Super Bomberman 4

Super Bomberman 4

Super Bomberman 4

There are 5 Super Bomberman games on the SNES/SFC. Not many people know this as in the Western world only the first 3 were released. The problem is that Super Bomberman 4 was released in 1996 which was around the time the SNES had started to drop in popularity. The world was anticipating the next generation of systems, & the 16 bit machines were being abandoned. Not in Japan however, where SNES games were made well into the year 2000. On a side note, recently a Bomberman article featured in Retrogamer magazine where they claim that number 5 was the only one never released outside Japan, but I can’t find any evidence to suggest 4 was so we’ll put that down to being a mistake.

So let’s have a look at the game. A very nice intro starts us off with Shiro & Kuro (another little known fact is that the 2 Bombers actually have names) asleep on a rocket ship which is attacked by a group of 5 evil bombers.

Super Bomberman 4

The guys are then awoken from their sleep & they are sent into a world full of clocks for some reason with a little girl dressed in cowboy clothes. Hey, it’s Japanese, I don’t speak it, so that’s the best I can give you. The manual has a little comic at the start which explains the story, but as it too is in Japanese I can’t refer to that for plot points I’m afraid. Does the plot of a Bomberman game REALLY matter though? We all know what we’re here for. BLOWING THINGS UP!!!

As you can see by the title screen at the top of the page you have your typical 3 options of “Normal Game”, “Battle Game” & “Password” for the normal game. If you’ve ever played a Bomberman game you’ll be pretty familiar with these options. If not I’ll explain as we go along. How does Bomberman 4 differ from the others? Well I’m glad you asked…

Here’s the first stage:

Super Bomberman 4

Not a lot in it, is there? Looks like Bomberman 1, Bomberman 2 & Bomberman 3. Bomberman 5 had a massive graphics overhaul which will be covered in another review later on. But here we are, typical Bomberman play. For the uninitiated, You play as Shiro (the white bomber) or Kuro (the black bomber) & using an infinite supply of bombs (though initially you can only use 1 at a time) you must blow up boxes blocking your path to the enemies, collect any powerups that may appear from those blocks, then blow up the enemies, then an exit will appear. You go to that exit & it’s level over. It really is the simplest of concepts.

Super Bomberman 4

Each Bomberman game has little things which differentiate it from the one previous. Bomberman 3 was quite innovative in that it had the Louies (Rooies), who were kangaroo type characters that you could ride. When blown up, some of the blocks in the level would reveal an egg you could collect. It would hatch into a Louie & you could ride it. Each Louie has its own special ability. Yes, it’s Bomberman’s version of Yoshi, but we won’t dwell on that as the Louies aren’t in this game. They do come back in Bomberman 5 however.

Super Bomberman 4

Bomberman 4 expands on this feature by allowing you to defeat enemies & use their special abilities. Some enemies when blown up will become green spotted, or metallic eggs. You collect the eggs, they hatch back into that enemy you blew up & they become your pets, allowing you to ride them & use their special abilities.

Unlike Bomberman 3 you can stockpile these guys allowing you to ride one & carry 2 eggs behind you in reserve. The problem with this is when you lay a bomb you must get those eggs out the way or they WILL be destroyed, even if you’re clear of the bomb yourself. If you are in a 2 player game your ally can come & pinch one of the eggs. This can be a problem in Battle Mode which we’ll cover later.

Super Bomberman 4

Another new idea introduced in this game is the idea of imprisoned Bombers who you can free. In some levels you will see a rattling cage such as the one pictured below. It’s along the left. side of the image.

Blow up the cage & you get yourself an ally for the remainder of the level. Here he is in the top left corner of the screen.

Why is he up there for seemingly no reason? Well the problem is these Bombers aren’t too bright, just seeming to lay bombs at random. This can cause problems as they don’t seem to care where you are when they place them. You don’t HAVE to free them to pass the level, so if you want to leave them to rot in their tiny cages go right ahead. They deserve it!!

Super Bomberman 4

I haven’t touched on the powerups yet. Upon destroying blocks you may find one of the following:

Skates for speed
Wooden sandals to slow you down
Additional bombs
Additional blast power
Viruses that cause random negative affects
Remote control bombs
Protection vest
The ability to kick bombs out of your way
The ability to punch bombs
The ability to be hit once & still remain in the game
Extra lives
Spikey bombs that go through blocks
Clock that freezes enemies
The ability to go through walls
The ability to pick up other Bombermen & throw them
The ability to push other Bombermen
2 others I can’t understand from the manual. One has a picture of a question mark & another as a normal human face. I never saw this item while playing the game, so I don’t know what it is.

