Review: Bomberman Blast

Bomberman

Bomberman

I downloaded Bomberman Blast for my Wii a few weeks ago — I was on a little WiiWare shopping spree after my enjoyment of World of Goo — and it’s definitely a purchase I’m pleased with. It’s a little unexpected that the game is as fun as it is, as it’s one of the less feature-filled Bomberman’s from the ages, and it doesn’t try to do much of anything new. The N64 Bomberman’s were all more ambitious than this one. However, Bomberman Blast does a number of things which are surprisingly obvious smart-moves and is a quality overall game.

The easiest way to sell this game is on one of it’s more unusual features, and that’s 8 players. Between 4 Wii-motes and 4 Game Cube controllers, it’s very easy to lop a whole room full of people in to the game, and that’s awesome. Most games struggle to have interesting 4-player options, and Bomberman Blast comfortably accommodates 8 — a lot of people will even have 8 controllers to use for this, too, which is awesome.

Additionally, most of the game modes allow all the players to stay in until just about the end — Standard game modes have Revenge, an option that lets players who were beaten early on continue to volley attacks from the side of the arena. Killing someone from the side let’s you back in to the battle, and player’s can stay on the sides until the timer runs low. In the King mode, all players are in until the end, no matter what.

The game features a lot of the great standards of Bomberman and includes some odd powerups like the Jetpack, Shield and Bomb Transformation (That let’s you look like a bomb), but there are some peculiar omissions. No remote detonators, no protective hearts or Louies; all of which could be have been taken out in order to keep the game fair and fast.

There’s a surprisingly lack of diversity in the stages as well. While some are really great stages, like the construction yard, ‘Holes’, and the explosive gas vent area, ‘Volcanoe’, but most of the stages bleed together as the usual space. Not unfun, just… lacking, compared to many of the inventive stages present over the decades of Bomberman existence.

Probably the only real failing in Bomberman Blast is the online multiplayer. It comes with some brilliant features; each player picks the game mode and level they and and then it’s selected randomly from all of the player’s present, meaning you’re not under the whims of some random room, and you can see some different stuff now and again. You can also register multiple players from the same console, so a group of friends can sit on the couch and play online with each other against other people — also cool.

But the service itself is slow, and plagued with horrifying lag. In my repeated attempts to play online, I’ve enjoyed a dismal success level, with probably less than a quarter of games completing normally, and with a few truely disasterous connection errors (which have locked up the console for a few minutes, requiring a power-off or a great deal of patience to resolve).

Still, as a party game goes, I don’t actually have any video games that go over as well with as many people as Bomberman Blast does. It’s popular with small and large groups, and with players of very little and quite a lot of experience, all alike. Designers would do well to learn the two key lessons that make this game so universal — supporting a disgusting number of players (and honestly, it’d be possible to get another 4 people playing if you were clever with the Wii remote) and play that doesn’t alienate any players (super simple learning curve and never-out game modes are key!). In a generation of games where couch-multiplayer has been largely ignored, Bomberman Blast does a good job at picking up the slack.

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