When The Bomb Goes Off,


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Rating: 4.3/5 (259 votes)
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GrimmrookWhen the Bomb Goes OffPop quiz. You have five seconds left to live. What do you do? Coming at it from a different direction, let's say you don't actually know you have five seconds left, but your impending mortality has not changed. What would you wish to be doing for those final five seconds? These are the kinds of questions you may find yourself pondering as you play When the Bomb Goes Off, an intriguing micro-game collection from Tom Sennett.

The bomb is going to go off. This can't be changed. It's going to go off in, oh, about five seconds, give or take nothing. This can't be changed either. Your task is simple: guide a bunch of individuals through their final five seconds of life before the bomb does go off. Whether or not they achieve their goals before all of existence evaporates in a violent mushroom cloud-shaped cluster of exothermic reactions taking place at cruelly and devastatingly high speed can be changed… it just probably doesn't matter very much.

You help the series of doomed little stick figures by first determining what it is they are trying to do, and then using the arrow keys to guide them to their goal. Sometimes the tasks are obvious and easy, like handing a bottle of ketchup to someone else, and sometimes, well, sometimes we find that our fated folks have something more complex in mind.

Can you get 100% by helping all of the stick figures attain their goals before being vaporized by the big one? Or will you (more likely) fail a few if not all of them? Look at the bright side. If you aren't successful, it's not like they're going to know, right?

Analysis: To use a phrase from our own Psychotronic, When the Bomb Goes Off has "morbid likability." Sure, most micro-game collections have a sort of inherent attractiveness to them, whether the cohesive center that binds them all is good or not. There's just something compelling about having less then ten seconds to learn what you are supposed to do, and then doing it.

But I don't think I've ever seen something quite like WTBGO. The basic concept, an impending apocalyptic explosion, is truly terrifying. However, Sennett gives the entire idea the absurdity treatment, making the prospect of global annihilation seem excessively cheerful, with whimsical stick figures and an insistent piano track reminiscent of the Keystone Kops and penny arcades of yesteryear. It's all enough to make you laugh, or at least grin.

And then something happens. Not in the game, mind you, the game remains the same no matter how many times you play it, which would seem a poor recipe for replay value, but somehow the percentage score at the end will keep you coming back for more. No, it's not the game that changes, but you. Or, more accurately, your perspective.

When the Bomb Goes OffMaybe it will be the content of a task here or there, a sudden realization that at the end of the world this is the last thing a certain person will be doing. There are tasks that if you stop to think about them are utterly heartbreaking. They would be heartbreaking no matter what, but the complete finality of the game makes them even more so.

Or maybe it will just be a growing realization not tied to any one specific micro-game but instead an effect that is created by the sum total of everything you see. Perhaps it will seep in slowly, nothing more than a recognition that sometimes we take for granted far too much that the sun will rise again tomorrow, that all our fancy sciences have allowed us to grow smug with the fact that the sun is not a god prone to exploding if we don't sacrifice someone every full moon or something.

This is how When the Bomb Goes Off works on so many wonderful levels. It is a fun game, with controls that are alternately tight and loose based on the content of each scene. It is on its surface an almost absurd and funny game, the ultimate in gallows humor. And, if you let it, it will sneak up on you and provide something so much more profound.

I wish I had something to criticize here, something to prove that, if nothing else, I have not in fact been taken in so completely by this game. No, it doesn't have fancy graphics, but then, it's not supposed to. No, the controls aren't always pinpoint accurate and responsive, but then that's part of the territory with micro-games where you are changing up the entire game's world every five seconds. When the Bomb Goes Off is what it is, and it is itself so completely that any criticism would simply be irrelevant. Whatever effect it has on you is probably the exact effect it is supposed to have on you. An impressive accomplishment indeed.

Play When the Bomb Goes Off

41 Comments

Pixelated Author Profile Page May 7, 2009 4:44 AM

Haha, simplicity really is the key. Sometimes its a bit vague on what you have to do, but I still like it.

I only got 26% the first time, but I'll be trying again now.

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Nice game. It puts the fun back into nihilism and existential angst.

There are a few biting pieces of satire too. My favorite:

What if the last five seconds of your life were spent trying to beat this very game?

Hmm, maybe we should spend less time browsing jayisgames.com ? :-)

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My only complaint is that I wish jumping stayed at a steady height across all stick figures. It is hard to calibrate on top of everything else in less than 5 seconds.
First try: 33%, second try: 42%

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Regarding the graffiti level:

Cave Story does NOT suck!

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@DLand:

Maybe you can find solace in the fact that said statement and the one who made it only exists for a few seconds before ending in a ball of fiery glory.

But yeah, I do agree.

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I don't like how the title screen doesn't tell that SPACE, too, is a command. Which makes me wonder if there are additional keys you don't know about and 5 seconds is way too little time to find them.

Other then that, I dig the nihilistic/apocalyptic concept. And the music is cute. Very Fallout.

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Very cute game. The music reminds me of the ending of Dr. Strangelove.

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I got 40%, 66%, and 83% on my three tries. I think I got every level at least once in those tries, except the landing-on-the-bird one and the out-of-focus one. Really, what in the world are you supposed to do for the out-of-focus level?

(Long division FTW!)

