Bomberman 64 (N64)
Ever since the original title "Bomberman" debuted on the NES, gamers around the globe sat in front of their TV screens, cursing the miniature demolitions expert for blowing himself up. Two systems (and a couple of repaired controllers) later, Hudson Soft managed to redefine the level of complexity and skill involved when playing Bomberman. For veteran gamers who liked the original carts, this game is a blast, but the best part is that, despite being essentially a puzzle game, you needn't be a fan of the genre to enjoy this one. While the challenges in this cart are definitely much greater than those of its predecessors, it's still a fun game to play, even if you do seem to bomb yourself at least 30 times a day... and the multiplayer mode is great for blowing your friends up!
An N64 standard, I haven't seen anything new or spectacular, but the graphics are solid. You should be used to the repeating textures by now, so it's nothing really new. The water, as with most N64 carts, looks good, although the bombs and powerups are 2-D (like the trees & fences in Super Mario 64). The game has a cartoon feel, and the sprites reflect this -- most look like they could be in a Saturday morning slot. The explosions, particularly those of a pumped up bomb with a power increase, look really cool, even if they burn you to a crisp.
To me, a game's background music should not be that noticeable; it should be able to create the desired mood/effect, without standing out. While playing Bomberman 64, I didn't really notice the music at all until I went back again to hear it. It did not, however, create any kind of mood for me at all. It's not that the music was bad, but it isn't very impressive either. The sound effects did not fare much better I'm afraid. While the cart, overall, has decent sound effects, the very repetitive ding of power-ups, groan of lifting bombs, and the ever-present explosions can become quite annoying. However, I couldn't think of another version of any effects that would better gameplay, so I neglected to hold it against Hudson Soft. In a game like this, where many actions can be repetitive (as mentioned in the gameplay paragraph), it is not easy to find sounds that don't seem to attack your ears after a while.
Despite it's moderate flaws in sound, and lack of special graphics, the game is, overall, a fun cart to play. Where else can you run around and blow the crap out of everything in site and not get in trouble? While someone mentioned to me that it was just like Blast Corps, the lack of a time limit (that dumb missile truck or whatever) lets you explore the levels in their entirety, and have some fun bombing the trees, boxes and enemies. There are sub-bosses (a series of anti-Bomberman attackers that look like robots) in each level, along with a larger boss at the end, making for a little variety. Every level has a different puzzle to solve, and while the game supposedly gives you 3 credits, you can just hit reset and have the 3 credits again, without losing your place in the level (a bug, maybe). The multiplayer mode, as with most N64 games, is even more fun than playing alone. The arenas aren't overly large, but they aren't that confined either, and if you take too long to kill your friends, the game provides meteors, sinking floors, and other nerve-racking obstacles to hurry you along. There are 4 bonus arenas! Wanna get them? Here's how: At the start screen (where you pick between adventure, battle, customize and options) press the start button rapidly (as if you were playing a track-and-field game) until you hear a confirmation ding. Go to the battle mode and kill your friend in 4 new arenas!) Not only is there multiplayer, but you can also customize your Bomberman, with cool new clothes! The only catch is, you have to find them throughout the stages. Accessories include knight's armor (you get that one for free), a cat suit, a dragon-warrior type outfit, and a few others. (I haven't found them yet :P) And you can mix-&-match. Bombermen are very fashion-conscious, but they won't wear different clothes on the job, so his new threads only show up in battle mode. These outfits alone have kept me up until all hours of the night searching.
I've spent quite some time complaining to my friends about the camera angles in this game. Because of large buildings, underpasses, or tall walls, you often lose sight of Bomberman, and can easily blow yourself up by mistake. In a couple of places, the game switches to a total overhead view by default, instead of the usual 45 degrees view (almost like that of Super Mario RPG), and I questioned as to why they didn't do that more often. There were many times where I found myself stuck behind walls or buildings, and all I could do was walk blindly and hope I didn't plunge into the deadly water (why can't Bomberman swim anyway?) or run headlong into an enemy. The game also experiences an annoying drop in the frame rate when you pull the camera out and are looking at any even remotely large portion of the level - I'm only guessing as to why, but in a stage, there are doors and stairs that, upon walking through/on, the game stops, and the camera moves to another "room", even though it might be connected by a simple walkway, and thus the game may be keeping that entire area in memory at once, remembering enemy locations and their movements even while they are off-screen. It's just a guess, but it's the only explanation I could find for the slowdown.
While Hudson Soft may have fallen short in some other categories, the replay value of Bomberman is good, because (a) there are 3 big parts to each stage - 1. Simply solving the puzzle to get past 2. Collecting all the gold cards (some prize? special powerup for getting them all?) and 3. beating the stage within the par time. Because of this alone, you could play this cart for quite some time before you had totally beaten it. (b) the multiplayer mode is a real blast (excuse the pun), especially when you collect extra clothes from the stages for Bomberman!
I rented my copy of the game several times before buying it, and I'm very satisfied with my purchase. This game is great for parties ... the only problem is getting your hands on a controller. In short, if I had to buy the game over again, I would. In my opinion, it's a really nice addition to any collection.
A nice facet of this cart is it's easy-to-master control. The only difficult task is picking up bombs, and you can avoid that by creating them in your hands to begin with (hold B, then press A). Pumping up bombs doesn't take speedy hands, you can pump them up as slow as you like, and I haven't had any explode in my hands yet, so as far as I can tell, they won't blow up while you're holding them. This is one game where you SHOULD read the manual, however - I didn't, and I was about ready take the game back to the video store early and get a different cart when my friend suggested I read it. Moving Bomberman is much like playing Super Mario 64 (but Bomberman can't jump), so if you can control Mario, you should do fine here.
For once, Hudson Soft managed to pull a nice game out of their developers. Usually, anything with their little bumblebee logo could be found in the bargain bin, and in great quantities. Will there be as many versions of Bomberman for N64 as there were for NES? Probably not, but there may at least be a second edition, to fix a few of the shortcomings ... the camera angles and sound effects. The game's cute graphics and fairly easy-to-learn gameplay are attractions for new gamers, while the complex puzzles and extra goals within levels draw veterans.
- While playing Bomberman 64, I didn't really notice the music at all until I went back again to hear it. It did not, however, create any kind of mood for me at all.
- An N64 standard, I haven't seen anything new or spectacular, but the graphics are solid.
- Because of large buildings, underpasses, or tall walls, you often lose sight of Bomberman, and can easily blow yourself up by mistake.
REPLAY VALUE: 7/10
- The gameplay of each mission varies dramatically from level to level. Mission: Impossible gameplay can be both repetitive and unforgiving.
- Despite it's moderate flaws in sound, and lack of special graphics, the game is, overall, a fun cart to play.
- Reviewed by Caleb Wallace