Out now! All new Bomberman! How in Extreme-Jerkyvision!
If you were trying to judge Bomberman Hero just from looking at screenshots (as you might if you were looking at the box in a shop) then you might conclude that it's a fairly good game. After all, it's colourful, the characters are nicely designed, there is a massive number of levels and the graphics aren't bad - aside from the usual slightly muddy effect that many PAL N64 games suffer from. Plus, of course, it's a Bomberman game, and as a rule the big-headed little fellow with the oblong eyes usually holds the promise of something fairly good.
Sadly, if you actually bought the game and took it home, lovingly unwrapped the crisp cellophane and popped the cart into your beloved N64, then when you turned the power on you'd be in for a bit of a disappointment. Of course, you'd know that if you'd bothered to read our import review back in issue 15!
Who Ate All The Pibots?
For the UK version of Bomberman Hero has all the flaws of the Japanese version apart from one - the obvious language problem - but it makes up for that by introducing a few problems of its own -an innate jerkiness and nasty slowdown on some levels. Oh... and did we mention pop-up?
The story (for those who like that sort of thing) is fairly simple. The beautiful if barely animated Princess Millian of Primus Star - having been demoted from Queen since the NTSC version, presumably for wooden acting - has been kidnapped by the evil forces of the Garaden Empire. Rather than sending a huge space fleet to Garaden armed with tactical nukes, the Primus Starians leave the rescue in the hands of that demolition midget Bomberman and his sidekick Pibot.
Of course, rescuing the Princess would never involve anything as simple as just finding her, grabbing her and running. Instead Bomberman must make his way across five planets, each with numerous levels and huge bosses, and several times almost reach the Princess, only to have her snatched from his grasp at the last minute.
Each planet in the game is divided into three different areas, and each area into different levels. What this means is that the levels themselves are fairly short. As result, you can often run right through of the levels in about a minute or so. Now obviously you're not supposed to do this; the idea is to collect all the pink and blue gems, uncover all the secrets, and kill all the bad guys. The only problem is, after the first half-hour or so of playing, there's just no incentive to do this. You soon find yourself running through level after level just to finish each so you can get the game over with!
Explosive Success Or Damp Squib?
There are some nice ideas in the game and some innovative enemies, and Bomberman does respond well. However everything moves like you're playing in treacle - and that's even before the slow-down kicks in! Even the introduction of the power-gear does little to relieve the tedium, and the underwater gear actually makes things worse, the fixed camera angle making these sections particularly unexciting.
Bomberman Hero could have been a good game, but sadly as a result of the speed of play, the uninspiring gameplay and the tedium of many of the levels, it's not. Steer well clear!
2nd rating opinion
What a comedown for Bomberman! The once-great hero has been reduced to taking part in doddlesome platform games. Whatever happened to the fantastic gameptay of SNES Super Bomberman? Come on Hudson, sort it out!
Bomberman Hero DownloadsBomberman Hero download
Further tweaks to the 3D platform game, but the multiplayer's gone for a Burton.
Picture this: after the release of Bomberman 64, Hudson Soft gather up all the magazine reviews from around the world. They check the Internet to see what online gamers have to say. They call in a focus group, who play the game while sipping tea and munching their way through several packs of biscuits. The end result of all this is that they know what people consider to be the shortcomings of the first game, and what gamers want out of the next one.
'Improved camera control', goes the wish-list. 'Bigger levels. More challenging puzzles. A multiplayer game that's as good as the one from SNES Super Bomberman. A general extension of the Bomberman character's unique videogame characteristics. And, for God's sake, don't make the next one into just another identikit platformer'.
The focus group departs, leaving behind nothing but biscuit crumbs and a strange peaty aroma. Hudson Soft's top suits then sit down around a big table and ponder the results of their survey. And then completely ignore them.
It's Da Bomb
Bomberman Hero: Queen Milian's Rescue (to give its full title) involves, as even the slowest-witted will no doubt have worked out by now, the rescuing of Milian, a queen, by the hero, who is Bomberman. The storyline, being in Japanese, the exact details are rather hard to determine, but from the frequent cut-scenes it appears that some guy in blue armour has kidnapped her majesty for purposes malign. Only Bomberman and his robot mate, a techno-dancing pommed protagonist leaping around and chucking bombs like a terrorist version of Mario.
Another change is the camera; going against the grain of Nintendo's intentions for the N64 and those four little yellow buttons on the controller, Bomberman Hero has only a single camera angle. Although you can doesn't so much possess a learning curve a leftover from The Space Sentinels, can save her!
