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Bomberman 64 Review

Publisher - Nintendo
Developer - Hudson Soft
Platform - N64
Type - Platform
Score - 7/10

Bomberman- THE multiplayer game has made the quantum leap into the 64 bit age. The original 16-bit masterpiece: Super Bomberman wasn't much to look at. It was basic and unsophisticated by Super Nintendo's standards. The one player "adventure mode" was boring and unimaginative. And then there was the multiplayer game... the object being to blow the bejesus out of three of your friends. Now THAT was something. Bomberman had the basic mechanics and game engine to make you play nonstop and never get bored. The new bomberman isn't quite the same game as the older incarnations, but it is still fun.

I had incredibly high expectations for the multi-player mode in this game. Super Bomberman was simple, but incredibly entertaining. Bomberman 64 doesn't pull off multiplayer mode as well as it's 16-bit cousin. The integral problem in multiplayer mode is the view. The camera is just too far away from the playing field. The players look tiny and you have to strain to see what's going on. The game also suffers due to its non-planar nature. That's right, this game would be more fun if it were flat.

Bomberman 64 tweaks the ol' engine around a bit. For starters, all players have the ability to pick up, throw, and kick bombs. Also, if you are struck with a moving bomb, you become stunned and unable to move. This kills the chance for bomb kicking ping-pong matches. The stunning however, does allow players to pick up and toss incapacitated players. Another change is that falling off or out of the course knocks you out of contention in multiplayer mode. All of these changes make this a similar experience to the old B-man rather than a carbon copy. The new game, while not as fun as the old one, is still a blast.

A few more peculiarities of the new game include ghosts and player customization. If you get killed in multiplayer mode, you can come back as a translucent ghost. You cannot drop bombs, but you can work with what's on the board and make life miserable for the living. Customization allows you to alter the appearance of your personal bomberman. This has no real affect on gameplay but it looks nifty.

Multiplayer mode is a fun game, but it just doesn't have the appeal to keep you playing for 96 hours straight... um... not that I've... uh... played bomberman for 96 hours straight... uh... really. Moving along...

Like I said earlier, the adventure mode in the 16-bit Super Bomberman was a waste of time. That's changed in Bomberman 64. I have to say that the adventure mode in the new game is better than the multiplayer mode. The engine tweaks and the 3D nature of the game that tend to hold back the multiplayer game make the single player adventure mode a success.

Here's the plot: there are bad guys, and you have to blow them up. Well, actually, there is a little bit more to the plot, but do you really need an excuse to blow things up?

Bomberman is part action and part puzzle. The idea is to unlock peripheral levels to open up a central final level. This involves hitting switches, grabbing big crystals, and beating level bosses. Oh yeah, and blowing things up. The thing that makes bomberman's adventure mode fun is the way in which you interact with the environment. Bomber man cannot jump, or swim, or climb. All he can do is drop bombs. Mario 64 is a great game because of it's freedom of movement. Bomberman 64 is compelling because it limits your movement and forces you to think your way around a corner or up an incline.

Bomberman has very limited movement capabilities; depending on the pressure you apply to the control stick, you can either run or walk, and that's about it. Beyond that, you can drop, kick, throw and pick up bombs. I had some trouble learning to pick up bombs, but the controls are easy to master. Some new things you can do are to pump up bombs and bounce off them. You can drop a bomb and hop onto it from a greater altitude and bounce back off of it. This allows you to traverse gaps in your path. Pumping a bomb up allows you to make larger bombs that can blow up tougher enemies and obstacles. There is no problem in the game you can't solve using a good bomb and a little thought.

There are power-ups that are very similar to old bomberman games. All of the power-ups affect bombs. You can increase the area of effect of your bombs, increase the number of bombs you can drop, and get time bombs. There sure are a lot of bombs in this game.

As fun as adventure mode is, it does have its shortcomings. The biggest problem is the camera view. You can zoom in and out and rotate the camera, but the angle is static. Unlike most N64 games, you can adapt the view to your taste. You'll have to adopt yourself to the view in Bomberman 64. It can be annoying at times, but the game is still very playable.

Another set back is the graphic presentation. The graphics look good most of the time, but the game can look gritty at times. It's also difficult to differentiate one type of enemy from another. This is due more to the poor camera angle than anything else. All of this is forgivable 'cause there's swell background music and a light natured, quirky, spiffyness about the game and its squat protagonist.

Bobmberman 64 is a good game. It may not be as infectious as the original, but its a breath of fresh air in the nebulous excess of racing and fighting games. This is something new and it's a welcome addition to the N64 library.