Like many retro classics, the premise of Bomb Jack is absurdly simple - with the emphasis on 'absurd'. You assume the role of Jack [oh right, phew! - Jack] whose mission is to travel the world via a serious of single platform-laden screens (the backgrounds and enemies let you know where you are) in search of bombs which need defusing. To aid you in this quest you have the ability to jump from platforms, along with a gravity defying cape which allows you to effectively slide through the air.
Stacked against you are a series of unlikely enemies (ranging from snails and mummies to flying saucers and flying hieroglyphics), whose merest touch is sufficient to stop you in your tracks and forfeit a precious life. Unless you've been lucky enough to catch a power-up disc which temporarily turns the tables.
If you're struggling to grasp the premise, think of a sort of vertical Pac-Man with less barriers and more gravity and you'll be on the right lines. Indeed, like Pac-Man, the game is essentially a challenge of basic strategy and lightning reactions. Unlike the yellow gobbler however there's a little more variety to the screens and enemies and a good deal more subtlety on offer in the control system as you modify your super leaps about the screen, changing direction in mid-air to dodge a villain.
For our money this makes it a far more enjoyable game, and with the bursts of action divided into multiple levels it's ideal for the mobile platform. Add in some visuals that are more than faithful to the Spectrum and C64 originals and you've got all the ingredients for an essential mobile game.
Where the whole thing falls down is with the hardware. The controller on the GX-10 simply didn't offer the required sensitivity in the heat of the action, too often leading to an unfair demise or an accidental brush of a selection button bringing up the menu screen and although the situation was improved slightly on other handhelds, there were still concerns.
Hence the ultimate decision will depend upon your confidence in your digital dexterity. If your joypad is as sensitive as all those women on TV advertising toothpaste then Bomb Jack is an absolute must. The rest of you might want to save yourself the frustration and buy a sandwich instead. Just remember to brush afterward.
6 / 10