Eric and the Floaters (1983)
By: Hudson Soft Genre: Action Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: ZX Spectrum First Day Score: 1,240
Also Available For: Nintendo NES, MSX, Sharp MZ-700, Fujitsu FM-7, NEC PC-6001, NEC PC-88
There can’t be many people that haven’t played a Bomberman game at some time or another. The series has gone through many iterations and changes over the years, some good, some bad, but if you asked the average gamer, you’d probably get nothing but praise for the series. Known primarily as crazy multi-player extravaganzas, the Bomberman games are a curious mixture of action and strategy and are among the most widespread of any game series, appearing on pretty much every system ever made, and most of them are fantastic fun too! The series now numbers over 60 games, but where did the it originate? Many gamers would probably count the first PC Engine game to be the origin of the series. However, while this release and its sequels may have popularised the series, they weren’t the first. More astute gamers may even name the NES version as being the first, but even this wouldn’t be correct. As hard as it is to believe, the genesis of the great Bomberman series was a Speccy game called Eric and the Floaters!
I personally hadn’t even heard of it until recently and I’m a big fan of the series, but yes, this is the first ever Bomberman game! However, rather than taking control of White Bomber, or indeed a bomberman of any colour, you must take control of Eric, an explorer attempting to plunder treasures from ancient underground caverns. At least, that’s the story with regards to this version, the only one to find a release outside of Japan. Patrolling these caverns are the Floaters of the title. However, they are not the kind of floaters you may immediately think of – they appear to be balloons, although if later iterations of the game are anything to go by, they are actually balloon-like creatures of some sort. The quantity of Floaters increases as you progress through the levels, and contact with them is deadly. To progress to the next stage, you must blow them up!
The stages consist of soft blocks, which can be destroyed by bomb blasts, and solid blocks which cannot. Hidden beneath one of the soft blocks is an exit, and under another some hidden treasure for bonus points. Eric can lay a bomb in any unoccupied space but he must be sure to escape the blast or he’ll kill himself too! Even later Bomberman games are hardly the most complicated games around, and this one is the simplest one of all, as you might expect. Obviously, given the evolution of the series over so many releases, it has aged somewhat – the graphics are basic, the sound restricted to a few simple effects, and there’s very little variety between stages – but the core gameplay remains intact and this remains an interesting and addictive title. It’s always at least intriguing to discover a long-running series’ roots, and this is no different. I’m sure 99.9% of gamers would opt to play a later Bomberman game if given the choice, myself included, but it’s still fascinating to see this.
RKS Score: 5/10