Kaboom! was an Activision classic for the Atari 2600 in 1981 that pit players against a black masked and prison striped Mad Bomber. It was pure, scoring fun that was tough, brutal, yet strangely addicting. It also shows some a bit of that Activision quality back in the day with great sound effects and challenging action.
Lurking at the top of the screen, he’d would drop a chain of bombs, one by one, down to the bottom where you had to catch them with buckets of water. The “buckets” looked like large, brown pies, and you started out with three of them stacked atop each other. Using the Atari 2600’s paddle controllers, you moved this waterlogged column from side to side as the Mad Bomber dropped his explosive treats while doing the same thing, zig-zagging at the top of the screen.
The game actually gets harder the worse you do. If any one bomb hit the bottom, all of them went of in a chain reaction and you’d lose a bucket shortening the column and your ability to snag any wayward bombs. After smiling at your failure, the bomber would slow down a bit to give you a fighting chance, but speed back up again with a longer sequence as you continued to beat him back. Scoring was as simple as catching these things, and the Mad Bomber would progressively get faster and faster n dropping his toys.
There was no real end, only sheer attrition at seeing how well, and how far, you could actually get. If you made it over 3000 points and took a screenshot the old fashioned way (with a camera) and sent it to Activision, you’d become a member of the Activision Bucket Brigade and get an actual Bucket Brigade patch. Now that was fan service!
The Mad Bomber leers at players in this ad for the Atari 2600 version of the game though it doesn’t describe the neat sound effects that it had. It would go on to appear on the Atari 8-bit computer and the 5200 to break the will of even more players, yet for many, having it on the 2600 was good enough.