time to take a look at another game from one of the greatest and most
overlooked systems of all time: The Intellivision. Last time, I
showed you one of the oddest games ever released for the system, "White
Water!"... this time I wanna take a look at another
fairly strange one:
Bombers! The game itself was another one of Intellivision's
answers to the many arcade hits at the time; in this case,
Centipede. The idea is fairly simple, bees are attacking and it's
up to you to stop them. While the game didn't require the use of any
of the numbers on the pad, it still came with an
first thing you notice upon booting up the game is the impressive
digitized version of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's classic "Flight of
the Bumblebee" tune. Also of note is the nice way that the bees
buzz around and eventually form the "Buzz Bombers" title text. Not too
shabby for a game all the way back in 1983, eh?
you are, in your garden and a bunch of bees are buzzing their way down
towards you. So what's your defense against these buzz bombers?
can. Yes, you ARE a spray can... not some guy holding a
spray can. I think this marks the first time in history that the hero
character of a game is in fact, a can of bug spray. Well, spray can or
not, you've got some mighty foes headed your way.
yellow bees are "worker bees" and they're fast, but not too fast. The
white ones, however, are "killer bees" and they blaze down the screen
and it's not too easy to hit them without wasting a bunch of the spray
in your can.
spray a bee, it will "magically" turn into a tasty golden honeycomb. I say
"magically" because that's exactly how the back of the game box
explains this transformation. In real life, spraying a bee would
probably kill it - and possibly make it sting you in a final act of
buzzing rage. In Buzz Bombers, however, spraying a bee makes it swirl around
and turn into a honey comb. If you you manage to spray one of the speedy white
killer bees, it will "magically" turn into a
Why it doesn't turn into a white one is beyond me, I guess the
designers figured the color red suits the "killer bees" better. But
if that's true, then why didn't they make the actual killer bees red too? My friends, we may
never know the truth behind this great mystery.
way, I think Honeycomb cereal missed out on a major advertising tie-in
opportunity with this game. I have read that the makers of "Raid" bug
spray were approached about it, but I suppose nothing ever came of
that either. Fools...
are these honeycombs for? Well, that's where this little fella comes
Hummingbird. She flies randomly around the screen during your game,
and if she stops on top of a honeycomb, she'll eat it and you'll get
some extra points. If she stops on top of a red one you'll get even
more points. Sounds good right? Well if you ask me, it's not. All too
often, I'll be just about to shoot a bee, when the hummingbird will
fly directly into my line of fire. It's not too bad on the early
levels, but the game gets faster as you go on, and that's when she
becomes more of a nuisance than an ally. So what can you do about it?
her until she becomes sick! Something about making the hummingbird so
ill that she turned green and had to leave the screen (presumably to
puke) always made me laugh when I was a kid. While it doesn't kill
her, it does get rid of her for a while. But keep in mind, each can
you have has a limited amount of spray in it, and making her sick uses
up a lot of it. So if you want your game to last longer, try to save
your spray and let her do her hummingbird thing.
touch in Buzz Bombers was that, in a repetitive game like this, they
understood that people liked to be rewarded for doing well. So, just
like in all of the Pac-Man games, they added in some cut-scenes in
between some of the levels. In fact, this is the only game on the Intellivision system that I remember having cut scenes at all. In the
first cut-scene (after level 5) we see a little bear cub being chased
across the screen by some angry bees. In the second cut-scene (after
level 10) we see the cub being chased across the screen again, but
this time, the momma bear steps in and chases the bees away. Again,
really solid animation considering how long ago the game was made. It
also serves as some extra rest for your fingers which will be sore
from pressing the same button over and over and over and over again.
there's only one way you can really lose the game: you run out of
spray cans. You can get extra cans at 20,000, 40,000 and 80,000
points. But after that, you only get extra cans every 80,000 points.
While each can holds 56 shots before it's completely used up, believe
me, you'll need every one of those shots in the later levels as the
game becomes impossibly difficult. One of the best ways to score a lot
of points for extra cans is to get a worker bee "stuck" between one of
the sides of the screen and a honeycomb. When this happens, a worker
bee will form a
bee hive... and as long as you
don't spray the bee hive with your can, you'll rack up some nice
points once you complete the level.
thing that can screw you up big time is the bees pollinating the
flowers at the bottom of the screen. The more flowers they pollinate,
the less range of motion your spray can has. Eventually, they can fill
up the entire bottom of the screen. While this doesn't kill you, it
makes you lose a can AND you have to start the level over from
the more amusing things from the history of this game is that there
was a mix-up in the art/packaging department. You see, the game is
only meant for one player, but on the back of thousands of the
original boxes, it said "1 or 2 can play". So what did Mattel do to
fix this problem? They literally took a black marker to the tens of
thousands of boxes and crossed out the "1 or 2 can play" text by hand.
That's why you'll see those markings on many of the copies of Buzz
Bomber that are up for sale on eBay. Imagine the excitement of being
hired by a video game company, only to find out that they want you to
use a marker (or as Mattel would say, a "magic" marker) to scratch out
a typo on thousands of their game boxes.
end, Buzz Bombers is one of the more memorable games from the
old Intellivision system if for no other reason than constantly
hearing a synthesized version of "Flight of the Bumblebee" throughout the
game. Oh and if you think it's one of those games that goes on forever
and you can't win it, well... you're wrong. According to the manual: "Once you get 1,000,000
points, the scoring begins at zero again. At the end of each game you
will see a number over the flower bed. This tells you how many times
you have reached 1,000,000. You may reach 1,000,000 a total of 255
times...for a possible score of 255,999,900."
yeah... lemme know how that works out for you.
Questions or Comments about this piece?
Want a look at
another bizarre Intellivision classic?
Then check out my review of:
want to learn more about the classic Intellivision system and all the
other fun games that were made for it, check out the
Intellivision Lives web site!
There's even a few free games up for download on their site. If you
want to play "Buzz Bombers" though, you'll have to pickup the "Intellivision
Lives" CD which I highly recommend. Still if you're cheap, there's
also an Intellivision emulator out there called "Bliss" which you can
find pretty easily on Google along with a variety of games for it,
including Buzz Bombers!