At the dawn of gaming, when every last byte was squeezed out of the hardware and buying a 4K RAM Pack would set you back the cost of a small car, games were very simple. Yes, we're going way, way back with this next one, all the way back to 1977. A time when the average retro gamer had a choice of Asteroids, Adventureland (the first Scott Adams' adventure) or... Canyon Bomber. What do you mean, you've never heard of it?!
Just kidding. Of course you've never heard of it. Heck, I've never heard of it. 1977 was before even my time. So Trickysoft's new game for the BBC is one hell of a museum-piece: if you think of the marvellous Stunt Car Racer and Prince Of Persia BBC ports as the very pinnacle of BBC homebrew, well this is to trace back along the mountain path to the very beginning of the trail.
Don't expect flashy graphics, don't expect much in the way of sound. Canyon Bomber is a simplistic single-screen, two-player game. The bottom half of the screen shows the outline of a hole (the "canyon") which is filled with golden coins (of the 8x8 CHR$ variety). The upper half of the screen shows a completely empty blue sky. Empty, that is, but for two planes which slide left and right.
You play Canyon Bomber by tapping a single key to release a bomb which glides down into the canyon and, hopefully, collides with some coins. Each player aims to hit more coins than the other and coins fall if unsupported, meaning that the amount of coins in the canyon falls lower and lower until it becomes almost impossible to hit any of them. When a player has not hit a single coin on four occasions that he's loosed his bomb, he is out. The aim of the game is to gain a higher score than your opponent.
You can play either against a friend or against the computer. The former option is, by far, the better choice as the computer's AI is laughable and I beat it every single time.
The trouble is that, friend or no friend, this game is totally boring. About the best you can say about Canyon Bomber is that playing it really does feel like going back in time. But I'd liken its feeling of going back in time to buying a clapped out VHS recorder, spending an afternoon wiring it up to an old CRT and then finding out that no matter what tracking (ooh, yes, remember that?) you set it to, you're still faced with a bar of fuzz at either the top or bottom of the picture whenever you stick an old cassette in it. That's about the level of 'fun' you're talking here.
The conversion isn't bad - it's another one of Trickysoft's famous 'dump-and-tweak-of-the-original-arcade-machine-rom' projects. It's just that the game is so, so, so dull to play that I find it hard to believe anyone ever pumped a single dime into its arcade counterpart.
OK, it might tickle your history bone if you're in your Sixties and you remember this machine standing in the corner of the 7-11. But, if you compare Canyon Bomber to even the very earliest BBC Model B games released, it still comes out the loser. Play one of those instead.