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Canyon Bomber - The Atari Times

Canyon Bomber

by Darryl Brundage

September 30, 2006
I originally played this game a few times in the 70s, then when my mom got me and my sister a 2600 years later, that was the third game I got (although I got the Sears version, having the idiotic cover with the guy about to drop a bomb by hand from his airplane; say what?). I got to finally play this game again at a gaming expo in 2005 (since I wasn't about to do this by a nearly 20 year old memory when I could barely remember this original game anyway) and how it stood up as a game by itself.

Well, you can't get much simpler than THIS: is this the only game ever made where your entire control panel consists of only ONE button? No joysticks, no flight controller, steering wheel, nothing else, just a button. (The Twilight Zone episode [the 80s version, not the original, nor the millennium version] "Button, Button" comes to mind...)

In this game, you must bomb a canyon for maximum points, for some reason. The targets in the canyon have numbers inside of them, indicating how many points they're worth; the lower they are in the canyon, the more they're worth. Part of the artwork on the cabinet shows soldiers, so I assume the military has something to do with all the money being used for bombing runs and all. (I guess you have to practice your bombing technique in case an armed canyon were to ever attack Washington, D. C. [God forbid], or some kind of an evil parking lot.) The computer will play along with you if you only selected one player, just in case a second player decided to run off and play Mountain Bomber, Molehill Bomber, or Giant Ant Hill Bomber instead.

The game starts off with blimps that slowly pass by the screen as you and the other player drop bombs into the canyon; at first there's no way to miss at all, but as more and more...uh, things (whatever they are) get destroyed, you have more of a chance to miss, which will count against you. Miss a certain number of times (I think the game room operator could choose between three and six misses) and your game -- and possibly military career -- is over. Go back to throwing rocks in a pond...

After a while, your aircraft turns into a small, fast-moving plane, making the game more difficult. Worse yet, though, is the blasted artwork gets in the way on the right side of the screen: you can't SEE the damn canyon on that side, and there are targets there! I thought that possibly this was because, when I first played the game [what seems like] eons ago, I was too short to see the whole screen. Not so, as I'm a bit taller than the game all these years later. That's like the video game system Vectrex overlays getting in the way (personally I've never had a problem with them, though, but some Vectrex owners don't like, nor use them). Maybe if you pressed your forehead or nose to the monitor you'd be able to see down, but I didn't think of this until after I left the expo...plus I'd be looking pretty weird, too. (Kid: "Daddy, what's that man DOING?" Daddy: "Uhhhh..." [maces me])

The game's ok, there's obviously not much to it, it's not that exciting. The graphics were good for back then, as were the thundering explosions (but other than that, it doesn't have much sound), and with just THE one button, control is no problem at all. But you're better off with the Canyon Bomber cartridge, as it's got a version of Sea Bomber on it, which is a bit like Atari's Destroyer coin-op. Now THAT'S intense!!

Hmmmm, Giant Ant Hill Bomber...you know, that probably would've made a more interesting game.

Canyon Bomber

(c) Atari

Why would you want to bomb a canyon anyway?
It's ASCII graphics baby!
Canyon Bomber
System: Arcade
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Shooter
Graphics Score: 75%
Sound & Music Score: 75%
Gameplay Score: 65%
Control Score: 100%

Final Score: 65%

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