Monday, 22 April 2013

Bomberman Series - Part 9

Bomber Boy a.k.a. Atomic Punk, a.k.a. Dynablaster (1990)
By: Hudson Soft Genre: Maze Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo Game Boy
Also Available For: Nothing

Usually with any long-running videogame series, the first few sequels stick to the same format as the original game while trying to add to it and improve it, but with the Bomberman series the opposite seems to be true. It was among the first few years of the franchise that Hudson experimented with it, trying new styles, features, even main characters, before settling into the routine that would comprise the later and more successful years of their hero's games. I've already looked at a few of these spin-offs earlier in this series of features, the last of which was exclusive to the Game Boy. Nintendo's handheld was blessed by another visit from our explosive friend though, and this game would be a bit more familiar to fans of his better known outings. Indeed, despite again being released outside its native Japan in a Bomberman-less guise, Bomber Boy was unmistakably a Bomberman game, but was it a good one? As always, I was eager to find out...

There are two one-player game modes to choose from and the first one I looked at was... umm, the first one, which is called, appropriately enough, Bomber Boy. There are sixty stages in total which are unevenly spread over eight themed locations (or towns) on the world map. Any of them can be selected except for the final one but once you've chosen one, all its stages must be completed before you can return to the map. With the exception of Hevol, which has a fairly standard Bomberman-ish theme, they all have unique features: Grad is a mountainous area filled with 'warp caves', Cuolece is an icy place with stronger soft blocks, Windria is an annoying area featuring winds that hinder your movement, Thulia is a hilly area where all blocks are destructible, Jagoraz is home to overgrown forests, Wather is a flooded water world, and Faria, the final area, is predictably a harsh and unforgiving place filled with fire and all manner of scary stuff!

Much like most other games in the series, each stage here is completed by finding the exit which is hidden under a random soft block, and unlocking it by defeating all the idiotic enemies present in the usual way. The power-up system, however, is slightly different. They are represented by tiles that you can choose from before a stage begins and there are three different items available initially - Bomb Up, Fire Up, and an Elixir which revives Bomberman if he's killed. Completing some of the towns then unlocks additional power-ups which are selected in the same way. There are six of these which include Speed-Up, Remote Bombs, Wall Pass, Bomb Pass, Fire Pass, and a Timer, which of course extends the otherwise mediumly-strict time-limit. Each tile can only be used once, although its effects last as long as your current life, but the world map also features a shop where you can buy extra power-up tiles using gold which is earned after each stage depending on time remaining and number of soft blocks destroyed.

There are also two rather similar variations of the two-player Vs Mode, and the second of the one-player game modes, which is called Bomber Man, is a port of the original Bomberman game released for the NES. It's a rather splendid bonus I have to say, but it was the Bomber Boy mode that was most interesting for me and accordingly it took up most of my time while playing this too. The graphics and sound are about as good as you'd hope for on the Game Boy - the latter features a smattering of short, repetitive, but catchy tunes while the former presents the stages in a slightly zoomed-in, scrolly manner thanks to the poor Game Boy's rather limited display, but they're quite well varied considering the lack of colour. There's a surprising amount to see and do here as well, and there are even password continues available to help you see it all. To be honest though, the thing I liked most about Bomber Boy is that, despite my initial fears, it's actually a 'proper' Bomberman game. Some of the spin-offs are okay but they're never as much fun as a normal Bomberman game, but this is a good one.

RKS Score: 8/10

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