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RAM Requirement: 2 meg RAM
Control: Keyboard and/or Joystick
Release Status: Freeware
Year: 1995 - 2015
Publisher: Ninja Force
Developers: Ninja Force
System 6 Compatible: Yes
Hard Drive Installable: Yes
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Kaboom! is a faithful, although also unique, reproduction of the classic console game Bomberman.
Between the talents of Jesse Blue for coding, Clue for the graphics and Dreamer for the sound and music, this is IIGS gaming that really pushes the limits of the machine to give you a truly 16-bit console gaming experience. System requirements are relatively demanding - you'll need a IIGS with at least 2 meg of RAM, high capacity storage (either hard drive or compact flash card solution - just having a 3.5" disk drive won't cut it) and highly advised, an accelerator (either a Transwarp GS or ZipGS) to ensure gameplay remains smooth. But it's all totally worth it - Jesse Blue's coding ensures there's almost no waiting between screens and that game play and visuals are fast and smooth. Clue's graphics are truly exceptional - making the absolute most of the limitations of 320 mode super hi-res graphics, using multiple palettes and colour cycling. Dreamer's music is additionally great, and given we now know that NinjaTracker was used, it's also great to know that Dreamer did what he did within the 64k sound data limitation of the IIGS's Ensoniq, and that also had to allow for the data of sound effects as well!
Onto the game itself: the single player 'Blockbuster' mode is old-school unforgiving and fiendishly hard. This is refreshing given the easy going climate of games produced today – the game poses a real challenge which you'll need to practise to master. The opening 'Beginning' levels make sure you understand and appreciate the underlying strategies of the game that only by passing yourself could you ever hope to conquer the 'Mastermind' levels (or take on multi-player games). Being a father now, I'm grateful that since version 1.0.1 of the game, it remembers that you've completed the 'Beginning' levels so you don't have to complete them every time you restart the game just to play the 'Mastermind' levels, which is what happened with the original release. Level 4 is fiendishly hard, I find, and it not only takes strategy and an accurate trigger finger, but also luck as to how those nasties will behave on the level.
Moving on from the single player arena, the multiplayer options are a hell of a lot of fun too. Even my wife's been a little addicted playing against me. The computer AI is incredibly good and difficult to beat. It's so good in fact, it sometimes takes the IIGS down with a freeze / crash. Hopefully those AI bugs can be worked around, but if you've got at least 2 human players, then you don't need any AI players at all thanks to loads of configuration options as to how you can setup multiplayer games. This made gameplay rock solid for us, not including any AI players.
To really test how well the AI works I like to setup all 4 computer players for a multi-player game and let them slug it out. It would be a great addition to the 'attract' mode of the game, which currently plays the animated NinjaForce logo (complete with realtime bump maps!) and title intro to Kaboom! if after a short period of inacitivty, it would randomly pick a level and initiate a 4 player computer game. I love the 'attact' modes of games, as they function beautifully as a screen saver and the IIGS could benefit with a lot more of them for classic games (the Taito games aren't too shabby in that regard, nor is DuelTris).
All I can say is enjoy this long awaited title, and thank the hard work of Ninjaforce, who've developed this title on and off over the last 20 years. It's releases like this that make our Apple II retro computing hobby so enjoyable! And I would have paid for the experience, yet NinjaForce is giving it away for free!
You can download a disk image for use with emulators, or to get it to a storage device your IIGS can use (the CFFA3000 makes this easy, as you can simply copy the disk image to your compact flash or USB based storage and mount the disk image from there). Or, you can play the game right inside your browser if you have the FTA's ActiveGS plug-in installed in your preferred browser.
Hope you all have a blast! Pun intended!