9 September 2007
When I think of the best multiplayer video game ever, I don't think of any of these crappy online 1st-person shooter games that are all the rage these days. I think of all of those times that my friends and I jacked into my multiplayer turbotap, fired up Bomberman '93, and crowded close to the TV. Thanks to a few tweaks and updates, Bomberman '94 is even better. The there are more power-ups on each level in the single-player game, and in multiplayer battles, even when you get knocked out there's still action to be had, namely, chucking bombs into the arena from the sidelines.
For those of you not familiar with the game. Basically, you run around a maze, laying bombs to blow up enemies and obstacles. Some obstacles contain power-ups. Initially, you can only drop one bomb at once and your explosions have a short range. After a few power-ups, you rapidly become a professional one-man demolition squad, setting off massive explosions and even kicking bombs across the screen.
Another nice additions to the classic Bomberman formula is that now our hero gets to ride animals—I think they're kangeroos. Theses kangeroos come in different colors and provide different abilities. I really like the purple one, which lets you hop over bricks—perfect for employing bomb-and-run guerilla tactics.
As if bombing your way through each stage wasn't fun enough, this game is rife with goofy and amusing enemies. Sometimes just watching the enemies trundle around makes me crack up. Where did Hudson dig up this cast of villains? Consider the fearsome boss at the end of the first world. It's a good thing I was riding a green kangeroo, which took a hit for the team, because the combination of a giant animated banana controlled by a diabolical little monkey took me completely by surprise.
The true beauty of Bomberman, though, is the multiplayer battles, where you can get up to five human players duking it out in the arena of your choice. The single-player game may be entertaining, but it cannot begin to compare to these chaotic melees. There are all sorts of zany strategies. Some people try to sit on the sidelines until the competition is whittled down. My favorite strategy is to get a disease (a skull shaped un-power-up that inflicts your character with a disadvantage), adapt, give it to an opponent by making contact, and then use my understanding of the disease to defeat him or her.
The background patterns and borders to the screen are fairly simple with the TurboGrafx-16's graphical prowess focused on the action. Wonderful and strange creatures fill the screen. Not only are the creatures well-rendered, their animation is detailed to the point that you get a sense of their personality.
The soundtracks are upbeat and remind me quite a bit of Mario brothers. It's the kind of stuff that gets stuck in your head but not because of its symphonic qualities.
From the subtle movements required to dodge bomb blasts to zooming across the screen on the back of a kangeroo, the play control is perfect. On top of a lengthy single-player game, there's also the incredible and vastly superior multiplayer battle mode.
Play this game at your peril. One player mode is dangerously fun enough, but as soon as you enter the multiplayer battle mode the fun rapidly spirals out of control, especially when five people are playing at once. This is simply one of the best multiplayer and party games ever produced and a high point for the Bomberman franchise.