No classic multiplayer? You're better off finding an Atari 2600 and playing with the Mad Bomber.
Let’s get this one thing straight before this review begins: Bomberman is a staple of the gaming world. Every time a Bomberman game comes out, people expect to see a strong multiplayer offering, a fairly challenging and enjoyable single-player mode, and lots of things to blow up. Well, at least there are still a lot of things to blow up, because the first two points are virtually non-existent in this game.
First, the good (relative term). The graphic style of the game is very cute, as you’d expect with Bomberman games these days. Nice and colorful, no real hits or misses anywhere, with the total visual package being just slightly above average. The sound, while by no means bad, could have been better. The music fits the stages well, and the sounds are what you’d expect them to be, with explosions and enemies dying. The problem with the sound, though, is that there isn’t enough of it. There’s only one music track for each of the five worlds, one bomb sound, and only one sound of everything else. Gets annoying after a bit.
Then there’s the rest of the game. The single-player mode is average to begin with, but a few things make it very tedious and annoying. The story goes that Mujoe (the same Mujoe in the GC game) has stolen a shrink-ray, and goes off to use it on Bomberman and Max. Ever-so conveniently enough, they get shrunken down to the perfect fit-on-your GBA size, and hence, you need to battle through five areas that resemble your garden, a library, a laboratory, etc., to get back to the shrink ray to un-shrink yourselves.
It sounds like a fine idea on paper, but the execution is flawed. There are levels (randomly) scattered about a given world, and for each of these levels, you have a certain task to complete. Sometimes it’s as simple as destroying all enemies or all the soft blocks (the ones you blow up) in a level, or the goal could be specific to a level’s special features, like disabling all fans or blowing up certain level terrain. Other times, the goal for a level is damn near impossible to do, like destroying only one type of enemy within a time limit (and not touching the others). In time, all the goals get harder and harder to do, because the levels get larger and larger as you progress through the game, but you still only have four minutes to do the job (or only three, if you’re required to kill enemies).
After you do clear a stage, warp goals will appear that will whisk you away to the next stage. However, there are two, three, or even sometimes four warp goals to choose from, and stepping in one will take you to a different level. The way the world maps are setup, it’s virtually impossible for you to go where you want to go to, because there’s no way of telling where a warp goal will take you until you actually step into it. In the last world (the Lab Stage), there are about 25 different stages, and you might need to complete 20 of them before you can get to a boss. Compared to the fourth stage, you only might need to finish 8 levels out of the 18 there were to move on. It’s really confusing and frustrating to see where you go isn’t where you want to be.
Similar to the GC game (and the first Bomberman for GBA), Bomberman and Max have creatures called Charabombs at their disposal. These little guys help you by giving your special bombs, allowing you to do super-human feats (such as walking through blocks, or even jumping), and other things. You get them by going into levels with transporters, where you can collect them. (In the later levels, though, it might take you a while to figure out which level you need to beat so you can have a 25% chance of picking the right warp that will take you to the level with the Charabomb in it.) There won’t be a second in the game where you won’t be on one of these things, because they are very important to your success.
Even with all these oversights in the single player, you’d think that the classic Bomberman multiplayer would be more than enough to make this a worthy title, right? Well, it would, if the game had one. Yes, that’s right, there’s none of that boring classic bomb-laying four-player madness that we’ve all grown accustomed to. Instead, this game’s “Battle Game” has you use all the Charabombs you’ve collected face off against other Charabombs (via a CPU opponent or a friend with a link cable and the game) in an overly glorified game of rock-paper-scissors. All you need to do is pick a set of two commands for your Charabomb to do, sit back, and hope its attacks are better than your opponents’! Some fun, huh?
Of course, you can’t get all the Charabombs in one go through the game. There are ten available to you in each version of the game (Red for Max and Blue for Bomberman), and to get all 30, you need to collect all of them in your version, get the ten others in the other version, then merge them all together in a certain way to create the last ten. If you feel like investing time in this, it’ll keep you busy, but since its only real point is to make your rock-paper-scissors Battle Game that much easier for you, it’s pretty pointless (since you would have beaten the game and cleared the vast majority of the other levels by the time you get them all).
This game would have been great if the poor level structure, annoying level tasks, and pointless Battle Game weren’t present. Hell, if the classic Bomberman multiplayer was in it, it would be good because of that alone. But, it’s not, so this game isn’t all that good. Only the true die-hard Bombermen with a lot of time on their hands should try this one.