Super Bomberman 4

The single player mode showcases some impressive bosses. The guys at Hudson really have a good imagination when it comes to designing some of these.

Not much to say here. Hit them 8 times with a bomb blast & they’re history.

Music is fun as always with variations on Bomberman themes featured in the earlier games. In Bomberman 3 as soon as you turned the console on you would hear a voice saying “By Hudsonsoft”. This voice is back but it’s slightly slower & less high pitched. The little Bombers will speak occasionally, but as it’s in Japanese I don’t really know what they’re saying.

Super Bomberman 4

Let’s move on to Battle Mode. Bomberman 4 gives us a little more yet keeps the improvements introduced in Bomberman 3. You can either choose a generic Bomber or one of the 5 enemies.

Now these guys aren’t just new sprites that look different. Each of the Bombers has their own special ability which can be used to cause problems for the opposition. For example, one of them can swing a ball & chain over their heads knocking items off anyone they hit & scattering them across the screen for other players to pick up. Another one can shoot fire destroying anyone it hits, but he loses all his powerup abilities for a short time afterwards. Now you & all of your friends will want to play Battle mode over & over trying all 6 of them… presumably that was the idea anyway…

Super Bomberman 4

When a Bomber gets blown up you can switch on an option that will allow them to come back & exact revenge on the players still in the play field. They pilot little ships that hover on the outside of the play field & can lob bombs into it. If a player is hit on the head with one of these bombs they get stunned & lose some of their items which will scatter around the screen, so if you blow someone up watch out!!! They may come back & hunt you down.

Super Bomberman 4

Summary.

This is without a doubt my favourite Bomberman game & it’s a shame it was never released outside Japan. What makes it my favourite? I personally think it’s the most innovative of the 5 games. Lots of new ideas which expand on an old favourite. It’s got to be 5/5. Sheer Hudsonsoft brilliance.

3-D Bomberman

3-D Bomberman-gameplay screenshot

3-D Bomberman (1984)
By: Hudson Soft / Kawaguchi  Genre: Action  Players: 1  Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Featured Version: MSX  First Day Score: 000,000 (seriously!)
Also Available For: Sharp X-1

It’s been a while now since my last look at this great series but since returning to it I’ve discovered, apparently in my eagerness to progress through the series, that I missed one out! Now that I’ve realised this, however, I wish this particular offering had remained obscured from my sight until the end of time. For better or worse though, it does exist, and as you may have guessed from the title, it tries to do something a little different. In more recent years there have been a few attempts to turn our hero’s world into a three-dimensional one but I thought Bomberman 64, which itself got a rather lukewarm reception, was the first one. It now appears that this isn’t the case, for as far back as 1984, and immediately after the original game’s release, Hudson released 3-D Bomberman, and it was something of unbridled horror.

3-D Bomberman-gameplay screenshot

Usually when writing about a game I try to remain impartial and detail the various facts and figures of a game before praising or criticising it accordingly, but this game is different. It is, you see, quite literally the original Bomberman but from a first-person viewpoint. This would be a concerning prospect on a modern consoles but on an MSX? It is, quite frankly, terrifying. The first problem is that all the walls are red with nothing to differentiate ‘soft blocks’, or destroyable parts of the wall. This means there’s lots of identical-looking corridors that you’ll most likely end up walking around aimlessly. If you walk into a dead-end, it’s a good bet that it’s a soft block in your way, so you can try laying a bomb. The viewpoint also makes it difficult to judge distance accurately though, so you’ll have to run far away to be sure of avoiding the blast (which looks like a untuned TV). Once you’ve turned back round you’ll probably be unable to find where you were so you’ll have to wander aimlessly some more.

