Baby Boomer
by Peaches

The first title for Color Dreams. Showing their trademark creative-yet-stupid approach, this game lets you use the Zapper Light Gun not as an offensive weapon, but to defend an itty bitty baby as he marches like a lemming towards certain doom and gold nuggets. In fact, if you don' t have a Zapper, you can use the NES controller, or with a friend, you can use both at once if you're like me and are into both giving and receiving the pain.

The game specifically mentions that poor Boomer has lost his mom. I'm under the impression that she abandoned him in a dangerous place and ran far, far away, but whatever. It's your job to shoot whatever moves (except Boomer - heck, you can't even shoot him if you try) in order to keep him protected. Rats, snakes, fish... just blast the bastards. Shoot all the milk bottles you find to keep him fed (don't you just love it when you die all of a sudden because you forgot that one thing back there?). And shoot fireworks, because apparently it's Fourth of July and leaving lit Roman Candles everywhere is the hot new fad among the teenagers or something. Pretty much the only thing you're not supposed to shoot are the gold nuggets, which Boomer collects himself for extra lives. Why this baby can asexually reproduce via precious metals and needs to be fed by having milk shot, I don't know. There are also "what do I shoot?" puzzle elements, such as shooting clouds to make frozen bridges so Boomer can mindlessly march forward without fear of falling into open graves. Seriously.

Got it? Good. Here's a level walkthrough.

1 - Park or someplace
Your opponents here are snakes and rats and jumping spiders. It's your basic brightly colored fluff, but not too bad. Here, you learn the basics: shoot, shoot, shoot. And make sure you get those clouds, their precious snow creates the bridges you need. There's also a golden cloud. I have no idea why. Shoot the trees to make birds come out. They don't go anywhere near Boomer, but you can shoot them once they're out for bonus points. This animal cruelty actually amused me. The game ends with a huge sign indicating that you're bundle of joy is heading straight for...

2 - The Cemetery
Again, pretty standard 8-bit fare as far as the decor goes, but amusing. Shoot bats and little black dogs (or are they cats?) that jump around like... well, they're a bitch to kill. And skeletons, shoot them too (every game needs skelies). Be sure to check out the blood-red fountains. And the milk bottles are invisible on this level, so you need to wait for a flash of lightning... or just look for the white squares that pop up whenever you pull the trigger (you can find lots of "secret" stuff that way). Oh, and shoot the elevator buttons, too, because the path splits up ahead.

3A - The Cloud Zone
Okay, that's three game cliches in a row... could be worse, though. I hope you REALLY like shooting those damn clouds, because really the only thing Boomer walks on in this level are frozen bridges. And this isn't the only level where you will probably lose a couple Boomer babies trying to figure out what the heck you need to shoot to make a frozen bridge (in the Cemetary, it was usually a cloud but sometimes a gravestone. Here, you might have to thoroughly blast up to three clouds to find the right one, and then it may only build 1/3 of the bridge you need). Watch out for new baddies, like... black frowny face. And raining clouds. This level introduces you to the Gold Milk Bottle, which turns Boomer gold and invincible. It only appears for about a second, then disappears, so shoot it, because the level is even more annoying without it. And stay sharp, you have to shoot a new Gold Milk every few screens or lose it completely. Oh, and check out the lovely Golden Fountain. Hey, wait a minute, that's just a recolor of the Blood Fountain from last level. And the plain water fountain from the first! Who at Color Dreams had the fountain fetish, huh?

I couldn't get past this level. Those fucking clouds and gold milks aren't worth it.

3B - Hell
At least it's not "Volcano Lava Fire Desert World Land" or whatever. Still, sending a baby to Hell amuses me greatly. Here's a good example of the frustrating nature of Baby Boomer, though: for a game with puzzle elements, most of it seems to be trial and error. One of the first things you do in this level is shoot a torch to make one of the ubiquitious frozen bridges (in Hell, mind you). Shoot another torch, and it turns into an enemy generator that makes it impossible to get Boomer safely to the other side, and a huge pain to keep going if he's already to the right of it. This game likes to fuck with you. It will make you say "Thank you, Wisdom Tree! May I have another?" and then it will say "No way, maggot!" before doing something worse to you.

4 - Crypt
More ghosty stuff. At this point, I began to tire of babysitting with a gun, and even the ghosts that burst into clouds of sperm when you shot them failed to amuse me. The only thing I remember about this level was running out of milk at the last possible second (WHY DO I HAVE TO SHOOT SO MUCH MILK? INFANTILE OBESITY IS NOT A LAUGHING MATTER PEOPLE!), and somehow going into a passage that made the screen say

"Uh-oh, wrong way!"

... like I'm supposed to be able to tell...

5 - Hell Crypt Fireworks Factory
I can't tell what this level is supposed to be. It seems like a bastardization of the last three. What sets it apart is the fact that there's a freaking firecracker every twenty pixels, I freaking swear. When you're not shooting those, there's a swarm of really fast, unrelenting enemies to keep you busy. Don't congratulate yourself, though, because this was the wrong way! It leads straight back to the start of the freaking cemetery level.

Thank you Color Dreams, but I believe the jury has reached its verdict. I had fun playing this game, at first. There is some good design going on. The enemies will tax your skills and keep you guessing, coming from all directions and places and behaving differently (whoever thought kids would play this game was a moron, it's too difficult and frustrating). But it's all good ideas and poor execution. Frozen bridges are cool the first time, but having so many of them... it's like if Link had to play Song of Walking Another Five Yards on this Ocarnia just to keep moving. Trial-and-error games are probably easy to make, but that's because they SUCK.


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