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Up from (Super) Obscurity

Where ever grizzled sailors gather to suck down dirty bottles full of rot-gut and tell haunting tales of the sea you find people talking about the weirdest and least-loved Super Nintendo games...there are a few companies that you might hear about. You have your Irem-s, your Jaleco-s, but you also have:
Yes, consider the humble KEMCO: though their output of SNES games was slim, they've certainly made their presence felt in my game collection.
They appear to have made their fortune money by porting Euro-PC/Amiga games (often RPGs) to the Super Nintendo, even if their games of choice weren't a logical fit for the console world. And I've already talked about several of their games:
Drakken, the inside/outside/upside-down RPG!
Lagoon, where you play as a toddler-like hero armed with a butterknife.
Kid Klown in Crazy Chase, which proves the old Adam West addage, "some days you just can't get rid of a bomb."
And today we'll discuss another KEMCO port/conversion/whatever -- which, ironically enough, ALSO focuses on bombs. Today we're talking about the Pseudo-Mr.-Potato-Head-Demolition-Squad-'em-Up known as...
(or is it KABLOOEY? Actually I think the original PC-version name, "Bombuzal", sounds quite a bit better).
Anyway, in KA-BLOOEY you play as that blue...thing. I wonder what he/she/it is called. Perhaps his name is KA-BLOOEY? If so, is "KA" his first name? I think this seems not only possible but likely, so we'll just call him "Mr. Blooey."
Mr. Blooey appears to be something of a cross between Grimace and a muppet, with bigger eyeballs than a character in a Japanese animated cartoon and an overbite that would make Goofy jealous.
But unlike the title screen suggests, your nemeses aren't robot dogs or purple pac-men with teeth. Actually, let's just let a few frames from the "Instructions" text crawl explain it:
That's the important part: explode all the bombs. You shouldn't try to play it like I did at first (trying to explode all the LAND tiles, except the last one which you need to survive) because it didn't work that way.
And how do you blow up the KA-BLOOEY bombs?
Well, your character just stand on them and hold either the "A" or "X" buttons: a count-down from three will appear over his head and...well, let's just use an animated GIF again:
It's worth noting that to commit to the countdown, you have to press and hold the button until it counts down to zero (or, I guess, to "1", then disappears).
Even then the bomb won't go off right away, that just indicates the bomb is "armed." An "armed" bomb will politely wait (indefinitely) until Mr. Blooey waddles one square away, THEN it'll detonate. Scholars are divided about why this is -- but my theory is that they feel kinship with Mr. Blooey, because his nose clearly used to be a bomb:
And if you're curious about what the "B" or "Y" buttons do? Well, that makes Mr. Blooey pick up the bomb:
You might think that moving the bombs around is the main Puzzler mechanic, but you'd be wrong: when you pick up the bomb and take a step, you immediately set it back down unless that bomb happens to be sitting in a "slotted" tile...though in the first 5 or 6 levels, there's only a few slotted tiles:
So, what's the puzzle mechanics of KA-BLOOEY, you ask?
Well, it's mostly that you have to find a way to blow up all the bombs in the level. When a bomb goes off, it has an area-of-destruction where it blows up tiles, and an area-of-jostling(?) which is one square further; any bomb jostled by an explosion ALSO explodes.
So all you have to do is know those two rules and detonate ALL the bombs before you:
1) Run out of time.
You see that "Bonus" countdown at the bottom of the screen? If it hits Zero, not only do you get no bonus points, you also get an unusual consolation prize: DEATH.
B) Walk off the edge of the tiles.
This is always a possibility in isometric platformers, which have always had odd controls dating all the way back to Q*Bert. In this game, for example, the "DOWN" button on the D-pad makes you go towards the lower-left corner of the screen.
(Also there's some "special tiles" which give you trouble, like the "icy tiles that send you slipping in a straight line until you reach a non-icy tile or fall off the edge").
iii) Blow up so many tiles that you can't reach (and destroy) all the level's bombs.
The most common challenge in many levels; the bombs destroy the floor, so there's often only one order you can blow up the bombs in without isolating yourself.
Also the "special cracked tile" adds to this challenge: it only lets you walk on it once, and disintegrates the moment your chubby blue pear-shaped avatar strolls off of it.
4) Blow yourself up by triggering Medium or Large bombs (which blow up the adjacent square(s)+ you run to)
In fact, only the "small" (nose-sized) bombs can be detonated directly.
The "medium" and "jumbo" bombs need to be triggered by being jostled by small bombs (or other chain-reaction explosions).
As always, there's special tiles that are exceptions to that -- for example, if you trigger a bomb then step on the Teleporter Tile, it will beam you somewhere else (usually the opposite side of the board) before the explosion hits.
So, now that you've got your Blue Grimace Bomb Squad merit badge...
Feel free to go enjoy this decent puzzle-game. As I tried to explain, it has some unusual mechanics and enough new features are introduced as you progress in the form of "special tiles", enemies, remote-control detonator robots, etc that it has a lot to recommend it.
Also, as is puzzle game tradition, lives are plentiful and you get frequent passwords (after each level, in this case). That means when a new tile, enemy or hazard appears for the first time, you can spare a life or two just to figure out how it works.
I have one big graphics-related quibble with this game. Remember back on the title screen? That fuse coming out of the bomb wasn't just for show: it slowly burned down, until...
But in the game itself? The only indicator that the bombs are being triggered is the "mystery countdown" that appears above Mr. Blooey's head:
Where is the fuse? There is no fuse! Thus I think we must conclude that Mr. Blooey is a "Fire Starter", possessed of pyro-kinetic powers, like Carrie of that "pig's blood/unfortunate prom massacre" fame.
Perhaps that explains the bizarrely sultry voice-clip that begins every level by purring, "Player 1...Get rrready!" MR. BLOOEY IS COMMUNING WITH THE SPIRIT OF CARRIE!
Well, maybe that's a stretch...what do you think, other puzzle game icon?
— carlmarksguy, 2013-11-22
Two RPGs and two games about bombs. I guess Kemco liked consistency. (I have the other three, but I still need to procure Kablooey. I'll look for it when I hit the used game shops on Black Friday.)
..& now I'm curious about "First Samurai" :) Though, "Stone Protectors", I think I could do without; it's bizarre how expensive SNES beat-em-ups are these days, especially if they're rare! (Seriously, "Sonic BlastMan II" and "Captain Commando" have been commanding RPG-level prices on Amazon for years).
Oh, goodness, I have First Samurai. When you get hit by an enemy, he yells, "Oh no! My Sword!" in a very stereotypical "Asian" accent as his sword goes flying away, like something out of a WWII era cartoon. If you find the sword again in the level, the same voice clip is played, only without the "Oh no!".
Good god. Though as far as disturbing audio clips, I can't over-emphasize the out-of-place disembodied voice that says "Player 1, get rrrready!" before every level/life. And then bits of it seem to be sampled in to the background music if you live long enough. Voice clips in music, THAT'S something I need to write about (this game and TIMECOP's level 1 "F.B.I.! F.B.I!" techno-tune)
Charlie McGee was really more the fire starter.
In any event, I have it on good authority that it wasn't Billy Joel.
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