3-D Bomberman-gameplay screenshot

As you might expect, there are enemies in the mazes but you’ll rarely spot one and when you do it’s very difficult to kill one. Lest we forget, the most effective way of doing this in normal Bomberman games is to trap them in a dead-end but it’s no longer possible to watch them from afar and then move in when the timing’s right. There is a very basic scanner in the corner which shows enemies, but it doesn’t show walls so it’s not a great deal of help really! Technically the game is reasonable enough – the mazes (and they literally are mazes now) move pretty quickly and smoothly, more so than I would’ve expected, but that’s not the problem – this style of game just shouldn’t have been attempted in 3D, back then or now! It’s really, really not an entertaining game to play – it’s confusing and very easy to get lost, and there’s no variety whatsoever. There’s probably a few power-ups and maybe a few different enemies to be found if you persevered, but to be honest I couldn’t handle playing it long enough to find out. I feel like I need a shower…

RKS Score: 2/10

My Favorite Games: Part 8

My Favorite Games

Saturn Bomberman – Saturn (1997)

Sega Saturn - Bomberman

The Bomberman series is unquestionably one of my favourite series’ of all-time and it’s almost unanimous that this Saturn-exclusive version is the best. Unlike many who view the Bomberman games exclusively as multi-player games, I personally really enjoy the single player modes on most of them too. The simple pleasure of trapping enemies and blowing them up, gradually powering-up our White Bomber hero, and progressing through the stages is one that I enjoy a lot, and the stages in this release are the most inventive and feature-laden yet. However, no one can question the frenetic fun of a multi-player Bomberman session and this is another area in which SB excels – it’s possible to have up to ten players simultaneously battling away here and it’s among the most fun that can be had in any game!

Hydro Thunder – Dreamcast (1999)

Hydro Thunder - Sega Dreamcast

For some reason water-based racing games are few and far between to begin with, but good ones are unfortunately even rarer. For this reason, I thought Midway’s Hydro Thunder may be a special treat even before I first gripped the steering wheel, but a few short, heart-pounding, sweaty-palmed minutes later I knew for sure! There’s no fancy options screens or championship modes to mess around with here – simply choose from the selection of ‘space boats’ and blast away! The courses are fantastically themed and designed, and are full of features, shortcuts, huge jumps, and other racers to jostle for position with. The water physics here aren’t as convincing as something like Wave Race but that’s not really the point – this is a fast-paced arcade racer through and through, and what a rush!

Robocod – MegaDrive (1991)

Robocod - Sega MegaDrive

Released by EA before they sucked, this sequel to the entertaining underwater adventure, James Pond, bore little resemblance to its forebear aside from the inclusion of the main character himself, and even he is barely recognisable! To enable our hero to engage in non-water-based tomfoolery, he has been equipped with a robotic exoskeleton, but the Robocop puns end there as he embarks on a bizarre platform-based quest across many large, strangely-themed levels to save Christmas from Dr Maybe! As well as being a superbly designed game, Special Agent Bond’s second mission is a treat for the eyes and ears too. It may not have as many background colours as the Amiga version but it’s superior in pretty much every other way, and provides a long and entertaining challenge with a surprise around every corner.

John Madden Football – 3DO (1995)

John Maddon Football - 3DO

Given my well-known intense dislike of EA, some may be surprised to see this here, but I didn’t always hate them. In the MegaDrive days in particular, EA were awesome and one of their best games was John Madden Football. This was the first version of the series to appear on a 32-bit system and, as great as the MD games were, it made a big difference. Bigger sprites, great commentary from Madden, video clips, countless game options and stats, more plays than ever, a floating camera that follows the action closely, and the ability to play as legendary teams from the past made this the definitive US Football game to have ever been seen at that time, and it’s still my favourite to play. Some games are great fun but too arcadey, some are too intricate and take too long to learn. This was just right. Plus, it’s the only game where I’ve actually managed to win the SuperBowl!

Chuckie Egg – Dragon 32 (1983)

Chuckie Egg - Dragon 32

Few platformers were as popular as this one in their day. Every version that I’ve played is at least good, but the rather garishly-coloured Dragon 32 version is the one I’ve spent by far the most amount of time playing. My good friend Luke had a Dragon around the time I first met him and we would spend many hours trying to play through this. The game apparently cycles through the eight single-screen stages five times but I’ve had the skill to prove this. Luke was always better at Chuckie Egg than me but even he couldn’t get that far! Still, despite its hideous background (which seemed perfectly normal at the time), this is a great version of the egg-collecting classic, and the only version Luke and I have played which enabled you to perform a few little tricks which greatly helped our progress!

 

Top Ten: TurboGrafx-16 HuCard Games

TurboGrafx-16

When gamers look back at the heyday of the Genesis/NES wars, NEC’s TurboGrafx-16 is often overlooked.  That’s a darn shame – as big a shame today as it was back in the 1990s, as the TurboGrafx video game system had some quality games that are still fun to play today.  Just for kicks and giggles, here are what I consider the Top 10 huCard (in no particular order) games for this forgotten system.  One more caveat: the CD games aren’t on this list – they’re for another day!

