Bomberman Hero
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Nintendo 64
  • Developer:
    • Hudson
  • Publishers:
    • JP Hudson
    • US UK Nintendo
  • Released:
    • JP 04/30/1998
    • US 09/01/1998
    • UK 10/01/1998
Score: 65%

This review was published on 06/26/2015.

Bomberman Hero is a video game developed by Hudson Soft and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64. It was released in Japan on April 30, 1998, North America on September 1, 1998, and Europe on October 1, 1998. This is the second Bomberman game released for the N64, the first one being known simply as Bomberman 64. Being that Bomberman 64 was the first 3-D game in the series, it was significantly different from the standard Bomberman adventure. That game was met with a mixed critical reception, which it kind of deserved, because it was a clumsy mess. Perhaps as a response to this, Hudson decided to make Bomberman Hero totally different from Bomberman 64, transforming it from an action adventure into a more straightforward linear platform game. The craziest thing, though, is that Bomberman Hero completely removes the local multiplayer, a feature that has practically defined the series for most of its existence. In place of the multiplayer is a decidedly mediocre single player experience, cementing Bomberman Hero as one of the lesser good games in the series. It's definitely far worse than Bomberman 64.

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The bombastic hero and protagonist, Bomberman, spends his days training at his home, Bomber Base, which is located on Planet Bomber in the Bomber Nebula. It is from this base of operations that Bomberman helps keep the universe in one piece and in peace. On one seemingly normal day, Bomberman was ordered to inspect a spaceship that had crashed in the nearby locale of Peace Mountains. Sounds like that ship got a piece of those mountains. Upon arriving at the crash site, Bomberman encountered a funny looking robot that was quick to regurgitate info. The robot mentioned that a planet named Primus Star was attacked by some mean jerks known as the Garaden Empire. This planet had a princess named Millian who tried to flee her home inside the spaceship, but the Garaden Empire managed to capture her during the attack. After listening to the robot's story, Bomberman resolved himself to leave his home and embark on a mission to rescue Princess Millian. What a swell guy. The story has many similarities to Star Wars and is possibly based on it. There's even a Death Star lookalike! It would appear that the folks at Hudson are Star Wars fans.

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This is one of the only games to give Bomberman the ability to jump around in a fully 3-D environment, hence why it's a proper platform game now. On top of jumping, Bomberman can grab and climb ledges. He also has a life meter, meaning he doesn't die in one hit like before. The other radical change is that Bomberman's default action is to throw bombs, which automatically explode in fiery spheres upon colliding with anything. He's still able to lay bombs beneath his feet that blow up after a while and also kick them across the ground, just like in the older games. However, both of these actions are significantly less useful now that throwing bombs is so effective. Unique to this game is the rolling bomb ability, in which Bomberman holds onto a bomb, swings it around for a while, then throws out a whole bunch in a spread pattern. It's primarily used to blast large groups of enemies. Unfortunately, the controls are really sloppy and hard to get used to. The jumps are too floaty and Bomberman has a tendency to slip off platforms. There's also lots of delay to everything, giving the game a sluggish feel. Basically, controlling this game isn't fun.

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Stages in Bomberman Hero are mostly linear and revolve around Bomberman's ability to jump. The objective of each stage is merely to get to the end alive. There are times when you'll have to do something else, like collect crystal keys or destroy certain objects to open the exit door, but for the most part, stages are straightforward jaunts to the finish. Occasionally, stages will have multiple exits, and each exit leads to a different stage, a la Super Mario World. Previously finished stages can be revisited anytime. Despite the game being in full 3-D, many of the stages are designed like a 2-D game, simply going from left to right. Some stages have Bomberman moving forward in a straight line, letting you see what's coming up ahead, but not what was left behind, sort of like Crash Bandicoot. And then there are vertical stages that go straight up. Due to these viewpoints, you rarely need to adjust the camera, though in the event that you do, the camera is too inadequate to do the job. The main problem with the stages in this game is that they're uninspired. In addition to looking dull due to bland textures, they're also designed in a dull manner. The poor controls certainly don't help matters.

