Bomberman! Bomberman! Does whatever a Bomber can! Spins a... wait a minute, wrong song.
Gaming's classic bombing hero is set to make a comeback this fall, as he'll be starring in new games for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation Portable platforms. Since we're a Sony-centric site, we'll pretend that 360 game doesn't exist.
The PSP game sure does though. I know, I was just playing it on the E3 floor earlier today.
Bomberman for the PSP, despite a bit of a visual overhaul, plays just like the classic Bomberman games of old. Players move their bombers around inside a top-view maze, setting bombs in order to clear away garbage blocks and to eliminate deadly monsters or human-controlled bombermen (depending on whether you play the story mode or battle mode). Power-up items are hidden inside of destructible blocks, which can do things like give you more bombs to set, increase the size of the blast zone, or attach remote-controls to your bombs so that you can detonate the anytime you wish.
All of the usual modes are being included--story, classic, and battle. In the story mode, you control Bomberman as he travels from level to level and world to world eliminating monsters. Levels in the story mode are large and stretch horizontally and vertically. In the classic mode, you have to guide Bomberman through 80+ successive levels. The main differences between the two modes are that levels in the classic mode tend to have a rectangular layout, and there are cut scenes in-between worlds in the story mode.
Of course, when it comes to Bomberman, battle mode is where it's at. In Bomberman for the PSP, as many as 4 players can fight it out in multiple arenas. There are arenas based on the classic "square" layout and there are arenas based on the modern "expansive" layouts. The fun of multiplayer Bomberman is that it's so simple, yet so explosive. With four players running around, all laying bombs and collecting power-ups, the screen quickly turns into a constant succession of explosions and deaths.
Bomberman fans will appreciate that Hudson hasn't gone overboard overhauling the graphics. The game uses the classic top-down view and the bombers and monsters all still look cute and puffy. Sure, the terrain and characters are rendered with 3D polygons and textures now, instead of hand-drawn artwork, but the scale and style of this "new" game is still firmly planted in the old school.
All in all, I had fun trying this one at Sony's E3 booth (if you can call thousands of square feet a booth). I played a dozen rounds of battle mode with a Japanese journalist seated next to me, and we just had a blast laying bombs and trying to out-fox one another. Meanwhile, the story and classic single-player modes seem to be on par with earlier iterations, in that they're there mainly to serve as practice for the battle mode.
Bomberman for the PSP will go on sale in North America later this year. Konami has scored the publishing rights for this one.
5/12/2006 Frank Provo