Bonk’s Adventure / Bonk’s Revenge / Bonk 3

bonks adventure
What can you say about this classic game of caveman versus his world.  How can you not like a character that gains enormous health and power from eating giant, meaty bones or who dispatches his enemies by smacking them with his granite-like head?  I’ll always like the first game the best simply due to its original charm, but the others in the series were gold, too, so they’ve been bunched together as some of the best games ever for the T-16 system!

 

Blazing Lazers

blazing lazers
How about a game that filled the screen with non-stop arcade action – alien ships coming in wave after wave of attack runs, but dropping just the right kind of power-ups to keep your thumbs mashing the pad until defeating each level boss and getting a breather?  Yeah, that’s what I thought, too.  Blazing Lazers was AWESOME.

 

Neutopia / Neutopia II

neutopia
Wait a minute – is this game a Zelda game or not?  Well, it sure played like Zelda, even if it just “borrowed” elements of the classic NES series.  Jazeta strapped on his sword and shield and searched for the eight Medallions that would spell defeat for Dirth, the wizard with a bad attitude.  Charge up the Fire Wand and help Link Jazeta burn his way to success!

 

Military Madness

military madness
Tell me again why we’re fighting the Axis-Xenon scum for the right to control the Moon?  Who cares – this was a turn-based strategy wargame for a console system…and it didn’t suck!  The game’s victory music still pops unbidden into my thoughts (atmostly appropriate times).

 

Alien Crush / Devil’s Crush

alien crush
I never thought I’d sit in front of my television and play a pinball game for hours, but that was before Alien Crush showed me what a good pinball game looked like.  And Devil’s Crush upped the ante even more.  Great graphics, speed, table feel…these were some great pinball games.

 

Bomberman

bomberman
Who wants to play a five-player TurboGrafx-16 game and blow up all your friends?  If you had a TurboTap and enough TurboPads, this game was the ultimate multi-player game for the T-16 system.  Of course, if you had NO friends, the game had a decent single-player mode, too, which, considering many gamers in the 90s didn’t see the sun until the Millennium Bug scared them into going outside to forage for supplies, was a good thing.  By the way, if you had two TurboExpress handheld systems you could link them and play head-to-head.

 

Splatterhouse

splatterhouse
Did you ever want to put on a hockey mask, pick up a weapon, and lay a beating down on the hapless evil denizens of a haunted house?  Don’t worry about your psyche, so did everyone else.  Lots of gore (not as much as the Japanese version, though) made this a controversial game and gave it a cult following even before its release.

 

Cadash

cadash
Another super RPG for the TurboGrafx-16, Cadash gave the player the opportunity to play a fighter (heavily armoured and packing a mean damage rating), a mage (with magical firepower), a priestess (a decent fighter who can heal herself), or a ninja (a FAST little guy with the ability to reign death by shuriken from afar or use a spread fire ability to burn enemies to ash).  The game had plenty of Zelda II elements (shades of Neutopia!), and remains a T16 collector favorite to this day.

 

Dungeon Explorer

dungeon explorer
Long before there were MORPGs letting gamers explore virtual fantasy worlds together, your choices for multiplayer RPG action were slim. Until Dungeon Explorer arrived, that is, with the ability to play with up to four more of your friends (using the TurboTap).  You could even save your progress with a password save game feature!

 

The Legendary Axe

legendary axe
This game was hard.  And I know I wasn’t alone in thinking this when it came out.  It was also a visual/audio masterpiece that garnered a Video Game of the Year honor from VideoGames & Computer Entertainment.  A game that redefines an entire genre (the platform sidescroller) deserves to be on any TurboGrafx-16 Top Ten list!

 

Honorable mentionJ.J. & Jeff

jj-jeff
OK, I played Leisure Suit Larry when it came out, and loved the infantile humor, but up to J.J. & Jeff, I never saw a steaming pile of defecation in a video game before.  Although the North American version of this game was much tamer than the Japanese version (no public urination, for example), it still had some punch to shock and titillate the North American puritan audience.

 

Have a different Top Ten TurboGrafx-16 list?  Leave a comment with your favorites – and don’t forget to say why!

