Sunday 5 June 2016

Bomb Squad (Intellivision review)

Developer: Mattel
Publisher: Mattel
Released: 1982

Bomb Squad is an action game that requires use of the Intellivoice Voice Synthesis Module.

Your mission is to disarm a bomb within 30 minutes that's been planted by an evil terrorist. To do this you listen to instructions given by a disposal expert using the module's speech capabilities. The main objective is to figure out the bomb code which can range from 1-3 digits. Each digit is contained within a 4x5 grid and by repairing circuit boards one element of the grid will either light up or stay blank; this then allows you to guess the exact digit by its visual shape. The circuit repair screens make up the majority of the game and you replace parts using Cutters, Pliers or a Soldering Iron. The expert gives detailed instructions and you simply have to carry them out in the correct order. The game makes clever use of the Intellivision controller and while the button placement is awkward it works great once you get the hang of it. Trying to figure out the code is really enjoyable and I love that you don't have to be perfectly accurate when placing pieces onto the board. Dropping the wrong piece is terrifying though thanks to the sped up music and the fact that the bomb timer accelerates! It intensifies the action as you're constantly aware of the clock due to either a mistake or the voice samples that occasionally let you know how much time is remaining. The Intellivoice is crucial to the entire experience and I was impressed with its capabilities and how it smartly integrates with the gameplay. It completely guides you in everything you're doing (e.g. telling you how to approach each circuit board, or letting you know if you're slightly out of alignment when placing chips) and the clear voice samples have lots of personality.

Bomb Squad is a fantastic game that all Intellivision owners should experience and it's worth the price of the voice module alone. Compared to most other titles of its time it's incredibly advanced as it seamlessly blends multiple genres together to create some truly captivating gameplay.

Random trivia: The game manual has an error when detailing what digits make up the number seven! (5th column, 3rd row is incorrectly lit up).

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