I vividly remember seeing the box of B.O.B. at local game rental stores as a kid and always wanting to rent it. Alas, as readers of Memories of Renting may recall, my older brother called the shots back in those days. As such, B.O.B. became one of countless SNES curiosities that would elude me until much later in life. I recall being shocked seeing the name of Electronic Arts slapped on the box. EA Sports was known for their sports titles. Only years later did I realize EA Sports was the publisher. The developer was actually Gray Matter, who developed shitty SNES games like James Bond Jr., Wayne’s World and Incredible Crash Dummies. In fact, B.O.B. is based off the game engine of Wayne’s World. So right away things aren’t looking good for B.O.B. but somehow, Gray Matter managed to get this one right. I suppose even a broken clock is correct twice a day, eh?
I remember flipping the box over and gawking at the back cover in awe. Most SNES boxes had fairly decent back covers but B.O.B. raised the bar considerably, not wasting an inch of real estate. The back was splattered with color and action, and it even featured a badass logo of our newly minted hero on the sides of the box. Oh how badly I wanted to rent it then and there but the last thing I wanted was a pissed off older brother who could beat the snot out of me
On a side note, EA Sports did develop their own action platformer a year later when they released Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City. Now that I think about it, it does have a few similarities to B.O.B. Makes you wonder if publishing B.O.B. inspired EA to eventually develop their own action game. Chaos in the Windy City isn’t shabby, but B.O.B. is the better of the two.
A LOADED ARSENAL
Pick from six guns and six gadgets to help even up the odds. There’s a bit of added depth thanks to these tools, and you can either pause the game to switch or switch on the fly with the shoulder buttons. Gotta love the SNES controller!
If Doom were made into a cartoony side scrolling action platformer, it would look a lot like B.O.B. Use the fist to conserve your ammo. It really packs a, er, punch!
Your standard single shot is the weakest gun you have and since it doesn’t have unlimited ammo, you’ll probably end up using this one the least. Your punch is actually stronger than this!
The triple shot gives you great coverage with medium power. I use this the most.
Rockets seek out the nearest target and is handy for when you’re trying to duck and dodge while simultaneously shooting like a mad man.
The flame thrower eats up a lot of ammunition fast and has limited range, but it’ll burn up the bad guys in a hurry.
Think of the bolt shot like the single shot, only 20 times stronger.
The wave shot is essentially the BFG of this game. Ammo is limited, it cuts a huge swath and does a stupid amount of damage. Save it for the bosses…
Be like Mary Poppins and glide gently to safety.
The flash sends the screen into a frenzy and affords you roughly eight seconds to safely sneak through any scenario. The enemies will be too blinded to attack!
The almighty shield grants eight seconds of invulnerability.
For a much needed boost, bust out the trampoline. It can also be done in mid-air.
Floating bomb destroys (or damages) every enemy on screen.
Use the helicopter hat to reach new heights and places. Avoid touching ceilings or else!
THE STORY GOES…
Rather than saving the world, our hero just wants to meet his hot date on a Saturday night. Of course, before he can leave, his old man gives him a lecture.
Fathers know best, right?
Teenagers can’t always see it though, because they’re young and, well, 17.
WHEW! A couple close calls there but all is good…
OOPS… I spoke too soon! THE END IS NEAR indeed.
There’s a bit of a comedic touch to this game. The map screen kind of takes me back to the days of ToeJam & Earl!
Interestingly enough, the game came out first in North America. It was released a good six months later in Japan (December 22, 1993) and was rebranded as Space Funky B.O.B. Pretty strange if you ask me!
Ammunition is limited in this game so conserve your ammo whenever possible. Thankfully, the punch is actually fairly potent and useful. The acquisition of the triple shot does make life a lot easier, though.
Weapon and gadget icons are sparingly placed throughout the levels. Always search them out and don’t run straight for the exit. Doing so will only hurt you later when it counts. And yes, because B.O.B. came out in 1993 during the mascot rage, our hero has his own antics and ‘tude.
“Gnarly” lingo is sprouted off at the start of each stage. That was 1993 for ya. I love seeing his fingers ripple up and down as he slides from point A to point B. The sound effect adds to the fun of it.
Careful! He can’t fall great distances without sustaining some damage.
Reminiscent of Alien the movie as well as Alien³ the game. Fry those little suckers! Spotting the exit within reach is always nice, but if you have time be sure to check out the surrounding nooks and crannies…
Goodies (and danger) lurk just around the corner!