Bomberman

Bomberman - NES - Gameplay

Bomberman (1985)
By: Hudson Soft Genre: Action Players: 1 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo NES First Day Score: 35,800
Also Available For: ZX Spectrum, MSX, Sharp MZ-700, Fujitsu FM-7, NEC PC-6001, NEC PC-88

Bomberman

Until a few years ago, the Bomberman series began on the PC Engine for me, so I was surprised to discover that its origins actually go beyond that famous version to a multitude of older Japanese systems, many of them computers rather than the consoles the series would soon find a home on. It was released in the West, on the Speccy no less, and featured a curious main character called Eric who was an explorer looking to plunder treasure from caverns. The Japanese releases, however, featured the classic White Bomber we all know and love today, and the most widely available of these, to those gamers in the West at least, was the NES version. White Bomber himself is apparently a sentient robot who wants to be free of his job in an underground bomb factory. To do this, he must blast his way through fifty stages populated by a variety of enemies who, rather harshly, kill White Bomber with a single touch!

Bomberman - NES - Gameplay

As you’ve probably guessed, the premise behind the game is the same as the Westernised game featuring Eric, and indeed most of the subsequent games in the series – that being, to eradicate all the enemies on the stage, then look for the hidden exit to move to the next. Both of these goals are achieved by deploying bombs. Their blast range is very limited to start with, and you can only lay one at a time, which makes ensnaring the enemies pretty tough. Luckily, hidden beneath occasion soft (i.e. destroyable) blocks are power-ups which will increase the range of your bombs and let you lay more than one at a time, as well as some others like speed-ups and remote-controlled bombs. This would actually make the game easier as you progress through it were it not for the ever increasing number of enemies and also the different types that appear as you advance through the levels. There are eight different types in total and they get faster and craftier all the time. Some seem to constantly run away from you, making it difficult to kill them, while others actively chase and harass you!

Bomberman - NES - Gameplay

The first stage only features the most basic enemies which seem to be the ‘Floaters’ from the Speccy game I looked at recently, except here they’re called ‘Valcoms’ which look like balloons and don’t cause too many problems. As early as the second stage you’ll encounter the next type of enemy, a blue water-drip type creature called ‘O Neal’. The other enemy types (most of whom have equally obscure names) are apparently introduced one per level thereafter and include ‘Dahl’ which look like wobbly barrels, ‘Ovapes’ which look like Pac-Man ghosts and can move through soft blocks, the fast-moving muchers called ‘Pass’, and the pillow-like ‘Doria’ who certainly do more damage than any kind of soft furnishing I’ve encountered, and all must be destroyed before the time limit expires. If you allow that to happen you’re in trouble for you’ll then be inundated with hoardes of super-fast ‘Pontans’, which pretty much spells certain death!

Bomberman - NES - Gameplay

Eric and the Floaters was the genesis of the great and enduring Bomberman series, and it certainly introduced the basic game concept, but it was this NES release two years later which introduced many of the features that would soon become synonymous with the series for the next few decades, not least White Bomber himself. He looks a little different here, with his appearance being maginally altered over the years, but there’s no mistaking his distinctive form. Some of the enemies found here would also return in many subsequent games and even the famous Bomberman music can be heard here for the first time, albeit in a slightly more primitive form. The basic stage layouts are also instantly familiar, with each being larger than a single screen and containing dozens of blocks in random layouts. This was a pretty early NES release, and a simple game in any case, so the graphics reflect that, but everything looks tidy enough and the use of colour is good.

Bomberman - NES - Gameplay

It seems strange talking about which elements of this game are familiar when it was the first one to feature many of them, but I, like many, didn’t discover the series until later iterations, so it’s fascinating to see when and where each first appeared, and this NES release certainly gave birth to many features that we now take for granted in any Bomberman game. However, at this stage Bomberman still lacked the one gameplay element that the series is arguably best known for in later years – a multi-player mode. After the somewhat limited, not to mention tough debut starring Eric, the classic gameplay of the series takes shape here, and it’s great fun to play through. The fifty stages will certainly last you a good while, and each has a password (although it’s a twenty-digit one, and if you make a mistake inputting it with the joypad you have to start again!) so you won’t have to struggle thought the opening stages over and over, but the lack of a multi-player mode makes the game seem incomplete – for many gamers, playing Bomberman is only ever done with more than one player involved, and that would have to wait for the sequel…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKIOVwqgSXM[/youtube]

RKS Score: 7/10

Eric and the Floaters

Eric and the Floaters - Gameplay Screenshot 1

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!

Eric and the Floaters - Gameplay Screenshot 2

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!

Eric and the Floaters - Gameplay Screenshot 3

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