Bomberman 64Look who is back. It's Bomberman!
Developer: Hudson Soft
Bomberman reached phenomenal popularity across the world not because of its adventurous storylines nor its inventive single-player gameplaying (which were just OK), but because the series multiplayer modes were amazingly well-designed, balanced, and chock full of sheer, all-out fun.
Bomberman 64, out now in Japan and the US, is now far more balanced between its single-player and multiplayer modes. Now, each is good in its own regard. What s more striking to me is the game s remarkable single-player mode, which still carries the same feeling from the previous titles, and elevates the gameplay to a new standard. Bomberman 64 is no Super Mario 64, but it uses elements of that great platformer and incorporates them uniquely into this new version. Suffice to say, the single-player game is more inventive and mysterious than it ever was, while the multiplayer mode is more like Poy Poy -- a good thing, but not as brilliant as the perfect, unbeatable Super NES s Super Bomberman.
Let's start with the single-player mode first. The game is split into six worlds, each with four stages, sub-bosses and end-bosses. Gamers play as Bomberman, who is sent on a mission to save his world from a clan of evil alien dudes who seemed to have enslaved his race. As usual, Bomberman must collect bombs and power-ups throughout these worlds to find his way out, or complete the stage. There are five gold diamonds to collect in each stage, special power-ups that you ll need to beat the final boss, timed bombs, mega-bombs, special Ultimate Bomberman pieces, and loads of secret environments to discover. Bomberman himself is also capable of tremendously cool new abilities. He can pump up his bombs, create bridges to cross random caverns or reach high constructs, kick, throw, and catch them.
What will keep gamers riveted are the exploration elements, and the incrementally difficult gameplay. Gamers will have to spend quite a bit of time attempting to cross chasms with either small or large bombs, trip certain levers, or search out those hidden diamonds. A set of all new enemies and sprites blended with polygonal, texture-mapped environments create a solid visual experience, while all three dimensions are equally used for exploration.
Bosses and sub-bosses will definitely enhance gamer s bomb throwing and kicking skills, and are areas in which quick hand-eye coordination, pattern recognition, and determination are definitely required. The bosses, strangely enough, strongly resemble thse of older renditions in the series, although this time, they re in 3D. In fact, most of these bosses don t use the third dimension as much as they could ve; but it must be said the bizarre angler boss in the Blue Resort and the Robot boss in Red Mountain are very, very cool. The final dragon on the first level is visually cool, but the automatically changing camera angles can be a bitch (pardon the French), and plain annoying. Also, some of the later-level bosses are really easy, where some early-level bosses are more difficult. However Hudson figured it out, the boss AI isn't entirely balance, and could've used more of it.
Bombs are used in brand new ways. They can be used to build towers and bridges, and enable Bomberman to reach ports and areas you just wouldn t have thought he could reach. These techniques are more of an art than a science, and take some time to learn. This aspect of the game is truly its most unique and unusual, making the game stand out far more than ever before.
Beware, however. Bombs bridges and ladders are never the same twice, and the use of them can be extremely frustrating, to say the least. We can only say that Hudson had a good idea with these bombs bridges, but they're not consistently used nor are they consistently attainable.
I'm of the opinion that the Super NES multiplayer version is the pinnacle of Bomberman goodness. There hasn t been and won t be anything better in the Bomberman series -- at least in terms of multiplaying. No subsequent version beat it in any way, but they have instead added slightly new elements or creatures to differentiate the original format. This multiplayer version is slightly different.
The multiplayer version of Bomberman 64 is good, and fans of the older versions need only a few takes to get this one under their skin. The 3D arenas are cool; they re not too small, or too large. They provide excellent varying obstacles, and enable kicking and throwing at any time. Opponents can be stunned unconscious (for a few seconds), and dead ones can come back in to piggyback on their killers for pure vengeance. The levels are also timed and provide meteors and other final-second anxiety-producing elements that raise the game s intensity.
All in all, Bomberman 64 isn't a pillar of originality or perfect brilliance like Super Mario 64. The game, on the other hand, maintains the unique qualities that made the series so popular in the past, and manages to provide just-short-of-brilliant adventuring, while turning up the learning curve a notch from previous games to ensure tons of replay value. The unusual bomb bridging and tower-building techniques stand out as bizarre and strangely unique, and honestly can be said to be innovative and create additions that bring Bomberman 64 firmly into the age of 3D platforming.