Bomberman Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

PlayStation Portable
Release date:
Sept. 12, 2006
Hudson Soft
1 - 4


The classic franchise pops onto the PSP with a bit of the old and the new.

Review by Andrew Calvin (Email)
November 13th 2006

Of all the accolades the Bomberman series deserves, accessibility trumps them all. People who aren't even gamers will find the cute little bomber too much to resist. This is why I recommend this incarnation, but warn you to protect it from friends, spouses, and other family; it may disappear when you least expect it (especially on a handheld).

Mastering the precision and having the wherewithal to know your powerups, bomb-blast radius, and how to best trap opponents within a grid of breakable and indestructible bricks make Bomberman simple, addictive, and timeless. The PSP is a natural home for the series with its wide screen and multi-player capability.

If you've never played a Bomberman game, fear not. Like I said before, it's easy to pick up, but hard to put down. The PSP version offers battle and story modes from the start, but diligence will unlock classic mode, an endless romp through 50 levels of old-fashoined Bomberman action.

Of all the accolades the Bomberman series deserves, accessibility trumps them all. People who aren't even gamers will find the cute little bomber too much to resist.

There's more level variation than in earlier entries in the series, but this update pretty much sticks to the standard assortment of options: warping, ice, and other gimmicks. Remember Saturn Bomberman? Maybe someday we'll see a port of the finest in the series, but don't expect animals or overly interactive stages here. However, the main story introduces a new idea that works really well between stages and not so much during them. Collecting items is the same as ever—destroy bricks to reveal them—but how they are used has been tweaked.

A scrollable menu runs along the left side of the screen with all the items you've collected. Here they can be activated on a stage by stage basis, so, for instance, if a pesky boss is giving you trouble, bust out an invincibility jacket and chain bomb him to death. Feel like using wall through to run around the stage and set up a huge series of timed explosions a la remote control bombs? Go for it. One thing to note: While you can select items on the fly during stages, it is best to activate what you want before the start of the stage, as the list of items is rather long, and scrolling through them while dodging boss attacks is difficult and annoying.

Basic items, such as speed-up, fire-up, and bomb-up carry over until death, so it's the special items like power bombs, bomb throughs, and dangerous bombs (they explode in a square pattern) that need to be activated each stage. This additional item collecting piece lets completionists pick up anything and everything and lets experimenters switch it up each stage. Each world comprises 10 levels that culminate in boss fights, who carry tell-tale patterns that will lead to their downfall. The classic mode differs in that you collect items and immediately powerup, keeping them until death.

Of course no Bomberman game would be complete without a battle mode, and this one is solid mainly because the developers let friends share a single UMD across multiple PSPs. You can also play against the computer and customize effects, such as revenge bomber (when you die, you warp to the side of the screen in a little moving cannon and when you kill someone on the board, you change places with them.) Stages are what fans have come to expect: there's ice, pipe, conveyer belt, warp, speed freak and even smaller "Jr." versions of the stages, plenty to give you and your friends hours of fun.

If you've played the greats on Super NES and Saturn, this is a retread to a path that was already paved with gold. The visual presentation is top notch, with the only grievance being a minor scrolling blur when the little bomber spans stages that are bigger than one screen in width. Beyond that, the addition of a scrollable menu and a huge amount of stages (topping out at 150) provide plenty of play time. If you've got friends with PSPs, the battle mode extends that playability infinitely, though the story mode is a bit over-saturated with items and, because of the simple difficulty level, your enjoyment factor will really come down to whether there are friends nearby who share your hankering for some Bomberman.

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