Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Pocket Bomberman - The game where Bomberman learns how to jump.
When the Gameboy Color first came out, this was the first game I ever bought for it. Why? Well, just look at the box art! It features Bomberman in battle armor (with flowing cape!) about to fight a skull dragon near a waterfall. I don't care who you are, it left a cool impression on me when I first ran across it. But the game itself was actually pretty cool too, it tried to do something different with the classic Bomberman formula. While I wouldn't call it a resounding success that forever changed the way Bomberman games were made, it was still a very interesting experiment for sure.
Pocket Bomberman was released in 1998 for the original Gameboy, but had a "Color" version come out a few months later. As usual, Hudson was behind the development of this little handheld game. Normally, bomerbman games are multiplayer experiences, but this game joins the select few titles where such a mode isn't available as this is purely a solitary experience. Starting up the game, you're treated to brief well-made cinematic intro telling a story about a land shrouded in darkness. In order to restore the light to the world, it's up to our hero, Bomberman, to find the 5 power stones and save us all, from darkness, yeah this isn't too exciting. Bomberman brandishing his sword was pretty cool though. Too bad that sword is a huge lie as your only means of attack are nothing but bombs! A bit more on this a little bit later.
This game has 25 levels, each split into 5 areas: jungle, wind, ocean, cloud, and evil. Instead of the over-top-camera view that most Bomberman games use, this one is 2D-sidescroller where you can jump! All the levels are pretty self-contained, as your objective is to kill everyone before you can enter the "exit" door. You pick up traditional Bomberman powerups like "bomb up" or "fire up" to upgrade your firepower, but be careful not to blow yourself up first! Really, the game itself is pretty easy, the biggest threat in the game is YOURSELF! There will be plenty of times where you try to be clever by using bombs as a jumping platform only to miss the timing and end up trapped in a hole with a bomb ready to go off right above you. On the 5 level of an area, you fight a boss who can pretty much move anywhere it wants to. You need to rely on pattern recognition and trap the boss in your bombastic fury.
This game's graphics are pretty colorful, but they look just as well on the regular gameboy as they do in color. It's a shame that the Bomberman sprite doesn't have the cool armor that he uses in the cinematics and the box art, that loses major points with me! The enemies and bosses are based off of monsters from previous games, so there's nothing terribly special going on here. True to the franchise, however, is the great music. As expected, this game is chock-full of classic bomberman tunes. In fact, I guarantee you'll be remember the first area's theme pretty well if you're bomberman fan!
It's a cute little game that is a bit on the short side with only 25 levels. To extend longevity, there's a special mode called "Jump Mode" where Bomberman is jumping forever and you need to plant bombs, avoid attacks, and climb upwards as far as possible before blowing yourself up. Beware, though, because this even on "Easy" this mode is pretty tricky! My biggest gripe with this game however, is that there is no swordplay in this game. Bomberman has a sword in the box art and cinematics, but NEVER USES IT! What the hell, man? That's like false-advertising or something but if Bomberman used a sword instead of bombs then he'd be known as Swordsman, right?! Oh god. Other than that, this game is pretty cool with me. Of course, this isn't the only game to feature a jumping Bomberman, there's actually a few of them! We'll talk about the N64 game sometime down the road. In the meantime, check out some gameplay footage.