Review #1 by Kevin Cheung
There are only a handful of mascots that have actually survived every generation leap in the videogame industry. Mario and Rockman (aka Megaman) are two of them. Then there's also the cult favorite, Bomberman. By this stage in videogame history, you should be ashamed if you've never heard of the name, as it a name that is most commonly associated with the phrase "frantic multiplayer action". After what can only be described as an eternity of praying and wishing, and watching new versions appear on other systems, Hudson has finally brought Bomberman to the Playstation with Bomberman World.
The situation is as follows: a group known as the Dark Force Bombers have managed to escape their incarceration with the help of an unknown force. They've actually been imprisoned for many, many years, at the hands of one of your ancestors in fact, so you'll understand that they just want a little payback when they take over several planets in your local solar system. Wielding the forces of earth, air, fire and water, the Dark Force Bombers have proven to be as much a nuisance as they were before, and it's now up to you, as Bomberman, to return order to the chaos they have brought into the galaxy.
This Playstation incarnation of Bomberman pulls no punches at all. There aren't any fancy 3D virtual graphics or polygonal puzzles or what have you - this is just a plain and traditional 2D Bomberman viewed from a three-quarter perspective. The background graphics are cute, colorful, and simple, augmented by ambient animations where appropriate. The characters are all sprite-based with nice designs, along with the standard usual animations like punching, kicking, running, and so on. Sound-wise, the music is mostly a boppy collection of PCM accompanied with humorous screams, explosions, and other bomb-related sounds. Aesthetically, Bomberman World is pretty much standard fare. It's not the most brilliant thing you've ever seen, but it gets the job done.
In the Story Mode, your simple goal is to defeat the boss on each planet and eventually finish the game by defeating the mystery boss at the very end. This is achieved by navigating through a map similar to Donkey Kong Country on the SNES and completing every sub-level on the planet. Each sub-level is where the meat of the game is to be consumed. Essentially, you are put in a maze where you can use your bombs to blow up obstructing walls, kill the bad guys, collect all the blue gems (which are meant to be used for imprisoning the bosses), and make your way to the next section. Each of these mazes eventually grow in difficulty, ranging from simple single-level mazes to giant multi-level mazes with slides, trees that become makeshift bridges, springboards, floating platforms, and so on. There is also a Puzzle Mode that tests your skill and intuition by setting a time limit or giving you a limited number of bombs.
The heart and soul of Bomberman World, however, lays in the multiplayer mode. Just the thought of 5 little lego-men running around trying to blow each other into tiny bits can make the most hardened gamer grin from ear to ear. Each match is played by up to five characters on a maze that is about the size of the screen. Every character can be selected for human or computer control. There are many mazes to choose from, each of which have a unique gameplay feature. Some would have warp tunnels or speed variables, while others might have floating platforms, spot lights, and ugly critters that pop their heads up from the ground.
There are also many types of characters to select from, such as Bomber Witch, Bomber Ninja, and Bomber Monk, all of whom have their individual abilities. Bomber Monk, for instance, has an innate power to throw other characters around without having to pick up the specific power-up that allows that action. These sorts of variables in both the mazes and the characters makes for tremendous replay value, strategy, and depth.
This is all topped off by a large array of power-ups that allow you to do all sorts of wacky things. Fans of the game will easily recognise some of the traditional power-ups like punching gloves, remote controls, and kicking boots, but there are also some new ones like jelly bombs and chopping hands. Again, these power-ups provide great variety and carry an unlimited potential for laughs amongst friends.
So let's paint a possible scenario. Bomber Fairy, Bomber Witch, and Bomber Monk are busy laying bombs around the entire area in a bid to catch each other out. Bomber Witch is busy kicking all the bombs to the left side in a bid to get clear, and manages to trap Bomberman in a corner. As Bomber Fairy and Bomber Monk run for a safe area on the right hand side of the maze, Bomber Witch forgot that that the bomb she just kicked was Bomber Monk's, whose blast radius power-up is about 8 squares. Needless to say, she's caught in the blast, which sets off every other bomb. The whole left side of the screen lights up. Bomberman buys the farm, but then Bomber Monk turns around and throws Bomber Fairy into the explosion, and emerges as the lone survivor. Game over. Did that sound elaborate? All of that happens in the space of about 5 seconds. So when people tell you that Bomberman World is about frantic multiplayer action, you'd better believe it.
There are some problems with Bomberman World, though. Firstly, while the controls are largely pretty good, the characters are somehow a little sluggish to control. On the other side of things, when things are speeded up (for instance, if you picked up the speed boots), the controls become quite loose and the action turns to the erratic side. The collision detection could also have been executed a little better. The only way to describe it is that there are times when you'd swear you had run perfectly clear of a bomb blast, but you got hit anyway. Finally, there is the issue of the floating platforms. These things actually hover over the original maze. As a result of the game being set to three-quarter view, the floating portion actually removes about one third of the original maze from your view. This is particularly frustrating when you can't even see where you are or what you are meant to blow up, and it becomes worse still when you accidentally blow yourself up in the process.
In the end, some of those design flaws can be avoided or ignored as they only affect a select number of levels. The multiplayer games, for the most part, play extremely well. It's a blast of a party game alongside other titles like Bust a Move Dance and Rhythm Action and Puzzle Bobble.
Be warned, however, that this game is actually pretty boring as a one-player game. In fact, if you don't ever intend to play this as a multiplayer game, then you'd best save your money for something else. Bomberman World is all multiplayer, and not much else. In retrospect, it is disappointing that Hudson couldn't come up with something a little more creative for the Story Mode in terms of gameplay, but in the end, it's still a straight-shooting no-funny-business version of Bomberman that follows its vintage traditions of playability and simplicity.