You kids and your Nintendo Wiis and your wifi and whatnot. Spoiled, the lot of you! Boy in my day, if it wasn’t for Mega Bomberman we’d have had nothing for more than two players at once! Well, except Mutant League Hockey, and The Lost Vikings. And General Chaos, I guess. And NBA Jam too.
Alright, so maybe the multi-player offerings weren’t so scarce as to be useful for a dramatically emphatic intro, but even with a fair few great multi-player titles Mega Bomberman persists in my mind as THE multi-player game of the console.
Like most Bomberman games, it’s like most Bomberman games. Which is to say, the core gameplay doesn’t change an awful lot. Kill the enemy. Kill them with bombs. In fact it’s even more like most Bomberman games than most Bomberman games because it’s actually based on the Japanese only Bomberman ’94 on the PC-Engine. What does set it apart from most Bomberman games (Seriously, what else do you call them? Bombermans? Bombermen?) are three-fold. One, it actually has an enjoyable and varied yet consistently ridiculous single-player mode, as illustrated below with the eponymous hero facing off against a gigantic banana seemingly being remote controlled by a monkey.
Two, it features the most ADORABLE POWER UPS EVER, in the form of the Rooi. Along with the usual array of pick-ups, Bomberpeople can find eggs which when acquired will allow them to hatch and mount a Rooi, which is a kind of massive kangaroo. There are four different colours of Rooi available, with each passing on a special ability to the player for the duration of their ride. Most of the time it’s incredibly useful, such as the ability to actually kick entire pieces of destructible arena out of their way and into other Bomberguys. The best of the lot is easily the pink Rooi, as holding B allows him to dance on the spot at will. Which is adorable. No, he doesn’t do anything else. Why would you want him to?
The third aspect of Mega Bomberman‘s design that sets it apart are the different characters you can choose to play as. We’re so used to a very typical style of how Bomberman is supposed to look, to the extent that his head is even an available SNES multi-tap, that having eight other possible characters adds even more variety to already original entry into the series. It also helps that their designs are fantastic, from the badass punk bomber, the wisened old man, the goofy bespectacled policeman, the teeny tiny baby Bomber, and my personal favourite mech-style Bomberman who appears to have donned some kind of Patlabor cosplay. They’re all great, and it’s a really fun addition for that perfect party style atmosphere the game thrives upon. Even more so if people are bickering about who gets to be what.
And then-..well, okay actually that’s about it. There isn’t a huge amount that distinguishes it from the other titles, except that this is actually the only entry available in the entire Mega Drive/Genesis library. When you consider that there are five Bomberman titles on the SNES, that’s pretty important, especially as Mega Bomberman pioneered a lot of elements that would eventually find their way into the SNES titles like the selectable characters and Rooi (or Louie. Another product of the 90’s was game manuals that never had any damned consistency) which wouldn’t show up until Super Bomberman 3.
Reviewing a Bomberman game is a weird undertaking, because there’s often very little to say that people haven’t heard before, or even know themselves. You know how it looks, you know how it feels to play it. You know the joys of trapping your foes, and you almost certainly trapped yourself on the wrong side of your bomb once and killed yourself all kinds of dead. It’s fine. It happens.
So why really even bring it up after all these years? It’s not the most incredible Bomberman game out there, but as it is the only one released on the Mega Drive it’s worthy of recognition in any case, being one of the ‘not-quite-as-few-as-I’d-remembered’ 4-player games on the system as well as being as great an entry as it is. Especially when this would be the only chance Sega fans would have that generation to actually own a Bomberman game. It could’ve been any of the already released games that they had ported or remade, but instead Sega gamers were given an exclusive title of their own in the west, one that would take the SNES an entire year just to catch up to the new features introduced.
It isn’t the best Bomberman game you could buy, but unlike most Bomberman games, it’s our Bomberman game. And to a generation of Sega fans that meant a damn lot.
For helping me blow things out of proportion; B+