Kaboom! (video game)

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Not to be confused with Kaboom: The Suicide Bombing Game.
Developer(s) Activision
Publisher(s) Activision
Designer(s) Larry Kaplan
Platform(s) Atari 2600 (original)
Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit
Release Atari 2600 Atari 8-bit Atari 5200
  • NA: 1983
Genre(s) Action
Mode(s) Single player, Two players

Kaboom! is an Activision video game published in 1981 for Atari 2600 that was designed by Larry Kaplan. David Crane coded the overlaid sprites.[1] It was well-received and successful commercially, selling over one million cartridges by 1983.[2]

Kaboom! is an unauthorized adaptation of the 1978 Atari coin-op Avalanche.[3] The gameplay of both games is fundamentally the same, but Kaboom! was re-themed to be about a mad bomber instead of falling rocks. As an ex-Atari programmer, Larry Kaplan, originally wanted to port Avalanche to the Atari 2600. In Avalanche all the boulders are lined up at the top which is difficult to accomplish on the 2600, hence the shift to the Mad Bomber.


Kaboom! on the Atari 2600

The game is similar to Avalanche in concept, but instead of there being a pre-existing set of rocks across the top of the screen that randomly fall, a character known as the "Mad Bomber" moves back and forth randomly dropping bombs. As the game progresses, the Mad Bomber traverses the top of the screen much more erratically, dropping bombs at increasingly higher speeds, making each of the seven higher levels more difficult.

The player uses a paddle controller to move buckets back and forth near the bottom of the screen to catch the bombs before they reach the bottom. The player starts with multiple buckets arranged over each other, which makes it more likely to catch the bombs in one of them. If the player fails to catch a bomb, it explodes, along with any other bombs still on the screen in a chain reaction from bottom to top. This also causes one of the buckets to disappear, the game ending when the player loses the last one. Points are awarded for every bomb caught, and extra buckets (maximum of three) are awarded at every 1,000 points.

While the Mad Bomber is dropping bombs, he has an unhappy face. If the player misses and a bomb is dropped, he smiles while the bombs on the screen explode. The game manual mentions that something "special" will happen after 10,000 points. When the player reaches that score threshold, the Mad Bomber's face appears surprised/upset, even if the player drops a bomb.

When Kaboom! was originally sold, anyone who scored above 3,000 points could send Activision a picture of his or her television screen to receive membership in the Activision Bucket Brigade and a Bucket Brigade patch.


Review score
Publication Score
AllGame 4.5/5 stars[4]

Contemporary critical reception was positive with Kaboom! winning an award for "Best Audio-Visual Effects" at the 3rd annual Arkie Awards. Arkie Award judges characterized the game as "a feast for the eyes and ears" and commented that Activision had "hit the mark dead-center again with 'Kaboom!'". While the game concept was described as rather similar to that of Avalanche, Kaboom! was found to have such presentational elan that it was hailed as an "instant classic".[5]:76 The game was also covered in Video magazine's 1982 Guide to Electronic Games where it was praised for its "exceptional" graphics and "lightning-quick" gameplay.[6]:52

Kaboom! has come to be considered a "classic" Atari 2600 game. Allgame editor Scott Alan Marriott described Kaboom! as "...one of those games that you'll put away for a while, pick up every now and then, and play for hours at a time".[4]



  1. ^ Yarusso, Albert. "Kaboom!". Atari Age. Archived from the original on 2 February 2006. Retrieved 2006-01-25. 
  2. ^ Buchanan, By Levi. "Top 10 Best-Selling Atari 2600 Games". IGN. Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  3. ^ Stilphen, Scott. "DP Interviews ... Larry Kaplan". www.digitpress.com. Digital Press Online. 
  4. ^ a b Marriott, Scott Alan. "Kaboom! - Review". Allgame. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  5. ^ Kunkel, Bill; Laney, Jr., Frank (January 1982). "Arcade Alley: The Third Annual Arcade Awards". Video. Reese Communications. 5 (10): 28, 76–77. ISSN 0147-8907. 
  6. ^ Kunkel, Bill; Katz, Arnie (November 1982). "Video's Guide to Electronic Games". Video. Reese Communications. 6 (8): 47–56, 108. ISSN 0147-8907. 
  7. ^ "Kaboom: the Mad Bomber returns [SNES - Cancelled] - Unseen64". Unseen64: Beta, Cancelled & Unseen Videogames!. 2009-11-21. Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  8. ^ "Tiger Keychains". www.handheldmuseum.com. Retrieved 2016-05-03. 

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