Totally (1993) indeed. Love the visual effect of leaving a level.
Ammunition is fairly scarce so grab every single one you can. And use the punch whenever you can. You’ll need to conserve your ammo if you want to make it far.
Wrenches fully recover your health. It’s great seeing one especially when you’re just about to die! Watch out for the various stage hazards as well.
Creatures and critters abound. Love the nasty mess they leave behind when you kill them. A nice squishy sound effect makes it twice as fun.
Grabbing on to a pipe or vine and then sliding through following a fall is inexplicably satisfying, and something you’ll do a lot of. There is a nice flow to B.O.B. and this aspect contributes to said flow.
Certain stages will deviate from the norm and put you in a B.O.B.sled sort of affair. It’s a nice break from the usual. Avoid hazards and make it safely to the end. It can get quite dramatic as you can see above — super low health and out of time! The cool thing about running out of time is you don’t automatically lose. Once the clock hits 0, your health will drain. So it gives you a little grace period and sometimes you’ll need it to win!
Facehugger, much? The Alien homages are cool to see.
Jumping to catch the tip of a ladder is super satisfying, but jumping from tiny ledge to tiny ledge can be a bit of a frustrating experience. B.O.B. doesn’t have the best control in the world. It’s manageable, but rather loose.
Rockets come in handy against the first boss, the gigantic Borg Snake. Your rockets will take out his rockets, and since you can fire more at once than it can, you’ll be able to inflict damage in the process.
Occasionally it will stretch its neck out in an attempt to knock you back but other than that, it’s easy pickings.
Sometimes you’ll run across a health chamber. Enter it to fully recover your health. It’s reminiscent of the health chambers from Corridor 7, although B.O.B. came out first. Occasionally you’ll need to use your helicopter hat to reach the exit.
Destroy the pods first and then the vile creature will drop to fight you, pissed off that you killed its detestable babies.
Mutant maggots launch an airborne attack. Tired of dicking around, you bust out the great equalizer — the BFG! It’s time to exit this god-forsaken planet of Goth and go meet your girl!
Finally, you’re on your way to meet your hot date…
DAMN!! Way too close for comfort but you’re OK…
Naturally, it had to be a small piece, no? First goes the top…
Followed by everything else. And you thought your Tinder date was a disaster!
Arriving on the planet of Anciena, there are booby traps galore that will kill you instantly. Anciena is much tougher than Goth was.
Crouching and punching is the way to go sometimes. The enemies get harder and harder as you go deeper in the game.
Gliding down slowly and safely via the umbrella is a satisfying technique that you don’t see nearly enough of in other similar games. But one thing that is universal… the thrill of reaching level’s end with hardly any health remaining!
Creepy indeed! It almost feels satanic… in a cartoony way, of course.
Eroding platforms make their mark here. Fire birds try to subdue you, but send their asses back to the fiery pits of hell.
Nothing tops seeing a wrench when you’re on the verge of dying. They’re perfectly placed too, which speaks to the diligent efforts of Gray Matter (a shocker, I know). Little details, such as being able to see the rocket when equipping the rocket gun, make for a nice visual touch.
Sometimes, the exit can be seen early on but it’s just a tease — it’s nowhere near as accessible as it appears to be. B.O.B. quickly becomes a tough test of brutality. Just how hard? Sometimes you’ll finish a stage with no time left and barely any health!
Beware of Mr. Potato Head’s evil twin. One punch from him sends you flying back a great distance. Here’s another stage where you must use the helicopter hat to reach the exit. Thankfully, the items you need are often placed nearby. But you’ll still need to be stingy with your inventory as you never know when you might really need something and resources are scarce.
Helicopter hat and the umbrella add such great versatility and depth to B.O.B., making it a cut above your typical SNES action title.
B.O.B.sled stages are simple and fun to navigate, adding value to the game. They’re also infrequent enough to never wear out their (novel) welcome.
Something bad definitely happened!
Beware its acidic tongue.
Konami would be proud of this boss design. I love how the bosses flash orange-red when taking damage. Takes me back to the NES days of gaming!
They’ll even flash blue, too. Give ol’ Lava Lord the BFG treatment.
Memorable boss fights is key to a quality action game, and B.O.B. definitely check marks that box. Love the way Lava Lord dies, exploding one body part at a time!
Spoiler: Red Skull takes a break from guarding the Soul Stone to make a cameo in B.O.B. I guess you could say overly positive fan reaction to his scene in Infinity War has left him feeling a little… big headed. Moving on, watch out for the cloaked wizards who can electrocute your ass.
