Tuesday 17 November 2015

Bomberman: Panic Bomber (Virtual Boy review)

Developer: Hudson Soft
Publisher: Hudson Soft
Released: 1995

Bomberman: Panic Bomber is a puzzle game that was first released on the PC Engine CD-ROM in 1994.

There's two modes available, the first one being Normal. The objective is to match three blocks of the same type either horizontally, vertically or diagonally. Once this is achieved these blocks are replaced by unlit bombs that clog up the play area; to remove them you need to wait for a live bomb to enter and use it to create an explosion that sets off a chain reaction. The scorched bombs then appear on your opponent's side and the loser is the first person to have their blocks fill up the entire screen. The more blocks you make disappear the more your Decker Bomb Meter rises; when it's full a huge bomb enters which you can use to smash a large number of blocks in one go! The controls are responsive while the enjoyable, fast-paced gameplay reminds me of Wario's Woods (1994, NES). You also have the ability to select from five block variations that represent Bomberman characters which is a nice touch. Skull mode is exactly the same except the scorched blocks are replaced with items; these include Speed Blocks that increase the fall rate as well as an Interfering Bomber who stands in front to hinder your view. These are a welcome addition and add some variety to mix things up. Unfortunately both modes are criminally short with only four worlds and 11 enemies to defeat; as a result there's little reason to return once you've seen everything, especially considering there's no high score mode. The 3D backgrounds look good with eye-popping temples and moonlit swamps but you'll barely notice them as your focus needs to be on the play area which is lacking any real depth. This makes you question why a puzzler that's predominantly 2D was released on the system as there's really nothing here that couldn't easily be achieved on the Game Boy.

Bomberman: Panic Bomber is a fun puzzler with some addictive gameplay and precise controls. However, it's far too short and does nothing to cater to the hardware which makes the minimal 3D effects feel tacked-on and somewhat pointless.

Random trivia: The game was also released on the Super Famicom in 1995 and on the Sony PSP in 2005.

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