Back in the glory years of the SNES, Bomberman was the Counter-Strike or Halo 2 of the day. With TV appearances on GamesMaster, the little bomb-chucking chaps ran in the same circles as Sonic and Mario, and made waves in the tabloids years before Hot Coffee. Lately, however, he’s fallen on hard times. He’s had the odd release, but nothing you’d call a huge hit, and been forced to try other avenues such as karting or hardball in order to bring in the bacon. Still, perhaps the world isn’t tired of Bomberman. Perhaps he was just waiting for the right comeback vehicle.
He’s found it. Bomberman DS is everything Bomberman should be – frantic, furious fun – with a fistful of innovations that actually improve the game. If there’s any justice in the world, it will be a summer holiday sleeper hit.
Admittedly, it’s not going to win much credit with anyone who plays it on their own. There is a one-player game, in which Bomberman travels through a series of levels, first uncovering a special gate block then exploding all the monsters to open it. Every now and then he faces a more difficult boss creature. The best that can be said is that it’s mildly diverting and makes a good introduction to the principles of the game and some of the new mechanics introduced by this version. It might keep you busy on a boring journey, but this won’t be a love affair that lasts. If you have some friends with DSs, however, it’s safe to say the same does not apply.
Now some of you may be unfamiliar with the Bomberman basics, but it’s all quite simple. The game takes place in a hall filled with columns and blocks. You play a little man who’s main skills are a) dropping bombs and b) running away. Initially, your bombs blow up one block to the top, left, bottom and right, but by blowing up the blocks you uncover upgrades that allow you to drop more than one bomb at a time and increase the effect of the explosion. By destroying the blocks, you can also open up routes to other areas of the hall, where rival little men will be doing exactly the same thing. Your job is then to blow these little men up before they do the same to you.