Name: Operation Logic Bomb / Ikari No Yousei
Format: SNES
Developer: K. K. DCE
Publisher: Jaleco Ltd.
Year: 1993

This game has to be the proud purveyor of one of the worst video game titles ever1. However, it redeems itself, by being a reasonably interesting, if short game.

OLB is a top down 2D shooter, in which you control a character who can move and fire his weapons in 8 directions. A good analogy would be Smash TV, except with much more complex area layouts.

The usual cliches for a game of this type are present and correct - you begin with a rapid fire machine gun and a spread fire gun. You can switch between them pretty quickly, and there is no ammunition limit for either of them. You can hold down one of the two shoulder buttons on the SNES pad to keep facing the same direction - which means you can strafe round corners and be ready to fire, and also move away from an enemy while firing towards it. Further weapons and more interesting abilities are picked up along the way through the game.

The game appears to be set on some kind of science fiction style research station, where everything has, massively predictably, gone horribly wrong. Robots appear to have arrived, or been created and gone berserk, or something along those lines, and have decided to turn against the kind, peace loving scientists. Naturally, our nameless hero arrives to kick some cyborg ass and sort it all out. He does this by heading through a good deal of colourful2 2D levels, shooting everyone he finds there. The way that play proceeds reminds me a little of Soul Blazer, old skool RPG on the SNES - you defeat enemies in a certain part of the level, and a new bridge or something will appear allowing you to progress. However, there is something else which can seriously hinder progress - when you first enter each new area, large parts of the floor are glowing blue hexagons, as if electrified. Naturally, your cyborg enemies can move across this floor no probs... but you can't. Until you can find the generator which resides in each area, and destroy it, those parts of the floor are impassable. Usually, the course of action for each level is 1: Kill enough enemies to get to generator, 2: Destroy generator, 3: Get to new area through previously hexagoned floor, 4: Rinse & repeat.

The game may sound very average, and in some ways it is, but there are a few interesting innovations. The two new weapons and the two new special attacks you come across in the game are both required to progress and entertaining.

First comes the trademark shots bounce off walls gun. This is not only powerful, but very useful (run away from something, fire, and it will rebound off the wall go to hit them), especially when you bring diagonal firing into play. The shots bounce for 4 or 5 hits, which means you can set up some serious Ricochet attacks, and take out some enemies (like stationary turrets) without them even seeing you. This is necessary to take out a power supply unit for a door - the only way you can shoot it is through ricocheting shots.

The other pick up weapon is the flame thrower - this can also be used to take out enemies when they can't see you, because when fired round a corner, the shot will bend in a peculiar way. Again, one part of the game is set up so that only with the Flame Thrower can you destroy a door power supply. The flame thrower is the most powerful normal weapon, and it should also be mentioned that all the standard weapons (rapid fire, spread, bouncing, and flame thrower) have unlimited ammunition.

The two special abilities you pick up are very interesting - the first is very slightly reminiscent of Duke Nukem 3D, but as far as I know that was still in development in 1993. Could have been an influence for 3D Realms... The ability is a hologram of your character, when is placed somewhere, and draws enemies towards it. This leaves the real you free to kill some cyborgs, or more often to just run away. This is necessary for a part where there is two ways into a door power supply unit area, but every time you head towards one of them a barrier appears over it. The solution is to plant the hologram in front of one, confusing the computer, and then slip into the other entrance.

The final pick up is a mine, which is laid, and then explodes a few seconds later, sending a burst of fire out in the direction you were looking at the time you set it. This means if you know an enemy is coming round a corner, you can set it and run away.. the mines are also very useful for the bosses. Both the hologram and the mines have unlimited uses, but you must wait a short time between uses (so you can just place mines all over the shop).

Another interesting feature about the game is the way the story is told. In a system which is very reminiscent of System Shock 2, every so often you will come across a computer terminal, and by using it you can watch some security camera footage. This gives you the whole story of the game without printing a single character on the screen - in a sense, it's like Half-Life: "we won't tell you what's going on, we'll show you". And because of the theme of the game, it reminds me of a less detailed implementation of the logs out of SS2. Whenever you pick up a new weapon, also, you are shown some security camera footage with someone using it to defeat some enemies - again, showing rather than telling. And since this came out before either of the games I've just mentioned, I think it deserves some credit.

After a good deal of time spent in a metallic walled research base, the latter quarter of the game features you running around on the planet's surface. This is interesting because there appears to be holograph generators all over the place, altering the landscape. Destroy the generator, and the land will morph back to what it used to be. Although this isn't too impressive graphically, I think it's a nice gameplay touch.

The bosses of the game, generally giant robot creations, are, unfortunately, a little easy. Most of them can be defeated quickly, just like the normal enemies, by firing and strafing to avoid their slow shots. Only the final boss and a couple of the other mid bosses provide any real challenge, and take more than 15 seconds to defeat.

Which brings us to the most disappointing aspects of the game: the fact that it is pretty easy, and takes hardly any time to finish. Any even slightly skilled gamer should have no problems in getting through the game very quickly. I am not aware of a sequel, and I suspect that there isn't one. However, if you want something similar, try Bionic Commando, and if you want the most up to date equivalent of the genre (intelligent but still frantic shooting action) I would recommend the Metal Slug series. Sure, it isn't particularly similar, but I always recommend the Metal Slug series...

Servo5678 reminds me that Contra III: The Alien Wars has top down shooter sections, although that game beats this because it uses Mode 7 to allow moving and shooting in all directions. Infinite Directions > 8 directions, hence Contra III > Operation Logic Bomb...

1 - Well, on second thoughts, there is Plumbers Don't Wear Ties. And Wet Attack: The Empire Cums Back. I guess "Operation Logic Bomb" isn't so bad...
2 - when I say colourful, I don't mean Super Mario World style. I just mean a load of Star Trek flashing panels and stuff. Hey, this is the family friendly SNES. I think it would be a bit much to expect some sombre surroundings, even if there are a whole heap of dead scientists. If you want to be in a nice moody grey environment along with your busted up research station exploration, try System Shock 2. You won't regret it..

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