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Kaboom! - The Atari Times


It's a mad, mad, mad, mad...convict
by Darryl Brundage

October 30, 2003
This game makes me think of the (at the time) star-studded 1960s movie It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, where a dying man is found by some people, and with his final words, he tells of how a huge fortune is stashed underneath a giant letter (no, not an "M" for McDonald's, but you're close)...

...and then, with his last ounce of strength, his foot lashes out...and he literally kicks a (the) bucket.

I laughed and laughed and laughed and LAUGHED for about two minutes after that. The joke probably sounds really corny here, but it was so hilariously unexpected at the time for me.

Even though Kaboom! probably had nothing to do with that movie -- well, at least the guy with the money WAS a convict -- it involves buckets, which is why I think of it...actually Kaboom! was supposed to have been a port of the Atari game Avalanche, a Breakout-type game, with three paddles stacked on top of each other (sound familiar?), but for some reason the game would've been difficult to reproduce the boulders at the top of the screen on the 2600 (which this was either before bank-switching was discovered or became so widely used by programmers), so the game was changed around into the mega-classic that we know of today.

The game certainly has more personality this time around: instead of rows of rocks on Avalanche, you've got a ticked-off Mad Bomber. He's mad, mad, mad, all right, constantly frowning and dropping bombs down towards you. You control three buckets stacked on top of each other, which must be filled with some kind of acid, since all the bombs get instantly dissolved in the buckets, with barely a splash (don't spill any on your foot!).

The Bomber is really what makes this game, what with being one of the cutest games ever released: he frowns all the time...until you miss a bomb, which, not only will all of the remaining bombs explode, but his frown turns into a little smile...until the last bomb has detonated, and then he goes back to frowning again, if you have any buckets left. I remember my mom saying how funny it was when he smiled when I had a friend spend the night and he brought this game along.

Kaboom! is pretty much a pattern game, since it follows this formula: there's a wave of bombs, then the next one has more than the previous wave, then the one after that is faster, then the wave after that is the same speed, but with more bombs, and then it repeats itself.

Unfortunately, you get an extra bucket with every 1,000 points, but you can have no more than three buckets onscreen; if you cross a 1,000 point barrier (or multiple thereof) and you have all three buckets remaining, you're not going to get that fourth bucket.

This is the only problem I have with this simplistic, fun game, since at roughly 1,000 points you will be at THE hardest wave ever, although I think that, if you get past it, it starts all over...I don't know for sure, I've just always missed a bomb to get my third bucket, and that's been it. I could probably get past it nowadays, but I'm currently without a tv (wah!). This is why people will probably wonder why I'm not rating this game higher than I should be, but oh well, it's still very, very classic (thought I'd add an extra word or two on there, right? ).

After all, the graphics, sound effects, and controls are great, and the game was ported to pretty much every system around at the time, and is included with the Activision Anthology game even nowadays; heck, there's even an amusing story about how Kaboom! got more attention than Halo when a guy was playing it at a store once! So snag a copy already if you don't already have one, although it's very common, especially since I got my copy for only 25 cents.

Pretty sly of Activision there, and it resulted in one of the more original, clever, yet simplistic games of all time.


(c) Activision

It's the mad, mad, mad bomber!
It looks this sparse on the 5200 too.
System: 2600
Publisher: Activision
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 95%
Sound & Music Score: 100%
Gameplay Score: 90%
Control Score: 85%

Final Score: 80%

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