Part of the beauty of early arcade games was the preponderance of “truth in advertising”. What you read was what you got. So when Atari released a game called Canyon Bomber, there was no doubt what it was about.
For some never-explained reason a large canyon had been filled with numbered balls, and for another never-explained reason, you had to clear it out.
The fun part was, you got to use bombs.
You had no control over the blimps and biplanes (only one at a time, thankfully) that flew over the canyon at random speeds. Your only job was to drop bombs, because, well – that’s what canyon bombers do.
Using the bomb release button (the only control at your disposal), you released your ordnance at just the right time to take out the numbered balls below, earning the number of points labelled on the ball for a hit.
Since the speed varied, you had to be a pretty good judge of physics to avoid missing the target completely. You were only allowed a limited number of misses – set anywhere from 3 to 6 by the operator – so accuracy was everything.
Canyon Bomber allowed either one or two player action. In the two-player version, the first player’s white aircraft entered from the left side, while the second player’s black aircraft came in from the right (and no, you couldn’t bomb each other, as hard as you tried).
Once a canyon was cleared, assuming you made it that far without wasting all your misses, another one would appear to take its place. Such was the lonely life of the canyon bomber—another day, another ditch filled with numbered balls . . .