The obvious change that has taken place between Bomberman 64 and Bomberman Hero is the addition of... wait for it... a jump button. Do what? Even though Bomberman 64 was, in terms of looks, a platform game, it at least approached it in an innovative way by forcing players to make tactical use of their bombs to get around the levels. Bomberman Hero, on the other hand, has the pom-rotate the camera slightly to judge distances better, 99 per cent of the time you're looking at the levels from one side, the camera tracking as Bomberman runs around. It's like a stage set - Kenneth Brannagh is Bomberman at the Old Vic!
In order to stop things getting in the way like a basketball player in a top hat in front of you at the cinema, the levels have for the most part been designed so that potential obstacles don't obscure your view of the action.
When they do, which fortunately happens fairly infrequently, it's all but impossible to work out where you are or exactly what you're doing, because you can't shift to a better camera angle! The annoying thing is that when this happens, you're invariably either under attack from Bomberman Hero's numerous wacky monsters, or perilously close to the edge of a ledge above a pool of lava. One slip and it's Bomberman flambe.
It's-а Me! Bomberman!
The transformation of the Bomberman games from action puzzlers into platform games with bombs is now complete. Bomberman's controls are all but identical to those of Mario, all that's missing being the traditional bottom-bounce. He can leap like a loon, push objects around and even dangle precariously from ledges, though how he manages this when his ballshaped hands are noticeably lacking in dextrous digits is something of a mystery. Although water is still unaccountably lethal (maybe it stifles his fuse or something), Bombie can now at least wade through shallow pools, so death isn't quite as common as it was in Bomberman 64.
In addition to the numerous platform stages, which make up the bulk of the game, Bomberman Hero also boasts several sub-levels where the hero in a bobble hat is transformed into a variety of death-dealing vehicles in the manner of the old Centurions cartoon (see the 'Power Extreme!' boxout). For these levels, the game changes into a kind of mini-Lylat Wars as Bomberman hurtles down the trench-like levels, shooting everything in sight. Well, maybe 'hurtles' isn't quite the right word. 'Ambles', perhaps, or 'strolls', if you can be said to stroll in a jetpack.
Also in the style of Lylat Wars, unfortunately, these sections are somewhat on the easy side. With a very few exceptions, where a specific task (either destroying all the enemies or collecting a certain object) has to be performed, even an irate rhino would have the necessary joypad dexterity to reach the end of the level.
In fact, this kind of easiness is something that permeates Bomberman Hero like cigarette smoke in a nightclub. I sense the dread hand of Nintendo at work, insisting that all N64 games are nice and easy so as not to frustrate anyone. Which is fair enough, so long as ease in early stages is to allow gamers to get used to the controls and the special tricks of their character before moving on to more challenging matters.
Bomberman Hero doesn't quite get this right. Things are nice and simple to begin with, allowing gamers to get used to the controls and the special tricks of their character before moving on to more challenging matters.
Which never appear. The five main worlds of the game flick by almost in a blur, individual stages scarcely even having the time to register on the retina before Bomberman is through the exit and onto the next. Only the levels that vary from the usual platform formula - a low-gravity stage where a jump propels Bomberman 50 feet into the air; a room where the platforms can only be seen in a mirror on the back wall, effectively reversing the controls; a rather annoying pair of levels where Bomberman rides a kangaroo and has to make carefully-timed jumps from wall to wall to proceed - stick in the memory.
Making the extreme simplicity of completing the levels all the more insulting is their small size. Bomberman 64 at least sprawled a bit, requiring the player to complete tasks in one section before going back to a previously impassable obstacle. In Bomberman Hero, once a level is finished, that's it, and it is all too common that a new stage can be entered, explored and departed in just a minute or two without anything even vaguely obstructive getting in the way. Only the bosses present any kind of challenge, and even they succumb to your bombs after a couple of attempts. Should you somehow run out of lives, never mind -you've got infinite continues. The game doesn't so much possess a learning curve as a flatline.
No Challenge TV
While Bomberman Hero improves on its predecessor in some ways - the enemies are more varied, the controls more precise and, when they move away from the usual platform stuff, the levels have some quite imaginative touches - it is devoid of real challenge. Sure, some people might whinge (as they did about Yoshi's Story) that the real point of the game isn't just to finish, it's to collect every gem and find secret items - but if that's the case, why not make the game so that you damn well have to find everything in the first place? That's why I prefer Mischief Makers to Yoshi's Story - it's still a satisfying challenge even if you don't go the extra mile for the secrets. Making the player work to reach the exit makes a lot more sense than just leaving it invitingly open and making vague promises about bonus stuff for the conscientious.
The final problem I have with Bomberman Hero is, quite simply, this: where the hell is the multiplayer game?
Sequel to the above which makes the huge mistake of being even easier and dispensing entirely with a multiplayer game.
Uninspiring 3D adventure, but strangely compulsive at times. Up against Banjo, mind, it looks a tad tired. And there's no multiplayer.
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