|Review by||:||Ken Gagne|
To bomb, or not to bomb; that is the question. Hudson delivers an answer gamers will like in Bomberman 64, for the Nintendo 64.
This is the latest installment in what has long been considered the ultimate party game. The Bomberman series originally appeared ten years ago and made its way to practically every game console since. Its first 64-bit showing, Bomberman 64 is sure to please.
The one-player mode has changed drastically, into a 3D, polygonal world, somewhat similar to Super Mario 64. Each level is full of new places to explore in eight directions, and up and down. Reaching the exit is often simply a matter of traversing from point A to B, while other times puzzles must be solved and obstacles overcome. Some levels are one-on-one battles against boss-type creatures. Playing Bomberman by yourself is now probably the most fun its ever been.
The multiplayer battle mode lacks some of the excitement other forms of Bomberman have offered. The diagonal movement introduces a new element, as do the multilevel stages. There are fewer power-ups and gameplay options, and only four players maximum (whereas the Saturn version allows up to ten). It is still a fun romp, but this form of play has taken a backseat to the solo adventure mode.
The graphics are colorful, cute, and distinct. The worlds vary from the coldest mountains to the hottest volcanoes, each portrayed in detail. The characters themselves are usually plain, but not poor. The only drawback to the new graphics system is the changing camera angles. Although players can rotate the view, it is often difficult to find one that allows sight into the nooks and crannies Bomberman may find himself.
The music is equally sufficient. It fails to create the fast-paced atmosphere that should be associated with such mass destruction, but does settle nicely into the background. Sound effects do the bombs justice, but there is little else other than the explosions.
The control is simplistic enough to not be problematic. One button to lay bombs, another to throw them, and the 'C' buttons to change camera angles. Bomberman 64 employs the analog stick for precision moving along precarious perches.
The game starts off with a sharp learning curve to master all the various techniques connected with a bomb's usage, but the necessary skills are quickly acquired. The mundane enemies pose little threat, but the end-level bosses require a bit more work. Later stages present a challenge from the environment itself, as a strong wind threatens to hurl Bomberman off a mountain, or a stray fireball scorch him.
Progress through each adventure world can be saved to a controller memory pack. And, should one find special items during play, a custom Bomberman can be assembled from various head and body pieces, for saving and use in either the single or multiplayer modes.
Bomberman 64 is a highly satisfactory game, with no major flaws and few minor ones. If you're planning a party, Bomberman on another system (especially the Super Nintendo) may serve the purpose better, but the latest incarnation of the explosive series is still worth playing.
This article is copyright (c) 1997, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 22-Dec-97