Review by SneakTheSnake
Reviewed: 10/20/05 | Updated: 04/21/16
There hasn't been another Bomberman quite like this one.
I will spare readers of a formal introduction to the Bomberman series, for I'm sure many who are reading this have had their trials and tribulations with the heroic bombing buddy. Suffice to say, though, he's had quite an impressive history, and this iteration has a lot to offer. However, the last few months of Dreamcast's unfortunate demise saw a great version of Hudson's little Bomberman, and needless to say, its multiplayer mode is as exciting as ever. The rest of its components, however, may be seen as unusually sub-par.
One is the Loneliest Number...
The single-player mode, while rather different from previous versions, is rather interesting. The Bomb-a-Lympics have begun, and our little white Bomberman must prepare and participate in different tournaments, each of which focus on a different type of multiplayer mode. Completing specific objectives within these battles ( stay only in one corner of the playfield, win under a certain time limit ) earns special icons, used to customize the Bomberman for multiplayer tournaments. It's different, but single player is not the reason why a Bomberman game is bought.
Bomberman Online features a very robust multiplayer mode which focuses on five game types. The most popular game type, Survival, is still here, of course. There are also other modes to explore, such as Panel Paint ( a bomb's explosion turns all surrounding blocks that color - the one with the most of their color by the end of the round wins) and Hyper Bomber ( three atom icons are placed among the blocks, and the first bomber to find all three and head to the exit portal in the center of the stage is the winner). These add to the sheer joy of the experience, and also give some much-needed variety to the types of multiplayer matches available.
Stage design also shows a great deal of variety. The amount and types of stages available depends on which multiplayer mode is selected. Most multiplayer modes require a certain type of stage. Each stage is unique in its own way, in that some stages feature anything from overhead tunnels which obscure the view of gameplay, to conveyor belts which transport players, bombs, or players into bombs.
Graphically, the game is somewhat mixed. This is the first iteration of the Bomberman series, if I'm not mistaken, to use the cel shading technique, which makes the characters look more vibrant and cartoon-like. All of the game, from the well-done cutscenes to the stages, is rendered with this graphical technique. The polygon counts are low, but this leads to a bright presentation, and it's actually rather nice on the eyes. This would eventually carry to future Bomberman games, such as Bomberman Generation for Nintendo's Gamecube.
Oh goodness. The sound. Listening to this game may become somewhat frustrating. Bomberman games have recently picked up a habit of having a high-pitched announcer. Throughout the game, the announcer yelps "Game Start", each power-up given, "Draw", and other phrases. With four players, simply hearing each power-up collected by any player can become a nuisance, but this, in combination with the voice, can become quite grating. The rest of the game's sounds are perfectly acceptable, and the music, is fast-paced and atmospheric. The tunes, which hark back to a more nostalgic time, go perfectly with the type of frenetic action on-screen.
Bomberman, except for a few duds, will always be a prominent multiplayer series. The Dreamcast, granted, has a great variety of console-exclusive multiplayer fun in the forms of Power Stone, Virtua Tennis, and (to a lesser extent) Sonic Shuffle, but Bomberman Online is still good four a round of fierce and enjoyable multiplayer action.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Bomberman Online (US, 10/30/01)
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