Big Smile. Big Ultrabrite Smile. Bomberman is about to arrive on the PC. It's been here before, sort of, in the form of Oyna Blaster, but we'll ignore that because it came out ages ago and never really cut the mustard anyway. Now we can all look forward to Atomic Bomberman from Interplay (licensed, fact fans, from Hudsonsoft, the game's Japanese creators) with all the salivating, seat-shifting expectancy of an ex-convict in a Parisian cathouse waiting room. If you're not on the Bomberman bus, you're no friend of mine.
Oh, sorry. There I was presuming that you're already familiar with the game. Many of you probably are. Sorry, but you're just going to have to bear with me while I get the slowpokes up to speed. Don't worry, it'll be worth the wait. This new, improved version of the game features several key enhancements which I'll describe in a moment. But first, for those of you who haven't got a due what I'm going on about, here's a little primer...
Classic Bomberman is an ingenious blend of pie-simple puzzling and tooth-and-nail bastardry. As far as multi-player gaming goes it almost almost wins out over Quake. Yes, really. Here's the deal: you take control of a winsome round-headed chap clad in a brightly-coloured helmet (and matching costume), running around inside a single-screen playing zone. Each arena consists of a gridlike arrangement of indestructible blocks, a random scattering of destructible ones (which may or may not conceal power-ups), and of course, your opponents. All the players are armed with bombs: jolly-looking cartoon explosives which bulge ominously for a few seconds once activated, then explode in four directions at once, destroying blocks and toasting the enemy in the process. The aim is to be the last man standing. And the first man gloating.
Sounds like simple arcade tomfoolery? Well, in many ways it is - but the beauty of Bomberman is that it never, ever gets baring. The slew of deceptively simplistic power-ups (whose effects can often turn a game around), the frenetic pace (each round lasts just two minutes - after one minute, the walls start closing in), and the ruthless dog-eat-dog gameplay all combine to produce a multi-player experience best described as 'sodding perfect'.
So, that's Bomberman, then. The good news is that Interplay are retaining all the elements that made the original game so incredibly wonderful. For purists, there's an option to play in 'classic' mode, which should be more or less identical to the benchmark SNES version. And for the nonpurists, there's a dizzying range of new power-ups, graphics, sound effects, stages (there's even a level editor, geekboy), and animated death sequences. See the section headed 'Bells and whisttes' for more information on those - or keep reading, for the really big news...
Ten men enter, one man leaves
Whereas most previous Bomberman incarnations have limited the action to four or five players, in Atomic Bomberman, up to ten of you can play at once. Yes, ten, There are no less than three ways of achieving this; either string a bunch of Microsoft SideWinder joypads together (and buy a gigantic monitor so everyone can see), play the game on a LAN (Local Area Network, where have you been?), or across the Internet. If Interplay can sort out this final option so that it works - and works well - we could be looking at the greatest online game to date. No kidding, Let's be honest: since both require the exchange of reams of information at lightning speed in order to work effectively, Internet Quote and Red Alert are far too choppy - not to mention complicated - to achieve truly massive on-line popularity, while Bombermoris pick-up-and-play simplicity and extraordinarily addictive combat deserves to spread across the globe like a nasty rumour.
Atomic Bombermart is due for release very, very soon. There's a demo on this month's CD to give you a glimpse of what all the fuss is about. Next month though, we'll be reviewing the final version.
Download Atomic Bomberman
PC compatible, P-100
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode