BomberZone Review - Recalling the NES Bomberman

BomberZone Review - Recalling the NES Bomberman

QUICK GLANCE: BomberZone

  • Platform: PC
  • Players: 1
  • Achievements: Yes
  • Steam Trading Cards: Yes
  • Controller Support : Yes
  • Retail Price: $1.99

High Level Premise: A less fun Bomberman.

Graphics/Style: Decent graphics, but they made the world round, which looks like you’re playing through a fish-eye lens from a 90's rap video.

Music/Soundtrack: 80s guitar rock.

Story: Save Earth from aliens by dropping bombs all over the place. Wait…won’t that destroy the Earth? We didn’t plan this very well, did we?

Replay-ability: Minimal. All upgrades are temporary. All you play for is unlocking new suits and bomb designs.  

Time Commitment: Most games only last about 5 minutes, not because it gets too hard, but because you start to lose focus and make a bone-headed mistake.

Value: It’s only $2, but the nostalgia runs out very quickly.

Favorite Element: Blowing up trees with bombs is a goal. Take that environment!

Sometimes you just need to run away from a bomb.

Sometimes you just need to run away from a bomb.

When I say “Bomberman” I can fairly assume most video game players around my age will recount crazy stories about sitting around the TV for hours with their friends, either on an SNES or a Saturn playing multiplayer Bomberman marathons. What most people forget is Bomberman’s more humble beginning on the NES. The original Bomberman is a fairly slow paced, single-player affair. I don’t care for the original Bomberman very much. It lacks a lot of the elements that made the Bomberman series classic. When I read BomberZone’s Steam page, and it said…and I quote: “The classic maze based strategic bombing game is back.” I was hoping for a throwback to Bomberman’s halcyon days. Unfortunately, I got a warmed over rehash of the original game.

In BomberZone (this is not, in any way I can see, an official Bomberman game) you play a fairly nondescript robot, and you are tasked with trying to save the world from aliens. You will run around the globe (quite literally) dropping bombs to destroy blocks, trees, robots, and various other machines scattered around. The design choice to make the level a literal globe that you run around seems nifty at first, but it severely limits your visibility. It’s nearly impossible to plan out more than a few steps ahead at any point in this game. If anyone remembers the movie Hot Shots! Imagine trying to play as Jon Cryer’s character Washout…that sums it up nicely.

Overall, the game plays fine. I did have more than a few hiccups as I played that suggest the game could still use a little tweaking. Several times the bomb drop button lagged, or didn’t respond at all. I found it disturbingly easy to get stuck on the rocks around the level (to be fair, that was also a hassle in the NES game…but one I never noticed in later Bomberman games). Also, at least one time, the game glitched so badly, I actually got stuck inside a block, unable to move.

I should not be able to stand there! (Got stuck in a rock)

I should not be able to stand there! (Got stuck in a rock)

There are plenty of power ups to try and spice things up a bit. Some of them are quite clever. I especially like the soccer ball power up. The entire level morphs into a soccer pitch, and you can kick your bombs (which now look like soccer balls) long distances. Sadly, the power ups are short lived (again, unlike most Bomberman games where they at least lasted the entire level). I’ve also noticed that the power ups aren’t very easy to come by and in several games I’ve never found any at all.

I have to mention the music. For a game about alien invasions, you’d think the designers would choose something space-themed and exciting. Instead, you get short 80s-inspired guitar solos that repeat several times before shuffling to the next track. The first song sounds like someone heard Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” once, and then tried to copy the riff. I listened to about 3 tracks before I ultimately just muted the music. The rest of the sound effects are fine.

In the end, BomberZone probably lives up to its inspiration - the original NES Bomberman. If BomberZone would have taken just a few cues from some of the other games in the Bomberman series, this could have been a winner. As it is, it’s fair at best for a very short time, but ultimately forgettable.

A common sight...I'm dead.

A common sight...I'm dead.

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