It's almost ten years now since Bomberman first wowed 'em across the globe with its devilishly addictive yet simple gameplay.
This 'nineties' version was originally released a couple of years ago, and received rapturous acclaim mainly because apart from a 3D graphical update and a few tweaks, it was essentially the same game as the original. Okay played solo and awesome when played with friends, it remains one of the greatest multiplayer games ever devised, especially as there's now a hatful of new character animations and a vast repertoire of spiteful canned and custom taunts. At under five quid you'd have to be loopy not to own a copy. Buy it now.
Download Atomic Bomberman
Atomic Bomberman is blasting its way onto the PC, and it looks like it's bringing with it all the addictive fun of the console versions, including a multiplayer option where up to 10 players can blow each other away. New rendered 3D graphics provide some eye candy--and humorous death sequences. More than 20 power-ups will include everything from detonators to classic B-man diseases that you loved (or hated) the first time around. Two play modes, Classic and Enhanced, and a plethora of custom game options will also be available. Getting bombed was never so much fun!
Boom, baby, boom! Atomic Bomberman successfully brings the console classic's explosive action to the PC, while adding some welcome tweaks in the process.
All the frantic gameplay of multiplayer Bomberman is here, plus Interplay has added an insane 10-player network variant that pits you against humans or computer-controlled drones. Team variations, including an explosive take on volleyball, extend the healthy replay value. If that's not enough, Bomberman also features a level creator so you can make your own arena maps.
It's Da Bomb
The graphics certainly live up to the gameplay, with bright colors and crisply rendered characters. The backgrounds sport nice detail, but sometimes they are too detailed, causing the screen to look messy. On the sound side, there's a lively but uninteresting music soundtrack full of dance beats and wacky noises, while the game's controls are best handled with a joystick (but the keyboard is also reconfigurable).
Atomic Bomberman really preserves the classic series' essential elements and adds only worthwhile enhancements. It's great action for gamers with a short fuse.
- A cheesy but effective way to win on the Coal Mine level is to lay traps by the warp holes.
- Avoid obstacles like trampolines and mine shafts by squeezing around comers as tightly as possible.
- For surprise attacks, use the boxing glove and blue hand power-ups to throw bombs over obstacles, including the outer walls of the arena.
Atomic Bomberman is based on the classic arcade game, Bomberman, developed in the late 1980s. There is no plot at all to this game, and one's mission is quite simple: try to blow everyone else up with bombs while simultaneously avoiding being blown up. While attempting to blow everything to smithereens, a number of crucial pickups are available, not all of which were part of the original game: some of these are extra bombs, "firefaces" that extend a bomb's range, trigger bombs to facilitate remote detonation, roller skates that increase your speed, boxing gloves to punch bombs over obstacles, boots to kick bombs away, and ebola to transmit to opponents three poisons at once. These pickups serve to provide depth to the game and to introduce strategy into what might otherwise turn into a contest that exclusively rewards those with the speediest reflexes.
As might be expected, this game moves at a fast and frenzied pace, with quick reactions and sharp hand-eye coordination absolute necessities. This game is a snap to learn how to play, but it is a challenge to play it well. Both keyboard and joystick/gamepad controls work well in the game.
The options menu for determining settings in the game has to be one of the most poorly-designed I have ever seen. There is no rhyme or reason to the order of items listed in the menu, and many are not immediately clear. Similarly, the level editor included to facilitate custom design of the game is quite difficult to interpret and execute.
Atomic Bomberman is clearly first and foremost a multiplayer game, as although computer-controlled opponents possess decent (decidedly not outstanding) artificial intelligence, there is nothing quite as much fun in this game as playing against other human beings. Up to ten players may play the game at once (though not on ten separate computers), and as the number of players rises, the game becomes even more frenzied. Unfortunately, multiplayer games often suffer from the same jerkiness (discussed below in the System Requirements and Comments section) that interferes with single-player games lacking a full installation on the hard disk. The pace of the bombing is so fast that even the tiniest delays can interfere with the gameplay.
The graphics in this game, while passable, are definitely not outstanding. The colors on the screens seem extremely poorly chosen, with little sense of compatible shades and a general sense of muddy garishness. Rather than wowing you with artistic beauty, many of these screens are actually hard to look at for very long. The best part of the visuals are the animations and the introductory video, both of which are nicely executed.
The music in Atomic Bomberman is nondescript, easily forgettable, and contributes little to the game. The sound effects are pretty standard and quite effective. But it is in the vocal effects that this game shines, with a huge variety of comments interspersed in the gameplay. This variety is so large that you rarely have to worry about encountering the same response over and over again, and although occasionally obnoxious, these voice clips really liven up the game. The incredible attention to vocal effects comes at a steep price, however, as the discussion of system requirements below indicates.
The documentation is minimal, consisting of a brief black-and-white jewel case manual, which seems to assume most buyers are already familiar with the game. What is irritating here is that almost half the manual is devoted to a description of the Interplay web site, a public relations statement from the chief executive officer of Interplay, a statement of customer service, and a limited warranty. If game vendors are going to give us little hard-copy documentation, the least they could do is to devote most of it to information about the game rather than this kind of generic filler.
Required: Pentium 90 CPU, 16 MB RAM, 40 MB hard disk space, a double-speed CD-ROM drive, a SVGA video card, a Sound Blaster or compatible sound card, Windows 95 operating system.
As such, these requirements are unremarkable for a game of this type. However, the reality of playing the game proved to be quite a different story. On my test computer, on which I have successfully installed and played almost 100 recently-released games, I could not get the music and sound to work unless I did a full install, committing well over 500 MB of hard disk space (!!) to this game. When I talked to Interplay's technical support about this, they were nice but could provide no help. When installed on other machines, it appears that on those that did allow the music and sound to play without a full installation on the hard disk, there was a noticeable performance penalty: because sound effects have to be read off the CD-ROM drive with a minimum or medium installation, there are slight pauses in the game when these are accessed, and these often proved to be just enough to prevent you from responding quickly enough to your opponents. With so many sound effects used in the game, they take up (along with the music) over 400 MB, and that is the culprit for this game's space-hoggish nature. Thus, for guaranteed smooth operation of the game on the full range of machines, one has to commit over half a gigabyte of hard disk space, an amount truly outrageous for this kind of arcade game.
Interplay is an excellent company with generally well-designed products, and has in the recent past at least on occasion done a super job introducing spruced-up versions of arcade classics (see, for example, my earlier review of Tempest 2000). But in the case of Atomic Bomberman I cannot help but conclude that Interplay missed the mark. There are just too many areas where dramatic improvements are needed. Thus, while I am thrilled that a game company is realizing that some of the very best computer game ideas involve looking back at the great pioneering video game efforts, I think fans of the original Bomberman and newcomers alike will be disappointed by this particular remake.