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Super B-Daman Battle Pheonix 64 Review

Publisher - Hudson Soft
Developer - Hudson Soft
Platform - N64
Type - Action
Score - 4/10

[This is an import review, meaning the game has not been released in the US. You can purchase such Japanese games in game import stores, but they require the use of a simple (and cheap) converter. If this game is ever released in the US, we will re-review, taking into consideration all the changes and additions.]

With only few Japanese developers working on third-party N64 titles, it's no surprise that some of the more active companies from the 16-bit days have become even more prolific. Next to Imagineer and Konami, Hudson seems to be putting out about one game every month. Unfortunately, for every Bomberman with potential wold-wide appeal, there is one obscure Japanesey title that just won't cut it overseas. Super B-Daman Battle Phoenix 64 is one of them.

B-Daman, based on a popular toy series of robots with springs that can shoot marbles from their stomachs, is sort of like a light gun shooter without a light gun. Players first select their character from a cast of robots, then move variety of game modes, each with their own controls. Here are a few examples:

Dino Chase: You are sitting backwards in a car driving away from two dinosaurs that run after you with their mouths open. Shoot marbles into their mouths to get points. If you don't hit them, they will approach and bite you. You have no control over the car and you can only aim left and right.

Mine Car Shooting: You are sitting in a mine car driving through some primary colored tunnels. Using the analog stick you shoot down "+" and "-" buttons with the help of a target. You have no control over the car.

Pool Battle: You're sitting on top of a pool table and aim left and right to shoot simpliefied pool balls into holes. After you have shot, your character turns into a ball and the other player gets a go. The fact that you can be knocked out of the way or into a hole when in ball form adds an interesting twist.

Power Crash: You're sitting in a shooting range. Random polygon objects come flying into the screen. Shoot them using your target.

Mole Attack: You're sitting in "Well, somewhere" and moles come out from holes on the ground and on the walls. Shoot balls at them to get points.

You either compete against another player, or square off against the computer. If you get more points than the computer, you move on to the next challenge (except for in free play mode). If you don't, you don't. Although there is a large variety of modes, none of the above (or even the hidden ones) are executed very well. Seriously, it's all about "sitting." Even the two-player mode won't save this title from becoming boring within a day. The real problem is that this type of genre usually lives off the thrill of the graphics or the fact that players have to use light guns to aim at objects (like in Point Blank). Unfortunately, Hudson developed this game without consulting hardware makers, so there is no light gun support even if a company released a light gun in the future. What you're left with is a cute, but simplistic point and shoot game that will only sell (in Japan) on the base of its B-Daman license.

Why is it that every company manages to steadily improve the graphics in its games, but Hudson seems to be stuck in this perpetual "as long as it's polygonal it looks good" mode. Textures are basic and colorful and there are a few polygonal effects, but nothing really stands out. It's smooth, but you've seen it all before hundreds of times in the glut of 16-bit trash titles that never left Japan.

Did you like the music in Bomberman? It's the same style here -- only that you won't remember a single melody after you switch the game off.

The two-player versus modes give the game a much needed push, but the gameplay mechanics are so simplistic, it will get old even if you love to go head-to-head against a buddy. The added four-player battle mode (a sort of overhead view, all on one screen battle where you try to shoot each other off a platform), is utterly forgettable and seems to have been thrown in just for good measure.

64GB Pak
There had to be a gadget in here somewhere, right? Well, instead of a light gun, we get 64GB Pak support. If you're the proud owner of B-Daman for the Game Boy, you can import item data into the N64 version. Like other 64GB compatible games, such as Pokemon Stadium, the idea here is to raise the replay value of both titles. It's a cool idea, and I would probably be more excited if the N64 version was a little more fun.

B-Daman is a pretty lame game. It's got some interesting ideas and it's different from anything else out there right now, but I would hate to shell out $50 for this one. The game's main attraction comes from the fact that you compete against another player, but even that will get old after a while. If you've ever been to Japan, you probably know the array of crazy little "fun machines" in arcades. Put in a coin and you get to shoot marbles at silly looking targets or hit moles on their heads with a padded hammer. Well, it's fun in the arcades -- the same stuff just doesn't work at home.