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In a vain attempt to add variety, the game will sometimes throw Bomberman into a vehicle stage that has him equipped with a special attachment, referred to as Power Gear. These are the Bomber Copter, a propeller Bomberman wears on his head to fly and drop bombs from overhead, Bomber Jet, a jetpack that flies forward through the air and shoots missiles, Bomber Slider, a hover board type device with a spin attack, and Bomber Marine, a miniature submarine that can move forward and backwards underwater while shooting homing missiles. The game seems quite proud of these things, because the intro is a series of scenes showing them off. Sadly, they're not as cool as the intro makes them out to be. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that these vehicle stages are the worst parts of the game. That's bad, because there are a lot of them. Most of them play like on-rails shooters similar to Star Fox, except slower, more repetitive, and more boring. The true challenge to these stages is staying awake. The Bomber Slider is the worst of the worst, as it plays like a snowboarding game with atrocious controls. A few stages also have Bomberman riding on Louie, a kangaroo-like animal that can wall jump and stomp enemies, but these aren't that different from the standard stages. The Power Gear is bad, not unlike the Power Glove.

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There are two types of bosses in this game; a battle against Nitros, which generally occurs a little after the halfway point of a planet, and then the big end boss that shows up at a planet's final stage. Nitros is a dude wearing cool blue falcon armor. The fights against Nitros take place on a checkerboard stage with a trippy EarthBound-like background and he does different attacks depending on what space he's standing on. As for the major bosses, they're much bigger and are usually fought on circular platforms. Typically, major bosses have multiple phases, and they change their attack pattern during each phase. Like much of the game, the boss fights are monotonous. Almost every fight comes down to throwing bombs repeatedly until the cows come home. If you throw too many bombs in a row, however, the string of explosions will eventually reach Bomberman and injure him. This is silly and only further exposes how awkward the game's mechanics are. Additionally, the Nitros fights are recycled many times, with only minor differences between them to make each one harder. Speaking of recycled, you have to fight harder versions of every boss again on the penultimate planet. Like the Power Gear sections, bosses in this game are yawn fests.

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Score is actually somewhat important in Bomberman Hero. Every time you defeat an enemy, pick up a gem, obtain a power-up, etc, you'll get points. These points are then tallied up at the end of the stage and you're awarded a rank based on your score. Every stage has a different score that must be reached to get the highest rank, including boss stages. Your score in a boss stage is determined by how long it took to beat the boss, with better times getting higher scores. After all stages in a planet are completed, you'll get a medal based on your performance, with gold being the best. What's the point of all this? Well, you need gold medals on all the planets to unlock the true final area. This is easily the most frustrating part of the game. You'll essentially have to completely clear out every stage of every single object and enemy to get the best score. Miss one tiny thing and you'll have to do it all over again. Things like the hover board stages will also require multiple tries, considering you can't go back to get stuff you missed without replaying those stages. Don't even get me started on the boss stages, which are an absolute nightmare to get high scores on.

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Adok Bombs are the prerequisite optional collectible for this game. Actually, they don't resemble bombs at all, but that's what the game refers to them as. They're far less annoying to acquire than the gold cards from Bomberman 64. There are six Adok Bombs hidden throughout various stages in four different planets. If you're a real math whiz, then you'll know that equates to 24 Adok Bombs. A lot of the time, Adok Bombs are hidden in extremely obvious places, making them very easy to find. Some aren't hidden at all and are placed directly in view. It seems Hudson really wanted you to find these things. Together with getting all the gold medals, you need to gather all the Adok Bombs to unlock the real final planet. If you ask me, it's a little unnecessary to force players to do both of those tasks; the gold medals should suffice. I'm not too mad about this, however, because the Adok Bombs require absolutely no effort to get. It'd be nice if the Adok Bombs were all you needed to unlock the last planet, but that's not the case.

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What was Hudson thinking? That question perfectly sums up Bomberman Hero. Bomberman games have almost always had mediocre single player offerings made up for with fantastic multiplayer, so to take that away is like spitting in the faces of fans of the series. Maybe it wouldn't be so insulting if the single player mode was actually any good, but it's not. The graphics are horrible, the environments are dull, the stage design is bad, the jumping is finicky, and the controls flat out suck. Just about the only thing this game does well is the music, which has a strange, trippy vibe to it that is reminiscent of EarthBound. Bomberman Hero isn't the worst game ever, but it's very mediocre.

Word Count: 1,776

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