Developer(s) – Namco
Publisher(s) – Namco & Midway
Bosconian is a multi-directional, multi-scrolling and free-roaming arcade shooter; and for me, it stands out as one of the best retro arcade shooters I’ve ever played if I’m being very honest. Over the years, I’ve been very much used to playing linear shooters like Space Invaders and Galaxian, but I’ve rarely played arcade shooters, which require players to do some exploring, and the way I see it, players at the time must have looked at this game as a breath of fresh air; a very positive change from the norm.
Graphics – 6/10
Though laughable by today’s ever increasing standards in visuals, I find the graphics in Bosconian are fairly well done for the time, and they still hold up moderately well too, in terms of concept. A lot of the enemy and ship designs stand out to me, including the green bases, which must be cleared from every stage to advance further. Though very similar to Asteroids in terms of gameplay, there’s much more to look at in this title.
Gameplay – 8/10
In lieu of arcade gaming tradition, Bosconian provides a very high level of challenge and addiction. The objective is to destroy the green bases to progress, whilst shooting down as many additional spaceships for the highest possible score. But as I alluded to earlier, what I like most about this game is that to an extent, it encourages exploration, as the green bases can be spread out into several different places on the in-game map. I think any arcade game that can encourage exploration from these earlier gaming generations has to be commended, since linearity was one of the biggest constants back then.
Controls – 10/10
As the game’s general formula had already been developed on with games such as Asteroids, there should never have been a problem with the controls scheme, and nor is there one in Bosconian, I’m happy to point out.
Lifespan – N/A (10/10)
As with all the greats of the era, Bosconian is a game that can simply be picked up and played by anyone as and when, and doesn’t have a fixed lifespan. Though there was no system in the place at the time telling consumers what was good and what was bad, one of a few things they could rest assured of was that it was up to them how long a game lasted.
Storyline – N/A (10/10)
Another thing gamers of the times could rest assured of was that they could play a game without having to worry too much about story progression. Though story in video games have become a pivotal factor in the industry by today’s standards, back then, stories in video games were unheard of; long before they were ever considered by the general consensus to be a valid art form. As with Space Invaders and Titan Attacks, the basic premise is to stop an alien invasion. Otherwise, there was and is very little need for any further development in terms of story.
Originality – 6/10
Though ultimately a modification of two already existing ideas at the time, this game takes elements from both Asteroids and Galaxian and presents players with a very different experience entirely. Credit is due to the developers of this game, as originality seemed to be such a difficult thing to attain in the first and second generation of gaming; especially given such things as limited graphics and the then generally primitive nature of the industry.
Overall, Bosconian is an extremely good arcade game that I regret not ever trying out beforehand. Amidst the library of games released at the time, I’d say this one stands out and definitely would have offered things to many gamers at the time as well as being able to provide something infinitely different to modern gamers compared with other arcade titles.