Anciena is guarded by a big bad beetle bot. It’s pancake city and auto death if his fist connects.
Thankfully, one shot of the BFG will take out its arms. This boss killed me 30 times before I thought of switching to the BFG. D’oh!
Killing bosses in B.O.B. feels super satisfying.
Alright, it’s time to meet your hot date! You zoom by a gas station and think to yourself, “Nah, I’m good!”
Riding along, singing your stupid song, you come to a most disturbing sign.
GAWD DAMNIT! Not this shit again!
Crashing on the strange and dangerous planet of Ultraworld, only the toughest weekend warriors will make it out alive.
Definitely WEIRD that no one over at Gray Matter did a spell check! Ultraworld is ultra tough. You’re walking along when all of a sudden something barfs on you and a chunk of your health goes missing!
Glancing back, you see it’s some kind of nasty parasite. A lot of B.O.B. is level memorization and repetition. It’s the only way to advance. Go a bit further, die, learn from your mistakes and repeat. A certain enemy on this stage will release bullets even after being killed. This world is TOUGH.
Annoyingly not something you can kill, this obstacle will send you flying back a great distance if you get too close. Mercifully, smashing against a wall is only a sight gag; it doesn’t sap your precious health. However, any threat that you touch while flying backward is fair game!
Damn… even the ladders aren’t safe anymore! Make sure you look before you leap. Lots of weird and tough enemies here that will tax you to your limit.
Poisonous jellyfish zoom by turning our hero into Skish KaB.O.B. Expect to see that death animation over and over again… Ultraworld will punish even the most skilled players.
Hardcore players need only apply. B.O.B. will chew you up and spit you out. Whether enemies kill you or you get crushed or you simply miss the exit by a split second, B.O.B. is one of the hardest action games on the SNES. Goth starts out easy enough. Anciena kicks it up a notch but is still quite manageable. But then Ultraworld comes and kicks your teeth down your throat. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya…
GENESIS VS. SUPER NINTENDO
Having played both versions extensively, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the SNES version is far superior. Better graphics, control and sound. It’s not even close. Plus being able to switch guns and gadgets on the fly via the shoulder buttons makes SNES B.O.B. so much more enjoyable.
Mark Lewis, the UK boss of Electronic Arts, had this to say about B.O.B. in an interview conducted by Super Play Magazine (issue #8, June 1993). It’s interesting that they dropped the “Search For Ultraforce” subtitle. B.O.B. made a little history when it became the first EA-published game to appear on the SNES before the Sega Genesis. Sadly for Mark and others, B.O.B. was a bit of a critical flop and things never quite panned out for our bug-like bot.
I’ll never forget the barrage of ninja skeletons. After you kill all of them, their heads will lift off the ground and attack you!
The last boss, appearing on stage 47, has three or four forms. I kind of freaked out the first time I saw him. It was a combination of finally making it all the way to the end and the wickedly memorable design. He was like an abominable cross between a mutant spider, elephant and octopus. The stuff nightmares are made of. Thankfully, you get helpful items appearing on either side of the screen to aid you in the final battle.
I remember sitting in the dead still of a hot August night as I vanquished the nightmarish final boss. Months of perseverance, repetition, level memorization and proper resource conservation all led to this glorious moment. B.O.B. is a satisfying conquest to those who can persist with the game’s brutal (yet fair) difficulty.
13 years after being curious about B.O.B. as a kid, I finally got to play it on June 10, 2006. It was a quiet Saturday night and the desire to at long last quell this childhood curiosity overtook me. As a kid staring at the tantalizing box at my local game rental store, I thought B.O.B. looked like it could be a good under-the-radar sort of game. It’s always nice when your gut turns out to be right so many years later. Childhood curiosities don’t always have a happy ending so it’s awesome when one does. On a side note, it blows my mind that it’s almost been longer since I beat B.O.B. in the summer of 2006 than it has been when I first wondered about the game in the summer of 1993. Frightening! It’s like the realization you have at 35 that you’ve been out of high school longer than how old you were your senior year! My, how time flies…
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Sadly, B.O.B. was mostly a flop with gaming magazines of the time. EGM gave it scores of 7, 7, 5 and 5. GameFan gave it ratings of 80, 70, 67 and 64%. Super Play buried it, rating it 54%.
But GamePro was a fan. I mean, take that for whatever it’s worth…
GamePro, however, wasn’t the only supporter. B.O.B. has a decent to solid fanbase as it turns out. Check out what some gamers have had to say over the years.
