Aside from the first-party, Nintendo-made titles, the Super Nintendo library is a lot like reaching into a bag of snack mix. You gotta reach down deep in there, beneath the Timecop pretzels and the Robocop vs. Terminator cheese crackers, down to the Zombies Ate My Neighbors breadsticks and the Out of This World rye chips, and every now and then, you reach in and pull out a cashew that had all the seasoning stick to it and almost makes up for all the other crap in the bag. That being said, Jaleco’s Operation Logic Bomb is very much that cashew; it won’t fill you up, but it’s quite good while it lasts.
The story is more than a little clichéd, you’re a bionically enhanced soldier sent to go investigate a laboratory that’s dropped off the grid, and indeed, when you first arrive, the power is out and nobody is milling about, but sure enough, after finding a robot crab leeching off a generator, and blowing it into crab scraps (mmmm…crab scraps), the lab springs back to life, and the game reveals itself as a high-octane shoot-’em-up that plays like a cross between Smash T.V. and the aforementioned Zombies Ate My Neighbors.
You start out with two weapons, a lead-vomiting, rapid fire gun that only fires in a straight line, and a slower-firing, shorter-ranged gun that fires in a spread pattern. As you progress through the game, you’ll find a laser that ricochets off walls and is good for frantic battles or firing from behind cover, a flamethrower that devastates most enemies but has no effect on certain ones, and a homing missile that you’ll have to really scour the area for, but without it, you’re gonna be in for a rough time later. There are also two items to be found, a holographic decoy you can use to distract enemies and a claymore mine that will explode in the direction you were facing when you set it. In a very cool touch, when you find a new weapon, a quick demo video plays showing you how to use your new toy.
In fact, the entire story plays out through a series of similar in-engine cutscenes, triggered either by happening upon evidence of what happened in the lab or by bumping into computer terminals that activate as you cleanse the area of baddies. There’s no speech or text dialogue, everything that needs to come across is done visually, and they’ve done a decent enough job of explaining the story through this weird pantomime format; basically, scientists have caused gaping rifts in the space-time continuum, called dimensional errors here, and through these gaps come the robot crabs. Some terminals you’ll come across tell a little bit of the story, some refill your health, some activate teleport pads that whisk you across the facility, and some provide a map similar to the terminals in Super Metroid, that shows you both the area layout as well as if any teleporters or terminals have become active.
Visually, everything’s rather impressive for 1993. Your character is nice-sized and distinguishable from the enemies, the enemies, most notably the red and gold sentries, look a bit Power Rangers-ish, but still are fine, and the dimensional rifts are drawn to look like empty space with a smattering of hexagons, and there’s a very cool effect that occurs when you fix the errors as the game re-renders the land that was supposed to be there, as well as a psychedelic landscape as you near the very end of the game and travel to the other dimension. All the weapons have a different projectile design, and you’ll be seeing plenty of explosions as you blast your way through the experiment gone wrong.
Everything operates fairly smoothly here. B fires your weapon, Y uses a special item, and X and A cycle through your items and weapons, respectively, very similar to the inventory system in ZAMN, but I think it works a little better here seeing as you only have a handful of weapons to cycle through, instead of having to click through a dozen weapons just to find that damned bubble gun. You can strafe by holding down one of the shoulder buttons, which locks you facing a direction while still having free range of motion, and you WILL be using this move quite a lot, because despite the relatively quick pace of the action, going gung-ho will get you blown to hell, and you’d be well-advised to use cover and get creative with the capabilities of your arsenal. Both you and the enemies can fire in eight directions, so you won’t have too many situations where you have to expose yourself to fire just to line up a shot, although, and this is probably just me being terrible at the game, I cannot tell you how many times I tried to evade enemy fire and wound up running into bullets, to the point there were times it looked like I was doing it on purpose.
I don’t have a lot of complaints about this game, but I have two issues that I have to discuss. Number one, this game is SHORT. How short? I popped this in with a World Cup game playing as background noise and I finished the game BEFORE the World Cup game finished…with time to spare. And it’s not like I went into this game with a walkthrough or map at the ready, no, I beat this game blind in about an hour and a half, and that included me having to figure out that the same teleporter will take you to more than one location, fumbling around to find the secret passage to find the homing missiles, and a couple deaths in boss fights, and speaking of deaths, there are no save points, passwords, or even continues, so you have to beat this in one sitting with but a handful of lives…
Which brings me to my second major problem, which is that, if you DIDN’T snag the homing missiles, the final two boss fights escalate from “tough yet manageable” to “secret love child of Mega Man 1 and Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins”. The penultimate boss has the ability to turn the ability to create a bullet hell very similar to a Gradius game (complete with projectiles that fire near you and then turn into MORE bullets that can change direction to track you), while the final boss gets assisted by a neverending supply of enemies that explode upon contact with you, which takes away a hefty chunk of your health bar, and a lightning attack that’s triggered whenever you damage its weak point, and that lightning will rip through your life bar like a hot knife through butter. I can only imagine someone playing this when it was new, never even knowing there were homing missiles at all, and attempting to slog their way through the last two bosses, only to be met with frustration and despair.
In the end, Operation Logic Bomb’s not a bad game by any stretch of the word, but it is a little unsatisfying. The mechanics are fine, there’s some fast-paced fun to be had, and it looks and sounds pretty damn good, especially for the time. Unfortunately, it’s so short, that if I didn’t know better, I’d swear this was actually a demo version to get you excited for the full version coming in the future, and the most important pickup in the game is hidden so well that you might not even know it existed in the first place. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going out of your way to give it a try, but, if you’re trying to kill an hour or so (well, probably less), I can think of a lot worse ways to do so.
Solid play control, just enough variety of weapons and level design for a game of its length, nice use of in-engine cutscenes
REALLY short, and the very end of the game depends on finding an item you may not know exists.