Operation Logic Bomb

There are games that fly under the radar for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes they get lost in the hype of more anticipated titles.  The publisher might have done a terrible job with its marketing.  And then there are games with awful box art.  Everyone remembers Kemco’s Phalanx for its non-sensical box art depicting a banjo playing hill billy that has nothing to do with the shooter within.  But Jaleco might have been an even worse offender.  Rival Turf used the least threatening teenagers to depict its adult protagonists.  The box art for Tuff Enuff is……special.  Operation Logic Bomb tried to be different with its comic book style box art but it isn’t the slightest bit interesting.  Judging by the game’s low profile I’m not alone in that assessment.  But it is a shame as the game is actually pretty good.

At a hidden research facility the scientist’s experiments with inter-dimensional technology go awry.  Rather than harnessing unlimited energy it instead opens a gateway from which mysterious creatures emerge.  When all contact with the lab is lost defense forces are dispatched.  Unfortunately their plane is shot down, leaving cyborg agent Hiro to investigate alone. 

The game tries to use environmental storytelling to elaborate its plot.  It is only mildly successful.  Scattered throughout the game are terminals that play recorded videos of the events that transpired before your arrival.  These are vague and give the basic gist but fail to be compelling.  Not every game can be a Super Metroid I guess.

Operation Logic Bomb is actually the third title in the Ikari no Yousai series.  Only two games were released in the US; this and the early Gameboy release Fortified Zone.  All ties between the games were removed but overall little was lost.  For its time Fortified Zone was pretty unique as a new IP for the Gameboy and one of its best games early on.  Although we didn’t receive its direct sequel in the US Jaleco would expand its gameplay for this 16-bit release, creating an enjoyable if brief shooter.

At the outset things are tough.  You have a machine gun and a spread gun both of which have their flaws.  The machine gun fires in a straight line while the spread gun has short range.   Eventually you will find three more to enhance your firepower. Each differs in its strengths and weaknesses but more importantly remain somewhat viable until the end.  Some enemies are even immune to particular weapons, making you switch when necessary.

The R-Laser is the first upgrade and while novel will not see much use.  Its shots can bounce off walls, useful for destroying inaccessible security consoles but not much else.  The tracking missiles are one of the last items found and requires some backtracking.  It’s worth it as its projectiles do exactly what the name suggests.  For my money though the flamethrower is the best weapon in the game.  It’s powerful, hits multiple enemies and wraps around corners too.  Two additional special items show up late in the game.  The Decoy unit creates a transparent clone that can draw enemy fire.  The claymore mine…is a mine.  What more do you want?  Both can be used as weapons but are also needed for progress.

While primarily a top down shooter Operation Logic Bomb is not entirely linear.  Each part of the complex is its own little area with a map and teleport pods to get around.  As you explore you’ll come across generators that need destroying to restore the facility to its original state.  Sometimes access is barred and requires a special item.  Sometimes they simply require all enemies be destroyed.  In some ways it is reminiscent of Zelda or Metroid but that is as far as the comparison goes.  Although there is some backtracking the game isn’t completely open.  There are no branching paths and little room to deviate from the set path to the game’s conclusion.

Operation Logic Bomb might seem overly difficult but is actually rather easy.  The opening areas might be a little tricky since your weapon selection is limited.  The lack of any health power-ups also makes it particularly rough.  But that lasts about ten minutes or so before you receive the flamethrower.  Despite its medium range the flamethrower is almost game breaking as it damages multiple enemies simultaneously and wraps around corners.  Health terminals become more frequent you progress making the journey easier.  Even the few boss battles pose little challenge.  One life and three continues might seem limited however the game is short enough that it is appropriate.

That would be its one major flaw.  At most Operation Logic Bomb will take most players less than two hours to complete.  The short length means the game’s cooler weapons and equipment are barely used.  The Decoy unit is a cool tool that could have been used to fool enemies or set up puzzles.  But outside of one instance where it is needed to fool a barrier you never need it.  Mines are a late game pick up but are only used to destroy a single wall a minute later.  Its scenarios like these that hint at what could have been if the game were longer.

That being said I really like Operation Logic Bomb.  I just wish there were more content.  It has all the mechanics to make a truly great top down shooter but is let down by its brevity.  It is still worth buying but comes second to the true classics of the genre like Super Smash TV and Pocky and Rocky.

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