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Pyoko123 May 7, 2009 10:16 AM

The one where you have to jump off the building depresses me, especially when listening to sad slipknot songs. I got 40% on my first try, 70% on my second.

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micktravis Author Profile Page May 7, 2009 10:40 AM

baba: What do you use the space key for?

I got 36%, 46%, 66% and 83%. And now I'm bored! Nice little game though, fun concept.

Joe, for the out-of-focus level:

Just walk left until you're off screen. You're supposed to leave the other person.

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Oh, thanks. I figured it had something to do with lining them.

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I tried playing this game, but it won't let me. I installed the new Arobe Flash player, but it still says I haven't. I installed the Flash player again and hit refresh like 4 times, but the game says i STILL haven't installed the flash player. :/ What do i do?

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chipmunk Author Profile Page May 7, 2009 1:32 PM

I reject the notion that criticism would be irrelevant. This is a neat idea for a game, but the controls are terrible, making it more frustrating than fun.

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who cares May 7, 2009 2:03 PM

it is cute, not terrifying.

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stupidcheeseboy Author Profile Page May 7, 2009 2:41 PM

So how do you get past the turtles in the cave and the flying ram? :?

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LOL This is really funny! Works better as a funny little interactive experience than an actual game. So I'll save my criticism about the game design.

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Splurgy May 7, 2009 3:40 PM

This game made me sad. :/
I suppose that's what makes it stand out. The mere fact that

the maths teacher, the cat and the girlfriend of beer-guy

all died in a fiery explosion makes it seem all so poignant.
Also, why are we using spoilers? We know the ending is that they all die, so I don't see why we should stick to them. I just used one since it's good form.

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I had the same promblems as Meh10. I downloaded the latest flash player and it still won't let me play the game. The blue bar came up saying allow the flash player to run on your computer and I pressed it. And I STILL can't play it. This is frustrating. :/

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For the "flying ram" level:

jump down into the pit, land on the turtle, then bounce back up to the other side of the pit and run off the left side of the screen.

I, too, cannot figure out what to do with the turtles in the cave.

(I landed on the bird the first time I played, and have been utterly unable to do it since.)

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Desmond May 7, 2009 4:33 PM

OtherBill:
For the cave

just hop over the enemies and reach the right end of the screen. Seems hard at first but it's actually very easy when you just tap the up-button very shortly.

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I take this to entail keeping your plans in order, and that Jack Bauer failed. (to be fair, 24 hours is a lot more time than this game allows)

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I like the fact that in some of the levels (ketchup, beer) you move so frustratingly slow. As the PC you don't know the world is about to end, so why would you run? But for the player it can be maddening.

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Anonymous Jo May 8, 2009 1:30 AM

How do you finish the graffiti level?
Help?

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Offriender Author Profile Page May 8, 2009 11:27 AM

For the graffiti level

Grab the can, jump on the shed to the right, jump on the ledge to the left, run past the wall there, die.

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Five seconds before the bomb goes off, I would want to be in a spot with a really good view.

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a person May 23, 2009 2:38 PM

how do grab stuff, like the bottle of ketchup?

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me myself and i May 23, 2009 7:08 PM

How do you do the level in the mine with the two turtles?

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OMG, atleast for me, when the bomb goes off, I know that I will have died a 'G'

Observe:

http://s414.photobucket.com/albums/pp226/hania_102/?action=view¤t=einhundert.jpg

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The only one I couldn't figure out how to do at all was the WooTube one, with the dude standing on the platform and the bird-thing flying by. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks. :)

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Can anyone help me with the shower level?
First I thought you had to reach the towel, then I thought he might just want to walk naked off the screen after shutting off the water but neither worked. Help?

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RE: shower

Turn off the water, then jump onto the edge of the shower. From there you just jump onto the towel, which you grab.

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Anonymous June 21, 2009 7:24 PM

can't figure out the cave level, so sad:(

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How do you win the level with the dog and the falling t.v. HELP ME!!!!!!!!

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They blew up the moon?

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Why not? There are plenty of bombs to go around. But, do explosions really turn green like that, if you finish what you're doing first? Perhaps it's one of those economical explosions.

This game is hilarious. I can't stop laughing. It took me about an hour and a half to get 100%. No bonus stage, still zero survivors.

I wouldn't change a thing. I would love to see a When The Bomb Goes Off, part II.

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Person of Awesome March 11, 2010 9:28 PM

Very sad when you see it go off and you haven't done it... Especially with the level with the boat (which I assume you have to jump on). I sniffled for a while when I though of how much his life changed when I missed it. Very well done.

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The link is broken now.

[Link is fixed now. Thanks for the comment! -Jay]

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The only complaint I have is that sometimes I found it hard to feel sorry for stick figures. Maybe I'm just not a compassionate person...

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I love this game, for all the reasons mentioned above.

Unfortunately, I've never beaten the cave level. I just can't seem to jump low enough to avoid hitting the stalactites, and on those rare occasions when I do, I can't get enough horizontal distance to jump over the turtles, so I just bounce right off the second one and propel myself up into the spike anyway.

Am I missing something? There is no way one of these minigames should be that much harder than the others.

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You know the level when the person is in the cave what do you do because I either die of turtles or the stalacmite from the ceiling SOMEONE HELP ME!

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