Bomberman Generation (GameCube) Review

By Adam Riley 14.03.2003

Hands up who remembers either Super Bomberman or one of its sequels on the SNES. Now hands up those that recall Bomberman 64…If you fall into the former group, then you will undoubtedly like this game – and if you fall into the latter, you will think a real life miracle has occurred. Why is this, some of you may be thinking? Let me briefly explain: Japanese gaming company, Hudson Soft, struck gold with the release of its Bomberman series on the Super Nintendo many moons ago, with the simple move, drop bombs, avoid bombs, kill opponents all within a two-dimensional field. Straightforward and heaps of fun. Then came the Nintendo 64 console, and the advent of Bomberman in the third dimension. Hmm, let’s just say it proved that not everything is better in 3D! But, after learning its lesson, Bomberman exploded back onto the scene in December, 2002 in this, his back-to-basics GameCube début...

Shakespeare would turn in his grave…
Do some companies hire monkeys to compose their games' storylines or something? It would seem so at times…Here comes the cliché: Some people are trying to take over the Universe, namely Mujoe and his gang of Hige Hige Bandits. They are apparently after some powerful crystals, 'Bomb Elements', that will grant them the power to conquer all. The problem is, the foolish Bandits attacked the freighter carrying said crystals, thus causing them to scatter over an uncivilised planet by the name of Tentacalls. Still awake? Just about? Good, because this is where you come in. As Bomberman, you must carry-out Professor Ein's orders and retrieve the Elements from the clutches of the many foes you will encounter on the planet! Riveting stuff there, I’m sure you will agree…zzz…zzz...

Bomberman visits Shadyville…
…Cel-Shadyville, that is (JB: That's it Raz, you’re outta here!). There have been numerous debates about exactly which game started the cel-shading revolution. But let us not dwell on that issue, and instead focus on what is important: has Hudson Soft pulled off the technique to an adequate degree, or is it a complete shambles? I'm sure you will be pleased to know that all signs seem to be pointing in the favourable direction! With a game like Bomberman, though, it would be unfair to directly compare its graphics to those of other next-generation games, simply because of the game's premise. Ever since the days of the SNES title, Bomberman has been simplistic is style and nature, with the fundamental basics laid out in two-dimensions - nothing flashy, just the rudiments. The travesties that were the N64 versions brought about the 3D feature that every developer and its pet budgie felt was needed in each game released, and this third dimension is still present in Generations. BUT, the original cartoon-y feel has been restored via the usage of crisp, clean and bright cel-shading all around. Even the menus throughout are aesthetically pleasing! Also, despite some minor criticisms regarding the lack of animation for some of the characters, the overall frame-rate is extremely pleasing – throw as many bombs around the screen as you can manage and you still won't notice a significant drop in speed, and that, as many will attest to, is one of the most important things nowadays…

Now where did I put that CD?
To be honest, I do not think the word 'bland' does enough justice to what is such an uninspired and generally weak in-game soundtrack. Not only that, but if you do decide to suffer it, you will find very quickly that it also becomes extremely repetitive – therefore there is hardly any variation or decent quality in the tunes…Not the greatest of starts then, I’m sure you will agree! So what else is there that could possibly redeem the game in this particular section? Sound effects and voice-acting in random parts, that's what…except neither of these aspects manage to redeem Generations at all. If anything, they actually make the whole experience even more painful! The standard *plinks* and *plonks*, *bips* and *bops* are all present and correct, but where is the innovation? Why not have some real power behind at least a few of the effects, for instance with the bomb explosions or when your character keels over after being hit? Come on developers, you are meant to be a talented bunch, after all...

The final nail in the coffin comes courtesy of the voice acting. Just imagine it: a line of text appears on the screen and the corny voice-over relates it back to the gamer, but then rather than continuing the sentence in one fluid motion, you are made to sit there and wait as the next line kicks in at the foot of the screen before the voice begins to ramble on again. So you’re left with this awkward silence mid-sentence, and then suddenly (as if just waking up from a short nap) the voice starts once more, with a tone that makes it sound like he/she has started a brand new sentence, when in fact it is still a continuation of the last one! Tremendously shoddy 'work'!

Out with the new, and in with the old…huh?
The removal of the multi-player mode in Bomberman 64 was an oversight that only maybe an amoeba could be forgiven for, then it returned in the N64 sequel…but was all wrong. The viewpoint was an elevated over-head view, with 3D arenas and a static camera, meaning that in certain places you couldn’t see where on Earth you were, thus reducing battles to a tedious trial and error format. The same criticism was thrown at the single-player modes – the poor camera and badly designed levels led to judging the throw-range of bombs becoming almost impossible, and the 'being hidden from view' problem leading to many a frustrating death.

But never fear, as the old style has been resurrected and revamped! Briefly, for those unaware of what the game consists of, you’re simply dropped into one corner of an arena full of destroyable blocks, along with three other combatants. Your aim is to essentially bomb your way through and eliminate the opposing Bomber(wo)men (hehe). To aid you with this, nearly every block you blow up will drop a special icon that can either increase your bombing range, speed your character up, allow you to kick bombs away from you if you’re stuck in a corner, and much more. As for the one-player mode, the idea is the same, except you are in a fully 3D world with lots of enemies surrounding you. Therefore it can be difficult, at first, managing to throw / kick your bombs in their exact direction – but thanks to the ability to completely swing your camera round to the desired position, matters become more natural after a short period of playing.

The controls as very easy to master, with the analogue-stick moving you, the main bomb button being 'A' and a tap of the 'Z' button bringing up a menu screen whereby you can select creatures called 'Charaboms', which are collected (Pokémon-style) through the game and, if fed correctly, will grant you special power upgrades during play. This is certainly a pick-up-and-play game that is accessible to practically anyone that is even remotely intrigued by this title.

Can't…stop…playing…!
As is plastered across the back of the game box there are 'Six Worlds with Massive Bosses!', 'Challenging Mini-Games!', 'Four-Player Mayhem!', 'A Brand New 3D Adventure!' and 'Classic Multi-Player Fun!' Whilst none of this is untruthful, I’m sure the need for so many exclamation marks was not exactly necessary…!!! Whoops, hehe. Anyway, the one-player adventure starts off relatively simple, leaving you thinking that it is bound to be easy to breeze through – but it is not long before the puzzles you need to overcome begin to grow evermore taxing, and you will most likely reach the hair-pulling stage of frustration from time-to-time. Then there’s the jewel in the crown, the multi-player modes. Paying homage to the series' origins, in other words 'simplicity', battling against either your friends or even just computer-controlled players will have you glued to your television for hours on end. Five battle types, with various different stages contained within mean that you will not get tired with this game in the near future. Best out of three? Better make it best out of fifteen actually…

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

As I said at the start, those that have sampled Bomberman on the SNES will find this to be more of the same and people who have only experienced the subsequent next-generation titles will think this is an amazing turn-around! So what about the rest of the population then? Let me put it this way: You will struggle to find many multi-player games for around the £20 mark (which is what you can get it at now!) that are better than this…and you get a more-than-average solo adventure tagged on as well. Sounds like a bargain, huh? I would definitely have to agree…

Developer

Hudson

Publisher

Majesco

Genre

Adventure

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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