- I always loved the game. I’m surprised that it never got a sequel -IronDraggon
- It’s a decent game. I like the crouching and ways of shooting because games like Mega Man lacked that back then. I wouldn’t say there’s anything too special about it but it has its fun -cyberfluxor
- I like just about everything about B.O.B. except for its hardcore difficulty once you reach the middle stages of the game. B.O.B. is resplendent with early nineties pop culture. You get a lot of funkadelic synthesized music that actually fits the foreign backdrops perfectly. I could rock out to the boss theme for a good ten minutes or so. B.O.B.‘s music and sound effects fit it like a glove -Snow Dragon
- The graphics in this game were pretty darn good. The bug-like main character was chock full of detail. All the enemies were just as good as B.O.B. himself. The environments had a ton of detail drawn into them. B.O.B. was never a game that was really heard of a lot, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not good -BrakZero
- The graphics of the game are pretty good. There’s good use of shadow, and B.O.B. looks excellent, as do most of his enemies. The animation also flows smoothly. The sound is good too, but not excellent. This game is worth a play. Although it’s mostly just an average shoot ‘em up side scrolling game, the humorous plot and difficulty will keep you coming back for more -Hiryuu
- I really liked it. Really unexpectedly good game -PWHerman
- Great game. I still play it now and again. If I recall right it flopped pretty hard critically since it was dismissed as just another SNES platformer. Dismissed as pedestrian and derivative when it is in fact a pretty fun refinement of this type of game -Neo Rasa
Well said, guys! I absolutely agree with Snow Dragon — I too could rock out to the boss theme for a good 10 minutes or so!
The term “hidden gem” gets thrown around a lot, and many of yesteryear’s hidden gems no longer qualify as such because of people’s affinity to constantly mention them. Games like Demon’s Crest, Goof Troop and Run Saber have received more than their fair share of praise over the years, and deservedly so. However, B.O.B. even after all these years still does not receive the level of credit that I feel it should. Granted, it’s less appealing than those aforementioned titles due to a number of reasons. The control, while manageable, could have been tightened up. And the difficulty halfway through becomes downright borderline insane. But patient and persistent gamers seeking a stiff yet fair challenge are in for a treat. The exit for certain stages requires some thought. Some even require usage of the trampoline or helicopter hat. Speaking of which, the various gadgets give the game a more versatile scope as compared to others of its ilk. The many guns add to the fun as well, even though ammo is limited. Don’t expect a blazing run and gun affair. It’s more of a thinking man’s action game with deliberate pacing. Also, his ability to do simple things such as shooting up and crouching made B.O.B. rise above your average SNES action game.
Kudos to Gray Matter for skipping the played out hop ‘n bop routine. It’s a blast eviscerating bugs with the flame thrower or taking down massive bosses with the BFG. Aside from some minor control flaws (floaty jumps and control not being very crisp from a standstill point), B.O.B. is a well made game in many facets. Some stages have multiple routes, and while they’re very basic, the different routes are there at least. B.O.B. reminds me of some of the old classic 8-bit action games. There’s an old school back-to-the-basics feel, and this isn’t meant to be interpreted as a bad thing at all. Success largely comes down to repetition, memorization and proper management of limited resources. It’s very much trial and error like a lot of vintage NES games were. There’s an oddly addictive quality to see what the next level in B.O.B. will bring, despite a lot of them being somewhat similar. The B.O.B-sled levels do help break up the action, though, and those are well implemented both in terms of design and level placement.
One random guy on the internet over a dozen years ago once eloquently stated, “Dude, this game is like… a retarded Metroid.” A backhanded compliment if there ever was one but HEY, you’ll take any Metroid-related compliments you can get! I really like B.O.B. a lot. Everything from its cheesy early ’90s atmosphere to the abundant amount of humor hits a sweet spot for me. With over 45 levels of ball-busting intensity and thankfully a password system, B.O.B. will provide hours of challenging gameplay and could easily occupy you for a few hardcore weekends. It isn’t the best SNES action game around but it truly is one of the more overlooked ones, even still to this day 25 years later. I once said B.O.B. is probably what Doom would be if Doom was ever made into a cartoony side scrolling blaster, in Ultra Nightmare mode mind you. So if that sounds appealing to you, do yourself a favor and check out B.O.B. the next chance you get. Besides, he needs your help to make it to his hot date. Forget saving the princess or the world, he just wants to get some. What a respectable lad