Review by 16-BITTER

Reviewed: 04/07/17 | Updated: 02/06/18

Better than Bomberman, but not as good as the Van Halen song

Atomic Punk, aka Bomber Boy (ボンバーボーイ), is an arcade-style action game by Hudson Soft. Despite the curious title, it's actually the first portable installment in their long-running Bomberman series and, even more curiously, it's actually every bit as good if not better than the original NES game it's based upon. Outdated and obsolete these days, it was a great substitution at the time and those who can look past its age might still be able to enjoy it.

Atomic Punk presents three games modes, each a unique variation on the classic formula. The first game is an entirely original take on the arcade-y past Bomberman games and the first "adventure" in the series. Instead of a linear progression of levels, you travel to several distinct worlds in whichever order you like, although you must complete each world's levels in succession once you choose. The game plays the same: you must clear the stages of enemies and find a hidden exit door under the destructible rubble by using your bombs, all the while not getting hit by the enemies or (more likely) your own firepower. Each world has its own gimmick: one has ever-changing winds, one wraps around vertically, another has you dealing with weird teleporters, etc.

You can still find power-ups occasionally hidden under parts of the stage, but these are rare. The main way to acquire power-ups here is to buy them at the shop between worlds. Before each stage, you have the opportunity to equip from the power-ups you own, including ones that speed you up, increase your firepower, the number of bombs you can lay, etc. Unlike in the original game, some items can only be equipped once, so you may have to buy up a hefty stock between worlds if you like them. All in all, a good, challenging version of the game.

The second game is essentially a port of the original NES Bomberman, though with a slightly smaller horizontal play area which makes the game slightly less tedious. Play through dozens of linear levels clearing the stage of enemies and equipping a regular supply of power-ups (one hidden in every level) before finding the exit door. It's not fancy, but it's one of the better NES-to-Game Boy ports out there. The third game is a Vs. mode, which I can't comment on since I've never played it with anyone, but I have to imagine it's quite fun based on the enjoyment I've derived from future Bomberman multiplayer games.

Visually, it's at least equal to the older NES game, with lots of new unique enemies for the adventure game. The music is perfectly recreated for the second game, with a new host of catchy tracks for the first. Control is precise and tight, as one might expect, and Atomic Punk is sure to entertain for a few hours at least, keeping a steady challenge throughout.

It's not mandatory gaming, but fans of Bomberman should not do without.

Rating: 6

Product Release: Atomic Punk (US, 10/31/91)

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