundred points. You'll be frustrated, because you just know that you can do better than that! The next game, you make it to stage four with 350 points. Same story. You know you can do better, and you won't stop until you do! That's Kaboom! in a nutshell.

The makers of Kaboom! tried to be funny, and it didn't work. In a game where getting 1000 points is an incredible accomplishment, they made it where you can use the difficulty switch on the console to make the buckets smaller, as if using the regular sized ones would be too easy for anybody. But that's the one and only downfall of Kaboom! There's a two-player option included for taking turns going against the Mad Bomber with a friend, but that's it. There are no variations that allow you to slow the game down, speed it up, make the buckets invisible (that idea would bomb anyway), to have two bombers, or anything else.

Sharp graphics that show such details as water splashing from the buckets and bombs whose fuses flicker in a lifelike manner are great to see in an Atari 2600 cart. Those splashes and sizzling fuses sound pretty realistic as well. But, just like there's not much variety to the visuals, there are not many sounds to be heard. As proof, the only other sound apart from the two I mentioned is the sound of bombs exploding. There's not a bit of music in the game.

But the lack of sounds and visuals does nothing at all to hurt the game. Of all the games I own, Kaboom! is the one I think of first when I hear the word, ''addicting.'' If there were a such thing as an illustrated dictionary that had an example of each word, a picture of Kaboom! would be placed beside both addicting and addictive. Kaboom! is probably more addicting than cigarettes are to a person who has been smoking for 20 years. All the elements of fun, frustration, and excitement come together as one to make Kaboom! one of the most addicting games of all time. Oh yeah, did I mention that it's addicting?

Rating: 8

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