Bomberman (DS) review
"** Story Time ** "
** Story Time **
Gather round grandchildren for a little game history. Come on. You can bring your nap-time mats over and make yourself comfortable. No pushing or shoving. Please cut out any/all tom-foolery and horse-play. Jimmy, get that finger outta your nose. Danny, quit pulling Sara’s hair. Mikey, you just sit there quietly, keep eating your paste and pretend to be interested in what’s going on. Quiet down now and be good little rug-rats. Okay. Way back in the day when the comic stylings of a young John Candy were being featured in the masterpiece Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Rubik’s Cubes were all the rage (I have yet to solve that blasted thing) and children everywhere delighted in the Saturday morning cartoon antics of the Smurfs and Gobots, along came a little character known as Bomberman. It was actually the year 1987*. My brother and I played the original NES to the wee hours of the morning, slobbering on our cartridges, trying to get them to work in a machine that was poorly designed – and loving every minute of it. Back in that day, the original Bomberman game consisted of running around a maze, blowing up select walls, in order to find an exit, all while trying to dodge some baddies. Now, let’s jump to the year 2005. Technology has boomed, hand-held devices have long surpassed the technology of the original NES and Bomberman has appeared in a total of 39 games in different languages on different platforms. With all these amazing advancements the new Bomberman DS single player game consists of (…now catch this…) running around a maze, blowing up select walls, in order to find an exit, all while trying to dodge some baddies. Whoa, I just had a deja-vu. In short, that’s this old coot’s biggest gripe with Bomberman DS. It’s the same basic game released on the NES with very few new bells and whistles. There is multi-player, but this too has all been done before in other bomberman games.
** Going It Alone **
In the single player mission of Bomberman DS, you must collect shards of a broken crystal that exploded in the opening animation. I guess!? Why? I don’t know. It’s never explained. And to think of it, they never show you retrieving crystal shards even after you’ve beaten a boss. Anyways, you’re put into a maze where you can blow up certain walls with bombs (thus the name Bomberman). Underneath one of the many combustible walls is an exit. Bomberman must find this exit by blasting away the walls. But, before he/she can use the exit, Bomberman must exterminate – by way of the bomb, all the enemies on the stage. There are a total of 10 levels, each with 10 stages. If you haven’t hit advanced Calc yet that’s 100 different stages. There’s also a boss battle that serves as the last stage of each level. The boss battles are uneventful and easily solved. Going through the single player game, much like this review, gets very tedious towards the middle. I will say, however, that the single player mission did make some good entertainment while I was in the bathroom straining to…oh wait…nobody wants to hear that.
** Controlling the Madness **
I find it necessary at this point to go over the controls as it’s slightly different in the one player mode as opposed to the multiplayer. The basic controls are simple. Move your bomberman around with the directional pad and plant bombs using the A button. The difference is that in one player, on the touch screen appears different power ups that you’ve gathered along the way. You can use the stylus or thumb pad to tap a power-up thereby enabling it. Unused power-ups carry over stage to stage until you use them up. I found this scheme poor actually. In the heat of battle, you really don’t have time to cycle through the power ups and enable them. Fortunately, before each stage you have the opportunity to enable power ups before starting. In multiplayer the touch screen is used to make the game field bigger. You can also use the stylus for revenge. No, I don’t mean poking the friend next to you when he blows you up. I’ll tell you about revenge later.
** Multi-player Mayhem **
I have to admit multiplayer is where Bomberman ultimately shines. First, it only takes one copy of the game and up to eight people can play wirelessly. The object is simple: To blow up all the other bombermen and be the last bomberman standing: A goal I have yet to accomplish with my friends. The touch screen in this mode is used to make the stage bigger. Connecting the top and bottom portions are pipes you can walk through. By making the game play area bigger via both screens, it accommodates all eight players comfortably. If you only have a couple of friends to play with, you can add bots (Computer controlled players) to fill in the gaps. The AI for these little guys is pretty decent. The bot we had playing was a worthy contender and gave us a run for our money. I’m not sure if that says more about the AI or my friends and I as players. Another noteworthy feature is that once you’re dead, your game is not necessarily over. Using the touchpad you can fling bombs at the players still in the game. Knock one out with a bomb and you’re back in. This is the tactic known as Revenge - and let me tell you…Revenge is sweet, although controlling where you fling the bombs is more of an art than an exact science. Also, in Bomberman multiplayer, there are more options to customize your game than there are chicks that have shot me down over the years – and that’s a lot. There are also different maps consisting of conveyor belts, see-saws, trap doors and other worth while endeavors. See-saws were especially good as you could use them to fling bombs and bombermen all over the screen. Finally, there’s also the ability on the DS to use voice activated bombs and shields. In other words you can place bombs or hold up your shield by speaking into the DS. This works great and can add to the fun. However, there is a fatal flaw in this. If you and your buddies are too close in proximity, when they call for a bomb to be released, your machine may pick it up, thereby causing your bomberman to release a bomb. If your friend should pick up on this, he can try to sabotage you by forcing your bomberman to release bombs in the most unfortunate situations and lead to your demise. This can either add to the fun or become grating, and luckily it can be turned off depending on your preference. So, if you like blowing your friends up, and who doesn’t, get this game. Enough said, multiplayer is great. Again though, it’s still not anything you haven’t seen in previous iterations of the game, except maybe the voice control and revenge factor.
** The Sounds are Da Bomb – (get it…da bomb…it’s Bomberman) **
The sound is great – for about 15 seconds. However, this is more a praise for the DS than it is Bomberman. Bomberman’s tunes are a collection of dated little ditties that would fit right in during the 16-bit days, and which loop for all eternity. Fortunately, the DS sound hardware makes the songs sound better than they actually are. The music, no matter how good, will get monotonous…ever looping…never stopping…tingling on and on and on. Finally, once the tunes have stopped, they start up again…ever looping…never stopping…tingling on and on and on. See, that’s pretty much what it’s like. I kind of envision Hell playing this music…ever looping…never stopping…tingling on and on and on. Again, though, the DS hardware makes them sound pretty good. Some of the music also seemed inappropriate. Level 5 of the single player mission takes place in a cemetery. One would expect some eerie music to go along with the map. Instead you get a trite little ditty that plays…ever looping…never stopping…(aaahhh you get it). There is also little voice samples such as “Bomb up” or “Speed up” when you get the corresponding power up. Believe me when I tell you that these voice samples add incredible depth to the game and never, ever get old. This children, is what we call sarcasm.
** The Bottom Line **
People read reviews in order to determine if a game is worth getting or if you’re like me, because you need to fill up your time at work. I’m going to put this fairly straight forward. If you’re looking for a good DS multiplayer game, this is a good buy which you’ll come back to time and time again. I still can’t get used to the fact that you only need 1 copy of the game and no link cable (…go ahead and say it, “Hey stupid, this is what you paid $150 bucks for. It’s called wireless”). If you’re looking for a good story and a 1 player mission that’s not frustratingly long and boring…head a different direction. This bomberman is nothing you haven’t seen before in 38 other iterations of Bomberman; Graphics are 2D and nothing to be impressed by, the music is simply do-able and the game play can get rather tedious.
** Retrospective **
Now looking back on this review in retrospect, I realize that when I started out, playing the game, taking notes, etc., I was merely a Bomberboy. But now, after the good times and the bad, the trials and the tribulations, and a trip to the bedroom with a bombergirl, I’m happy to report, I have come back…a BomberMan.
* If you want to be technical about it, the 1987 bomberman is based on the 1984 game Eric and the Floaters. I’m afraid to ask what’s meant by “Floaters.”
Community review by thespeaker (September 16, 2005)
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