Atomic Punk
  • Genre:
    • Puzzle
  • Platform:
    • Arcade
  • Developer:
    • Irem
  • Publisher:
    • Hudson
  • Released:
    • 1991
Score: 70%

This review was published on 05/24/2017.

Atomic Punk is a video game developed by Irem and published by Hudson Soft for the arcade in 1991. The game is known simply as Bomberman in Japan and DynaBlaster in Europe. Even though it shares the same name as Atomic Punk on the Game Boy, this is a completely different game. While the North American name doesn't quite give it away, but the Japanese name does, this game is part of the highly prolific Bomberman franchise. Bomberman began life on 8-bit home computers and game consoles, but Atomic Punk marks the first time that the franchise got an arcade release. Hudson Soft is the company that originally created Bomberman, and normally, it's also the one that develops most of the games. However, for one reason or another, Hudson licensed Irem to handle the development of this particular Bomberman title. Despite the change of platform and developer, Atomic Punk still mostly plays like a typical Bomberman game, albeit with a few minor differences.

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In the year 2091, violent arena battles between robotic contestants garnered massive popularity. During this period, Bomberman and his pal, King Bomber, became the best robotic team in the world. However, that all changed when, one day, King Bomber turned evil and suddenly began attacking mankind. Amidst this assertive assault, Bomberman and his creatively named brother, Bomberman 2, agree to confront the treacherous threat and defend the people. These two explosive lads are the only ones capable of getting the job done, because nobody else is bombastic enough to stand up to someone with such a short fuse. When together, the Bomberman brothers have so much power that they're practically bursting at the seams. You could say that they're the bomb. They better not blow it, though, because they're mankind's last hope. Okay, that's the last bomb pun. At any rate, this game's story appears to deviate from the standard Bomberman canon, but that doesn't really matter, because this is Bomberman.

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The standard game play of Atomic Punk is pretty standard for Bomberman. In other words, you have a bird's eye view of the action as you control a small dude in a maze-like environment, dropping bombs on the ground to blow stuff up. Not long after a bomb is placed, it'll explode into a fiery cross that incinerates breakable blocks and living beings that get caught up in it. Any bombs that get touched by an explosion will be prematurely detonated, potentially setting off massive chain reactions. Of course, these explosions have the potential to incinerate you and your friends, too, so caution must be taken when placing explosives. Along with the explosions, enemies kill you in one hit, as well. Successfully avoiding foes, cornering them with bombs, and moving out of the way of your explosions; this is the essence of Bomberman. There's not much more to it than that.

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When playing the standard story mode, things work much like they did in many of the previous Bomberman titles. Basically, you kill all the enemies on the screen within the time limit to progress to the next stage; rinse and repeat until you beat the game. There are six worlds with six stages each, so you'll be doing this approximately 36 times. However, there are some minute differences to the formula. For one, power-ups are lost in between every stage. They're still found within destructible blocks, but you don't get to keep them. This is an annoying change, because it means every stage will start off slow due to having to gather power-ups. On the bright side, you don't lose most power-ups upon dying. Another change is the fact that you no longer have to locate an exit after killing all the enemies. That's actually a good thing, because it makes progression faster. With one good change and one bad one, things sort of balance out.

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On every sixth stage, you'll face off against a boss. Unlike most Bomberman games, every boss battle will start off with a bunch of power-ups on the ground, free for the taking. Naturally, you'll have to narrowly avoid the boss' attacks if you want to acquire these power-ups unscathed, but you won't have to destroy any destructible blocks to do so. Speaking of, boss arenas contain no destructible blocks, so it's basically just you and the boss, or bosses. Sadly, all the bosses are fairly bland. A lot of them are just big creatures that aimlessly move around the arena as you slowly bomb them to death. Some boss battles contain multiple bosses, though whenever this is the case, the additional bosses function much like regular enemies. Bosses are pretty much the only things to look forward to in the story mode, and even then, they're all underwhelming.

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In the Japanese version of the game, there are a variety of modes available. Besides the story mode, which is known as "Normal," there's also "Vs Game." Vs Game is the classic Bomberman multiplayer we all know and love, wherein a number of Bombermen attempt to blow each other up in square arenas within a time limit, and the last man standing wins. Unfortunately, the Japanese version only goes up to two human players, so any other Bombermen that are enabled will be controlled by computer AI. However, the North American and European versions go up to four players, but they have a caveat of their own. Namely, these versions of the game lack the Vs Game mode. That's quite an omission, considering what Bomberman is all about. In exchange for that, though, you do get the option of playing through the story mode with up to four players cooperatively. Due to these differences, there's no truly ideal version of the game.

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Aside from the neat visuals, there's nothing too remarkable about Atomic Punk. It's an absolutely average Bomberman game, featuring the absolute bear minimum of what these games are known for. When compared to future Bomberman titles, this is a pretty barebones package. Power-up variety is low, there aren't many modes available, and there's hardly any music. You'll be listening to the same bland tune for the majority of the game. The only notable thing about Atomic Punk is that it's one of the few Bomberman games to allow for simultaneous co-op for up to four players, but this is only the case for the versions of the game released outside of Japan. It's not the worst Bomberman game, but also not the best.

Word Count: 1,084

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