It’s rare to come across a video game concept that can stand up as well over the years as that which backs the Bomberman series. I’m not saying that the entire series has been a paradigm of quality—just look at Bomberman: Act Zero for the Xbox 360 and try not to cry in your cereal. The ones that do stand out, though, can be just as fun (and frustrating) for today’s audiences as they were for those who first played them ten, twenty, or even almost thirty years ago.
Now, you might have a tendency to think that I’m just some aging gamer who loves to relive the nostalgia of games from the 80’s and 90’s. If this is the case, then you obviously haven’t been paying much attention to this site. I hated most older games, and looking back, I probably hate them even more. Unlike some people, I can’t reminisce fondly about a game that I had found so frustrating as to actually cause me to throw my controller in anger. I mean, if I threw my controller, arguably I was fairly pissed. Chances are, I was also no older than 10 at the time, so I was probably liable to throw a tantrum at just the thought of having to eat green beans for dinner when my mom clearly said I could have pizza.
That being said, I’ve had some time to grow, and have become somewhat more patient and understanding over the years. Playing some of the older “classics” again without needing to go into a blind rage and potentially damage personal property, I’ve been able to better appreciate what had originally drawn audiences to them. I still probably won’t ever pull myself to finish the original Super Mario Bros. though, but at the same time, I had a blast playing through Super Mario Bros. 3 in its entirety for the first time, 15 years after its initial release.
Bomberman is one of those games that I absolutely hated to play, but have grown to love over the years. The basic premise of nearly every game in the series is fairly simple: move your little Bomberman around a 2D grid, planting bombs in order to clear various obstacles around the way and take out the various enemies running around the screen. Each bomb will detonate after a few seconds, sending out an explosion of flames across a given number of spaces horizontally and vertically, but not diagonally (pretty sneaky, sis…). Some obstacles will reveal a power-up when destroyed that you can pick up, with effects such as increasing the number of spaces spanned by an explosion or allowing you to plant additional bombs at once.
What really gets you at first is just how easy it is to die. And you will die. A lot.
Touch an enemy? Dead.
Barely touch the tail end of a bomb explosion? Still dead.
Getting trapped in a corner by a bomb!? Ha ha, DEAD!
Trapping your own dumb self in a corner…with one of your own bombs!? YOU BET YOUR SORRY ASS YOU’RE DEAD!!
That’s what got me for a while when I first played the game. It’s one thing if you simply die in a game, but when you’re locked in a corner and helpless, those three seconds you’re waiting for the final detonation, while your so-called “friend” who planted the damn thing laughs maniacally to your side, can tear away the final shred of self restraint you have left in your body before you explode in a fit of rage and swear that you two will never be friends again…EVER.
Realistically, it doesn’t take too long to get used to playing, as the game itself is fairly simple. The “normal” game mode will get a bit repetitive, but multiplayer battles with a handful of friends is where the series really shines. Having those moments where you manage to get the best of your opponents, even if it’s a short-lived victory, can make things altogether more entertaining.