Bomberman is the perfect type of game for the 360’s Arcade. It is fast, fun, pick-up-and-playable, and built with multiplayer as the key gameplay ingredient.
Bomberman has been around since the late 80’s. He has spawned numerous sequels (on just about every console since NES), participated in spin-offs (Bomberman Fantasy Race), and even teamed up with unlikely counterparts (Mario’s doppelganger Wario). But even though there have been many games with the name “Bomberman” in the title, he fits best within the destructible maze like setting that he was born in. Just be sure to play this game with some friends.
If you never played a Bomberman title before, you will have no difficulty learning how to play. The game is played from a top-down perspective of a maze-like battle field filled with some destructible and some indestructible blocks. Each player plays as a different colored Bomberman where the goal is to blast your opponents away by dropping bombs. The explosions of the bombs travel in a horizontal and vertical path, so knowing when you run and take cover is a must. When destructible pieces of the environment are destroyed, they often leave behind some type of power-up. For example, fire icons increase the size of each bomb’s explosion, bomb icons let you drop multiple bombs on the field at one time, and a foot icon lets you kick your bombs across the screen. By the end of every match, each player will be firing off numerous huge explosions, generating a sense of panic and urgency within every single game. The last one standing wins.
This is the same tried and true gameplay formula that gamers have been addicted to for years. The key to keeping the game fresh lies within the different stages, power-ups, and game and character customization. Bomberman LIVE features many stages, each with a specific trait. For example, the desert stage has quicksand and if you step in it, you will be stuck. One level has teleports spread throughout the stage letting players randomly jump from portal to portal. One stage even has tons of items just lying in the center of the screen, making haste to the middle a key to survival.
When playing single player against bots, the player will sometimes come across a glowing golden orb. If these orbs are collected, a new costume part can be used to customize your Bomberman. While changing the cosmetic appeal of your onscreen avatar is entertaining and even humorous, it is also required if the player wishes to unlock a couple of the game’s Achievements. Hundreds of combinations of these cosmetic changes are possible.
The developers wanted to keep this game simple while achieving maximum fun. And for the most part, they have done that. Bomberman LIVE has been built from the ground up with multiplayer capabilities in mind. You and three other friends can play a local multiplayer game on one console, or you can bring them online for 8-player death match. Just like Halo 2, it is great to see developers allowing multiple gamers play off one Xbox Live GamerTag online.
But even when a player gets blown away, they are not out for the count. To keep the gameplay fast and exciting, Revenge Mode can be turned on. Once a player has been defeated, he instantly mans a vehicle that rides on the boarder of the stage. This defeated player then has the opportunity to continue to drop bombs on the remaining players, never allowing a dull moment of gameplay. Also, if Super Revenge Mode is turned on, the defeated players have a chance at getting back into the gameplay. If the knocked out player bombs a remaining player, they immediately switch positions, allowing the once defeated player another chance at victory. Very cool.
Playing this game single player is like playing against a brick wall. The enemy A.I. is pretty stupid, even on the higher difficulties. But the game does offer several types of gameplay modes besides last-man-standing. There is a paint-mode, where the explosion of your bomb paints the ground your color. The player with the most paint when time runs out is the winner.
The developers even made use of the horribly underused Xbox Live Vision camera. If turned on, the game will automatically take a picture of the winner for all of the losers to see. This feature is more or less a bullet point for the marketing of the game. No one really uses an Xbox Live Vision camera, and if they did, do they really want strangers looking at them in their home? Whether this feature is used or not, it is still a neat extra that proves that this game was crafted with care and was developed for the fans.
Even though this game is blast, it is not without its flaws. On occasion, I did experience a decent amount of lag. It got pretty bad at times where opponents would be magically teleporting from one side of the screen to the other. Also, my game crashed…twice! I thought it was a total fluke the first time it happened until my game crashed again ten minutes later. And I’m talking – it crashed my 360 big time. So much so that I couldn’t even pull up the console’s guide button. I had to get up and manually turn the system off to reboot. Ouch.
The game also lacks a Team-Mode. It would have been great if some type of co-op mode was enabled (like 4 vs 4), but gamers are solely stuck with a free-for-all last man standing mode. Perhaps this feature will be offered on the 360 Marketplace in time.
The visuals definitely fit the mood for not only a Bomberman title, but also for a Live Arcade title. The audio department fits this bill as well. This series is not about glitz and glamour. This title is about good clean multiplayer fun.
For 800 Microsoft Points, Bomberman LIVE is a no-brainer and stands as one of the Arcade’s elite games. Bomberman has never been about how many polygons can be used to make that little ball thingy on Bomberman’s head, or about the latest bump-mapping technology techniques. Bomberman is all about having that easy to play, casual multiplayer gaming session…the same motif that all Live Arcade should possess. Do yourself a favor and purchase this game as soon as possible.