Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bomberman '94

Hudson Soft

The impressive leap in quality the Bomberman series made in going from the "paper classic" original to the legitimately enjoyable '93 followup probably left Hudson feeling that subsequent chapters would be running on fumes if a little tinkering weren't performed on the fundamental formula. One notices immediately that '94 features the best graphics of the PCE episodes...

...but the gameplay additions and adjustments end up the determiners of the degree of success this title attains. Kangaroo and mine cart rides make for neat alternatives to the usual Bomberman waddle, and limited visibility makes exploring a haunted house a suitably uneasy experience. I could've done without the threat of cheap annihilation via falling magma chunks in the volcanic region, however.

I also wasn't pleased to discover that '94 is shorter, easier, and ultimately less rewarding than '93. Gone is the required slaying of every enemy in a given board; here, you're simply asked to destroy a few crystals to open the way to your objective. Stages can be conquered without much grief until perhaps the final area, where stout foes appear in tight corridors. Prior to that difficult stretch, the only real challenge comes from the bosses, who are proficient fighters despite their unimpressive appearances. Especially tough is the string of battles that the adventure concludes with.

'94 is certainly a lot better than the old, crusty original; and I respect Hudson for trying to change things up rather than adhering to Bomberman tradition. But '93 is a better overall product; and unfortunately, for all the effort that went into doing something new with '94, it ultimately represents a sharp decline in entertainment value for the franchise.

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