Bomberman Tournament (Game Boy Advance) Review

By Nick Cheesman 29.12.2003

Bomberman has and will always will be the ultimate "pick up and play" game. The sheer simplicity of Bomberman series can be seen plainly by the amount of Bomberman games out on each console format. But what of Tournament then, put simply it retains the multiplayer and Bomberman gaming of old, combined with an all-new Role Playing adventure.

You'd expect a game as bizarre as Bomberman to take the plot route of a certain Italian plumber, but surprisingly the all new Quest mode boasts its own, albeit clichéd, plot. The planet Phantarion has been enslaved by the maniacal Brain Bomber, and after Max, your partner, goes missing while investigating the surface, the Doc sends you in armed with a few bombs to free the planet. Not to original but serves its purpose for a one player RPG.

The Quest mode itself boasts several varied environments each as colourful and vibrant as the next. The cartoony visuals are both crisp and gorgeous to look at. Like in the multiplayer battles, the game is viewed from a 2D top-down vantage point. Each of the 8 locations contain there own little environmental interactions that are animated perfectly and in a true cartoon manner, such as the up rooting of trees, The character models themselves are perfect little sprites that have been designed taking in the series very anime like visuals. The only real draw back in the graphics department is the visuals of the explosions themselves can sometimes look awfully dilute and weedy, but that can be easily over looked. Furthermore although whilst Bomberman walks it appears as if he is somewhat gliding the presentation of the animations themselves are both clear and crisp. While the 8 battlefields found in Battle mode vary from the usual snow levels, to the moon's surface and even a race track each with its own novel features that can be destroyed or used as cover, such as snowmen and Christmas trees.

Screenshot for Bomberman Tournament on Game Boy Advance

For those familiar with Bomberman the soundtrack that accompanies the fast paced game play will bring you back to 1990. For those who were too young to remember that age, the tunes can be described as very retro, which suit Bomberman's historic roots. Within the Quest the music is very typical RPG, differing with environment changes, paying compliments to Poke'mon in quite a few aspects. While the battles themselves are escorted with hectic and very frantic music that add to the overall nail biting and non stop action experience.

Quite simply Tournament retains the same level of action packed four player blast fest that has graced the Bomberman games for ten years now. The sheer ease of play has always been the most attractive quality of aspect, as the controls are merely use A to place a bomb and the D-pad to make sure you get out of the blast range. While for new players the whole concept seems completely foreign at first, yet after dieing twice they will soon pick the game aims up and develop their own tactics and techniques. Even more so, they will learn which upgrades do what and which should be avoided at all costs, such as the skull that makes all your controls go to the opposite. It's also relatively simple to actually use the upgrades, as many require nothing to activate, such as the bomb kick, where running into a bomb will push it out of your way and the bomb throw that tapping A will let you pick up and then A again to throw it over boundaries. A novel extra to the battle mode is after a player has won three games, a new mini game takes place where Bomberman sits in a boat and drops his bait into the water. You must then move the bait till it grabs an upgrade. With the upgrade obtained in the next game the player will begin with that selected upgrade. Not really needed, but it present a nice break and a added new feel.

Screenshot for Bomberman Tournament on Game Boy Advance

The newest addition to Tournament is the all new Quest mode, which mixes traditional Bomberman gameplay with an all new Role Playing experience. The RPG in itself is fairly simple and compared to the likes of Final Fantasy or Golden Sun, is very dilute, yet it serves its purpose as a game option for the single player. Alternate to usual RPGs there are no random battles and you destroy any enemies using your bombs in real time. Also using your bombs to destroy the foliage will acquire you with health and other extras. In keeping with the RPG formula you can explore various towns, eight in total, and speak to the villagers, while the plot here is not very strong, instead of the villagers giving you hints to unveil the plot, they tell you of what switches do or where you should go next.

The main aspect of the Quest mode that makes it stand out from the other one player Bomberman options found in his other games, is the inclusion of the Karabons. They are Poke'mon like animals that can be used to fight with or give Bomberman new abilities, as well as giving advice to Bomberman on how to solve certain puzzles. There are 25 Karabons to find, you don't need to catch them luckily, however some can only be found by chance while others must be formed by mixing the genes of 2 Karabons. This can only be done in special rooms that are found in the dungeon levels. The Karabon battle themselves are rare and only occur when characters challenge you. In the Poke'mon style the battles are turn based, however are fairly simplistic. Each Karabon has 3 attacks it can do, attack, defend or special move, and as long as your Karabon has been built up it will win easily. Experience points are exchanged for the more simplistic route of obtaining upgrades. Whilst on the planet you can use bombs to destroy shrubs and various other plants. Sometimes a Karabon upgrade will be left: a star for special move, a shield for defense and a sword for attack. This is the only way to level up your Karabons and is rather thin. Karabons are not only used for fights, each Karabon has a ability they give to Bomberman, such as the Ape lets you throw bombs and the Elephant allows you to move heavy objects.

Screenshot for Bomberman Tournament on Game Boy Advance

Bomberman also gets upgrades in the form of better bombs that are obtained when you defeat a boss in one of the 5 dungeons. The bombs vary in power and other ways, such as one bomb can be moved through tunnels without being pushed that allows new puzzles to be solved. Armour is also obtained from the defeat of various bosses that only adds to your health. To defeat a boss and scale through a dungeon a new Karabon is always required, as the final boss will only have its weakness found from the new ability brought by the Karabon.

Sadly, although Quest mode is rather challenging, it can be toppled in a short time and for single player only battle mode is left over. But that is not a problem, that battle mode's addictive manner means you will only stop, when your fingers have gotten sore from jamming the A-button. As for multiplayer you will found yourself completely engrossed in the simple gameplay. Arguably Bomberman boasts the best multiplayer action seen for years and not to be toppled any time soon.

Screenshot for Bomberman Tournament on Game Boy Advance

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Bomberman Tournament is most definitely one of the best Bomberman games in the series due to it's gorgeous graphics and such addictive gameplay. However it will always be let down by the fact on single player the experience will never be as fulfilling with 4 other players and although the new Quest mode moved to fill the gap, it did not do it as effectively as we might of hoped.

Developer

Hudson

Publisher

Activision

Genre

Puzzle

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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