Friday, February 20, 2009


Hudson Soft / NEC

My favorite parts of my Bomberman experience were the Gate of Thunder breaks I took every few levels. My fondest memory of it revolves around the discovery that my Gate 3-in-1 disc contained a free fourth game. I was happy about that, even though I seldom bothered with the freebie. I always looked at Bomberman as something laughable; I felt embarrassed for Hudson that this basic, archaic effort was their pride and joy, the foundation for their trademark franchise. I could see why, say, Compile would wave their Puyo Puyo flag proudly; I don't dismiss the notion of a series with a simple premise having a huge impact on players, especially if its games are charming and addictive. But I'd never believed that the Bomberman line possessed those traits, and upon finally bothering to beat the first episode's adventure mode, I felt all the more confident in my long-standing view.

No manual perusing is necessary for grasping the basics here: just drop a few bombs, dash for cover, and watch as your mindless adversaries are blown to bits by the ensuing explosions. The game becomes mildly enjoyable once you grab power-ups that enable you to walk through walls and detonate bombs at will, but it also turns into a cakewalk once you acquire those capabilities. Prior to that point, it feels extremely slow and repetitive, what with the waiting around for bombs to blow up and the stages that all seem very similar to one another. By the time I reached the second half of the adventure (which is made up of eight rounds, each of which contains eight stages), I was sick of the whole play system. Irritation ultimately set in: starting in Stage 8-4, multiple spinning-face things (which can cruise through destructible walls) would come right at me as soon as I'd gain control, which made for many cheap deaths as I tried to escape from the very-tight "start corners." I endured the unfairness because I knew I was near the end; and for my efforts, I did get to experience a fairly interesting fight with a covey of evil bombermen. Unfortunately, most of the other attempts at "boss battles" fell flat.

Things eventually improved for Bomberman on the PCE; '93 and '94 are both much better than this "pioneer." It's often said that this first title is a heck of a lot more enjoyable in multiplayer mode, but I doubt it would do much for me even if others were partaking in the bomb-laying mayhem, and frankly, I don't think I'll ever bother to find out. My friends and I usually play quality stuff like Asuka 120%, Puyo Puyo, and Dungeon Explorer when we get together, and I can't see this moldy old-timer cracking the rotation.

The bad guy got away with the girl. Thank goodness we have the helpful map screen to guide us to his lair.

You'll have to deal with certain types of enemies over and over again, and the "environments" that host the redundant battles aren't very interesting.

Here's a look at some of the bosses. I say blow these fools up quickly and get back to Gate of Thunder.

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