Review by MagitekOmega
A Stellar Game EXPLODING With Replayability
The 16-bit era was one that was incredibly kind to Bomberman, as he had multiple entries across the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, and even the Turbografx-16. The Super Nintendo was perhaps the most definitive place for Bomberman to call his home, as a whopping five titles were made for the system, although only the first two made it into the United States, while everything up through the third entry made it to PAL territories. The fourth and fifth entries, unfortunately, would remain exclusive to Japanese audiences, outside those who import games. With Hudson making five games for the console, would the quality deteriorate in this final installment? Read the review and find out!
The story in this game is that the interdimensional overlord, Terrorin, has come to Bomberman's dimension in order to conquer his world. In order to do so, he has broken into Planet Bomber's prison and unleashed a group of its most notorious criminals, collectively known as the Fiendish Bombers, in order to aid him. With the discovery of Terrorin's attack and freeing of the prisoners, White Bomber and Black Bomber set off to take down the clock-headed fiend in order to save their world. The story isn't exactly the most original, but it is definitely effective in setting the game in motion.
Overall, the graphics, while not amazing, are definitely very clean, and definitely reflect the standard of what you would expect to see in a later Super Nintendo game. Due to the way that the game is set up, you can actually see a graphical evolution of how the Super Bomberman series has evolved, which will tie into when I discuss the game's story mode.
The soundtrack in this entry is composed of some remixed tracks from the previous four Super Bomberman games, and these renditions are very well done. Some tracks are rather catchy, and will get stuck in your head, such as the themes for Zones 2 and 3. Each zone has its own track, except for the final zone, which has five different tracks, depending on which type of level you are in. There is a battle theme shared by every boss except for the final boss, who has two different themes, depending on whether you are on the good ending's path or that of the bad ending. Vs. Mode also has two battle themes, which are zany and frantic in their feel. The sound effects are rather simple with an explosion sound, being the cleanest it has ever sounded in the series. Another nice touch is that when your bombs are at full blasting power, the explosion sound changes. Other sounds include one for picking up power-ups and getting an extra life. While not unpleasant, they also aren't very memorable.
The gameplay, as is standard for most Bomberman games, consists of a top-down view in a rectangular area, where the player must use the A button to lay bombs, which will explode in the four cardinal directions after a few seconds. The player must kill their enemies by catching them in the bomb explosions. For killing players, it normally takes only one hit, but for enemies in the story mode, it can sometimes take more. The player can also blow up destructible blocks around the arena, which may contain power-ups. The most basic power-ups are the ability to lay more bombs out at a time (represented by a bomb icon), produce bigger explosions (represented by a smiling flame), and to run faster (represented by a roller skate). Other power-ups include being able to have bombs that pierce through multiple blocks at once (represented by a spiky bomb icon), be able to survive another attack (represented by a smiling heart), or to be able to move bombs through kicking them (represented by a foot kicking a bomb), punch them away a short distance using the Y button (represented by a red boxing glove), or to throw them a medium distance immediately after laying the bomb by pressing the A button again (represented by a blue glove). The variety of power-ups in the game is large, perhaps the biggest in the entire Super Bomberman series. Players can also find eggs, which contain a rabbit/kangaroo hybrid creature called a Rooey, which allows you to take one extra hit, and also has a beneficial effect, although you cannot throw bombs while mounted on one of these. The quality and quantity of the game's power-ups definitely make for a very compelling gameplay experience.
First of the two gameplay modes is Story Mode, which follows White Bomber and Black Bomber's attempt to stop Terrorin from taking over their world. Unlike the previous entries, Super Bomberman 5 provides a less linear experience for the player. Immediately upon starting a new save file, the player will notice that there is a map screen, which indicates which stage you are at, being marked in yellow. Stages marked in red are ones that have not yet been completed, while stages that are marked in blue have already been completed. There are a total of 100 stages in the game, across five zones, but it will take multiple playthroughs to complete every stage. The objective of most stages is to destroy all the enemies in the level. After doing so, if any blocks covering them have been revealed, one or more exit portals will appear, letting the player choose which level to play next. Any level the player hasn't completed will be represented by a yellow portal, while a level already completed will be represented by a dark purple portal. This gives the player a sense of exploration and a reason to play through the game multiple times. Power-ups can be collected throughout the game's stages, and the player gets to keep all bomb capacity expansions, explosion power-ups, and speed increases unless they receive a game over. Other power-ups, however, are lost whenever the player dies. Zones 1 through 4 consist of graphics and enemies from Super Bomberman games 1 through 4 respectively, with remixed tunes to correspond with each zone. The final zone, however, consists of completely original level designs, enemies, and music. Boss fights, except for the final battle, will consist of a fight against one of the Fiendish Bombers, each of which has their own power-ups and abilities. They take a varying amount of hits to defeat. Defeating a Fiendish Bomber will lead to the next world. At the end of the game, in Zone 5, the boss will be Terrorin, who has a multi-phase boss fight, and depending on the path you took, you will get the good or bad ending of the game and the credits will roll.
Ah, yes, the most fondly remembered element for most players, the game's battle mode. Vs mode consists of several options that can be setup before the game begins. Up to five human players can participate, if a Multitap adapter is plugged into the console's second controller port, and the game can be played as a free-for-all or on teams. Any spots not taken up by human players can be filled by a CPU opponent, which can be set to easy, normal, hard, or very hard difficulty, although the last must be unlocked via the game's password system. The amount of battle wins needed to win a match can be set for anywhere from one to five. Additional options include the time limit, as well as a setting called "Revenge" where defeated players can move around the edge of the arena in a machine and lob bombs onto the field to kill opponents, and this may also be tweaked to allow a revenge kill to put a player back in the game. Players may also choose to play as Bomberman, or any of the Fiendish Bombers, except for Pirate Bomber's subordinate, although he can be accessed via a password, and can glitch the game if he emerges victorious. The character will be represented in the player's corresponding color. Power-ups are reset from match to match, however, the player that wins a set can play a bowling mini-game, allowing them to permanently have a specific power-up in the next set of matches, depending on how well they did. However, another mode is a player customization mode, which lets players make save files, in order to choose their player, color, and allocate points in order to permanently give themselves power-ups, while the arena itself will not have any power-ups to collect. Passwords may be put in as well, in order to make certain configurations. Up to 10 customized profiles can be made through this mode. As for battle arenas, there are a total of 10 stages by default, each with their own stage gimmicks, based on settings from within the game, as well as one arena with no gimmicks and the classic look is present. Additionally, three more stages can be accessed, either through playing the special edition gold cartridge of the game, or using a special controller produced by Hudson. The number of stages in Vs. Mode will allow for many hours of fun, especially given the number of customization options.
Super Bomberman 5 is a must-have game for Bomberman fans, casual and hardcore alike. The game is the most expansive on the console, and contains many options for players to enjoy. Backed up by solid sound effects and graphics, this game is truly an enjoyable Bomberman experience. If one has the means to play a Japanese imported Super Nintendo game, by all means, buy this game. You will not be let down, and whether you are playing by yourself, or with friends, this game has something to offer you for an action puzzle experience.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Super Bomberman 5 (JP, 02/28/97)
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