It’s easy, but Bomberman has always been a game of tactics as much as reaction. Anyone with a modicum of sense can sidestep a bomb, but the trick is to force the other players into corners or hope they get flustered enough to make a big mistake. Even in it’s most primitive form it works brilliantly. The brilliance with the DS reworking is that they’ve added to the recipe without doing anything to spoil the taste.
In fact, there’s been a stupid amount of smart thinking going on. First – and this is one reason why the DS is a perfect vehicle – it’s ludicrously easy to set up a game across the wireless link. Secondly, while a cheap-minded publisher would have forced every player to have their own copy, or only make a portion of the content available to download across the connection, Bomberman DS lets you support eight-player matches with every available option from the one cartridge. Switch on, set up a game, and anyone with a DS in range can join in. If your numbers are limited, don’t worry. You can always add the game’s fiendish bots into the mix.
A second touch of brilliance: Bomberman DS uses the touchscreen and the microphone to expand the game’s horizons. Most multiplayer games are played across both screens, with the two areas connected by tunnels. Even better, death is no longer the end; in most game modes, it merely puts the player at the bottom of the screen, from where he can use the touchscreen to lob bombs into the arena. This means you can’t win, but you can help decide who does, or even force a draw. Ah, sweet revenge!
The microphone, meanwhile, allows for three new variants. In one, you can use a voice command to set the bombs, and in another you use it to raise a shield. The one you’ll all end up playing, however, is the one in which you say ‘kaboom’ to detonate. In fact, you don’t even have to say ‘kaboom’ – a wide variety of choice expletives will work every bit as well! Needless to say, it’s all a bit juvenile, but it makes Bomberman the sort of game that causes plenty of after-pub hilarity, yet is still safe to play with a bunch of six-year olds once your hangover subsides.