A promotional flyer for Bosconian.
|Composer(s)||Nobuyuki Ohnagi (Arcade ver.)
Yuzo Koshiro (X68000 ver.)
|Mode(s)||One player mode
Two player mode with alternating turns
|Cabinet||Upright, cabaret, and cocktail|
|Arcade system||Namco Galaga|
|CPU||3x ZiLOG Z80 @ 3.072 MHz|
|Sound||1x Namco WSG @ 3.072 MHz, 1x Namco 54XX @ 1.536 MHz, Discrete|
|Display||Horizontal orientation, Raster, 288 x 224 resolution|
Bosconian (ボスコニアン Bosukonian?) is a free-roaming multi-directional scrolling shooter arcade game which was developed and released by Namco in Japan in 1981. In North America, it was manufactured and distributed by Midway Games. In contrast to the more linear shooter games from its time period, Bosconian allows the player's ship to freely roam across open space which scrolls in all directions. The game also featured a radar, which tracks the position of the player's ship, the formation attacks, and the space stations. It uses Namco Galaga hardware, but with a video system like that used in Rally-X. Bosconian went on to win the 1982 Arcade Award for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Coin-Op Game in January 1983, beating both Atari Games's Gravitar and Sega's popular Zaxxon for the award.
The object of Bosconian is to score as many points as possible by destroying enemy missiles and bases. The player controls a small fighter ship that can move in eight directions, and can fire both forward and backward. Each round consists of a number of green enemy bases that must all be destroyed to advance to the next round (a semi-transparent automap helps identify their location). Each station consists of six cannons arranged in a hexagon, surrounding a central core. The player must either destroy all six cannons or shoot the core to destroy a station, and in later rounds the core is capable of defending itself (opening and closing while launching missiles).
Additionally, the player must avoid or destroy stationary asteroids, mines, and a variety of enemy missiles and ships which attempt to collide with his or her ship. Enemy bases will also occasionally launch formation attacks — destroying the leader causes all remaining enemies to disperse, but destroying all enemies in a formation scores extra bonus points. A spy ship (worth a random bonus value) will also appear occasionally, which must be destroyed or the round will go to "condition red" regardless of how long the player has taken.
Throughout the game, a digitized voice alerts the player to various events:
- "Blast off!" (start of a round)
- "Alert! Alert!" (enemies approaching)
- "Battle stations!" (formation attack)
- "Spy ship sighted!" (self-explanatory)
- "Condition red!" (enemy attacks become more aggressive; occurs when the player takes too long to clear a round, or misses the spy ship)
Like many other games that were made during the golden age of arcade video games, Bosconian does not have a definite ending, and will continue until the player has lost all of his or her lives. Similar to Galaga, Bosconian "rolls over" from Round 255 to Round 0, causing the game to behave abnormally during this round. If the player can successfully complete Round 0, the game continues to Round 1, as though the player started a new game. Also, after the first ten rounds, some of the previous rounds will repeat in placement of the space stations (the only differences are the directions of the openings in the stations, the number of asteroids and mines astray in the rounds, an increase in the number of enemy missiles needed to be fought off, and a decrease in the time before "condition red!").
Bosconian was ported to several computer systems, including the Sharp X68000, MSX, Commodore 64, and the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, and later appeared in several of Namco's Namco Museum compilations for PlayStation and other consoles. The game has also been released in Jakks Pacific's TV game controllers, and was released as part of the Pac-Man's Arcade Party arcade machine in 2010. A home computer sequel, Bosconian '87, was released in 1987 for the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, and ZX Spectrum. An arcade sequel of sorts called Blast Off was released in 1989 (but only in Japan), a vertical scrolling shooter which had more in common gameplay-wise with Namco's own Dragon Spirit than with Bosconian. This was especially noticeable in the third area of each world, when the player's ship would increase in size.
Clones of Bosconian include:
- Draconian for the TRS-80 Color Computer by Tom Mix Software, 1984.
- Azarian  for the Atari ST by Synergy Development / David Thomas Stewart, 1987.
- XKobo, 1995, now replaced by Kobo Deluxe.
Dedicated Bosconian arcade machines have become somewhat of a rarity for arcade collectors, because many of them have been converted to other, more profitable titles over the years. Galaga was the most common conversion choice for arcade owners, because it used the same basic hardware platform and wiring harness as Bosconian; the converted ones can be identified by their white and gold marquees.
The concept of a free-roaming shooter that scrolls in all directions introduced by Bosconian would inspire later shooters, including Konami's Time Pilot, and Williams Electronics' Sinistar (both 1982). Bosconian was also the first game to feature the now-standard continue screen and timer after the end of a game, giving a player who had just lost his or her last life a certain number of seconds to insert more coins and continue the game from the start of the same round. The continue feature could also be disabled entirely for arcade owners who did not want it, by changing a DIP switch setting. However, there is some debate over whether Bosconian or Tempest should be credited as the first arcade game to introduce the concept of continuing; Tempest is the older of the two games, but it did not feature a continue screen and timer. Instead, it gave the player a choice of starting from any odd-numbered level at the beginning of the game, up to the highest odd-numbered level that had currently been unlocked on the machine. If it was the same player as the previous game, then he or she could opt to "continue" by selecting the same odd-numbered level where the previous game had ended. Any future Tempest player was also free to start a new game at the higher level, though, whereas once Bosconian's continue timer expired, the next person to play had no choice but to start over at Round 1. However, if a player does choose to continue with Bosconian, his or her score will be reset back to 0.