B-17 Bomber, Intellivision

B-17 Bomber is a very early – but really rather excellent – WWII bomber simulation, released for the Intellivision in 1982.

B-17 Bomber came bundled with the ‘Intellivoice‘ speech module at the time, which gave very impressive speech synthesis within the game. Actually, the game opens with a voice that says “Mattel Electronics presents…” then a strongly recognisable Texas accent kicks in and says: “Bee Sevahn-teen Bow-mer!” Clearly a tribute to Slim Pickens‘ character in Stanley Kubrick‘s Dr. Strangelove, and also amazing that this early speech synthesis could successfully portray a Texas accent. Remember: this is not digitised speech – it is phonetically synthesised. Most Intellivision emulators will happily emulate the speech and it is quite useful in-game because it warns you of approaching enemy.

The game itself is surprisingly engrossing. Considering that it’s only a 16K ROM cartridge B-17 Bomber has quite a lot to it. The aim is simple: to go out on bombing runs to destroy enemy targets. In practise: you have to juggle a variety of hats, including fighting off enemy fighters; piloting the bomber; and of course dropping bombs from the bay doors with an overhead view of the area. There’s a map of Europe, dotted with potential targets, which always shows your position relative to everything else.

Considering the limitations of the Intellivision, and the fact that this was released in 1982, B-17 Bomber is a remarkable achievement – in gaming terms. It’s an impressive prototype flight sim, squeezed into very little memory; with good playability, and high quality synthesised speech.

More: B-17 Bomber on Wikipedia

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