Sunday, February 15, 2015

Game Review: Bomberman 64

The weather is chilly just like this level
After a considerably long hiatus from making any game reviews, I figure it's time for me to break out another game review for this month of February. This vintage game review will highlight another childhood gameplay experience of mine that left some sort of impression on me from a creative standpoint. It was well after I acquired my first Nintendo 64 console that I started digging into the games, and there was one game that I developed an interest in playing mainly because of one element.


You can stop ducking for cover now. I have made it no secret to those close to me that my game writing style depicts that of a thrilling action-adventure story, one where everything just seems to blow up in big fireballs. I love the idea of just throwing a bomb at something and watch that something explode. The game I am reviewing here, Bomberman 64, features a seemingly Average Joe person called Bombeman, a guy who is capable of throwing many kinds of bombs at obstacles and opponents. Many gamers remember this franchise from its very early roots in the NES and SNES days, so up until this point gamers had never seen Bomberman take on the 3D gaming world. So how did Bomberman do in his first N64 game? 

Controls - 18 out of 20 Points

In my opinion, I only received a brief hint of these gameplay controls being a bit rigid in its ways, but overall I got used to these controls. The only thing that I really didn't like at all about this game was that I wasn't given the option to jump. When I first started playing this game back in the day I assumed that since Bomberman 64 took on the looks of a Platforming-ish game that it would feature Bomberman jumping, but no. Reflecting more on this, however, I believe the gameplay controls were more centered on relating to that of a Puzzle game, which suits me just fine. I had to figure out how to open certain paths with the help of bombs and I had to figure out how to get past certain enemies that were blocking my paths by throwing bombs at them.

One little nitpick about the bomb throwing mechanics would be that I had to press a button twice to throw a bomb. This proved to be dangerous sometimes when I was near an enemy. If Bomberman got hit while still holding a bomb, he could have had that bomb hit him on the head, or worse, blow up in his face. Like I said, I got a brief hint or two of these controls being rigid, as in once I did something I couldn't take it back. As long as you get a grip of the controls, you should be good to go.

Move over, Tony Stark! Here's the new Iron-Man!

Graphics - 17 out of 20 Points

Considering the capabilities of the Nintendo 64, I believe these graphics were really good. I believe considering all Hudson Soft had to work with in this time they did a solid job of bringing the world of Bomberman to life in the 64-bit arena. There were points in the game where it was obvious that some of the graphics were choppy and flashy, but really that is the arcade-like appeal of this game. Bomberman 64 in many respects felt like a game where you could blitz through it as if you were playing on an arcade machine, so the graphics for this game were very much appropriate. The colors of the graphics were certainly bright enough for me to tell the difference between objects and enemies. 

Story - 12 out of 20 Points

It's honestly not a matter of me calling this story bad or terrible because a score of 12 here is considered above average. However, Bomberman 64's story was the kind of story that I just could never warm up to extensively. I mean, I could warm up to a few small parts of the story and relate to those parts, but overall I wouldn't call this the best example of proper video game storytelling.   Some story elements truly felt out of place and unnecessary even for something as whimsical as Bomberman stories can be. A few of the bosses that I went up against were some enemy types I would like to forget about because those weren't the types of enemies I would envision for my own custom game. 

I will say this about the story, though. The general idea of a betrayal storyline was the right call. It's just that the execution wasn't all that ideal. It was rather rushed after you collected all golden cards that were scattered throughout all first 5 levels of the game. All of a sudden, a character whom you considered to be your friend just so happened to be the ultimate villain in the game, and that he was only using you to further his own agenda. The general idea is definitely solid and that alone scores points in my book.

Music - 15 out of 20 Points

A solid representation of video game music beats here. I liked the approach that Hudson took while developing the soundtrack for this game. Most of the soundtracks that you hear in this game are fitting for the environment that they are placed in and the music sometimes carries you through the gameplay experience, which is a plus. I found myself scat singing along with Bomberman 64's music, so I certainly had fun listening to these beats. It's about what you would expect if you are an Anime fan, joyous and whimsical-like music that's somewhat amplified to the "Take No Prisoners" level of fun. At least that's how I view it.

Replayability Factor - 20 out of 20 Points

I think you know where I'm going with this. What is the core reason why we play Bomberman games? For the Story Mode? Nope. We mainly play Bomberman games for their Multiplayer Modes. There is just something about Multiplayer and Bomberman that fits together like a glove... or a Bomb Glove, if you will. For those of you who don't really care all that much about the Story Mode and want to plug away at Multiplayer Mode, then Bomberman 64 would be one great candidate to play if you are into vintage stuff.

Sometimes when I regularly played Bomberman 64 that's all I ended up doing for a gaming session. I just went right to the Multiplayer Mode and started throwing bombs at everybody else. Simple fun that's straight to the point. Also in Multiplayer Mode you could modify settings to make sure that you and your friends would do battle the way that you wanted, such as to determine how many wins it would take to be crowned "Champion", and the champion's celebration victory dance was nothing short of hilarious at times. Bomberman just busting a move dancing... Classic.

Multiplayer Mode: What makes Bomberman... Bomberman!
Overall Score: 82 out of 100 Points (No Bonus Points)

When looking through the old Nintendo 64 library, I would suggest not to hesitate when you take a look at this game. There may be a few things that may look off-putting, but those are things I wouldn't consider to be bad. Bomberman 64 is definitely a playable and enjoyable experience especially if you just want to chill out and have fun with your friends in the Multiplayer Mode. If you are able to be patient enough to solve the puzzles that the Story Mode will present to you, then you will be rewarded in the form of new attires for your own Bomberman to wear when battle commences in Multiplayer Mode. 

Truth be told, it was Bomberman 64 that initially got me hooked onto the entire Bomberman gameplay experience. Even to this day I like the idea of blowing up things while playing video games and Bomberman was the first one to really introduce me to this dynamic of gameplay. Playing games like this one remind you of the action-adventure movies that you watch, especially when the hero just avoids getting hit by the bad guy and then something blows up at the last second. It's that kind of surprising feeling you get when you play a Bomberman game. This is no different. 

"Time for my victory dance after mass destruction!"

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