Super Bomberman 4
  • Genre:
    • Puzzle
  • Platform:
    • Super Famicom
  • Developer:
    • Produce
  • Publisher:
    • Hudson
  • Released:
    • JP 04/26/1996
Score: 80%

This review was published on 05/09/2015.

Super Bomberman 4 is a video game published by Hudson Soft and developed by Produce for the Super Famicom. Obviously, it's the fourth installment of the Super Bomberman series, a series specifically created for the Super Famicom and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was released in Japan on April 26, 1996. The first three games were released outside of Japan, but Super Bomberman 4 was not so fortunate, having remained exclusive to the land of the rising sun. That's not too big of a loss, though, because the first two games are arguably the best in the series. Anyway, Super Bomberman 4 shakes things up a bit with a couple of unique mechanics, but it's still by and large a traditional Bomberman game. As the single player continues to decline from game to game, the multiplayer continues to get more and more modes, making up for the deficiencies in the story mode. Best make sure you've got some friends on hand before playing Super Bomberman 4.

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In the previous game, Super Bomberman 3, the heroic White Bomberman and Black Bomberman valiantly fought against a mad scientist named Bagura. Soon after defeating the evil scientist aboard his battleship in outer space, the two Bombermen fled the scene just before the place exploded. It was assumed that Bagura was killed in the blast, but as was shown from Super Bomberman 3's ending, Bagura's brain escaped the explosion inside of a small machine. The villainous villain is technically still alive, but as a brain in a jar. Bagura's brain now seeks revenge against the Bombermen and summons the Four Bomber Kings and the Great Bomber to his aid. While on a space shuttle heading back home, White and Black Bomberman are attacked by the Bomber Kings and somehow get sent back in time through an intergalactic time tunnel. Now the two Bomberman pals must travel through several different time periods until they eventually come face-to-face with the brainy Bagura. Get it? It's because he's a brain.

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Take control of Bomberman in an overhead adventure of explosive fun. The short chap can waddle around in four directions on his two feet and put down bombs like nobody's business. These bombs have a short fuse, bursting after a slight delay. The bombs will explode gracefully in four directions, much like Bomberman's sleepwalking patterns, and they will destroy destroyable blocks and hurt baddies. A big problem, however, is that these graceful explosions will also damage Bomberman in a most ungraceful manner. You'd think the guy would develop an immunity to bomb blasts after all his bombastic adventures, but alas, that is not the case. Holding down the B button makes Bomberman strike a pose. When in this pose, Bomberman can't be grabbed or pushed by other Bombermen. This ability is mostly for the multiplayer modes, though. Even then, it's not terribly useful, considering you can't move while doing it. This ability is actually more of a hindrance, as there's a power-up Bomberman can get that lets him detonate his bombs by pressing B. Since pressing B stops Bomberman in his tracks, this is an easy way to get him killed. The rest of the controls are good, but this B thing seems like a silly oversight.

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Most of the power-ups from the previous games make their return here. The basic ones will strengthen Bomberman or give him new abilities, like letting him put down more bombs, adding length to his explosions, allowing him to kick and throw bombs, and tons of other cool stuff. There is a unique power-up mechanic introduced in this game, which is sort of the game's defining feature. That unique mechanic is Bomberman's capability to ride on enemies. Certain enemies will drop an organic or mechanical egg after being defeated, and these eggs hatch into friendly foes that Bomberman is able to ride on top of. Depending on what enemy he's riding, Bomberman will have different abilities, in addition to being able to survive an extra hit. Many of the abilities the friendly enemies give Bomberman are the same as the power-ups he can collect, so the main use of these things is the added survivability. Besides the one he's riding, Bomberman can hold two more eggs of the same type in reserve. This is an interesting mechanic, but it's a bit unwieldy, because the eggs kept in reserve follow Bomberman around and they can be destroyed by your own bomb blasts in a most unfair manner.

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Story mode reverts back to the very classic formula of the first Bomberman game ever made; kill all the enemies and find the exit warp. Each world takes place in a different time period, like a prehistoric era, the Edo period, modern times, and the far flung future. All stages only take up a single screen, and therefore, are simplistic to the point of being dull. Sometimes you'll find cages that, when broken, will free other Bombermen that will help you out for the duration of the stage. They're not too helpful, though. Every seventh stage is a fight with one of the main villains and the eighth stage has you doing battle against a giant robot. The boss fights are as boring as the stages, so they don't do much to help the story mode. After conquering a world, you're able to revisit any of its stages to get more monster eggs. The story mode can be played with a second player cooperatively, who will control Black Bomberman. Occasionally, there will be warps to bonus stages that are only accessibly by two players, requiring one player to grab the other and throw them onto the warp tile. That's neat and almost makes the story mode worth playing, but not quite.

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Multiplayer may make many manly men mad. There are three main multiplayer modes called Battle Royale, Champion Mode, and Maniac Mode. Battle Royale is the classic Bomberman battle mode where up to five players kill each other inside single screen arenas, either with teams or without. Champion Mode allows a max of two players to face off against the Four Bomber Kings and Great Bomber; it's kind of like a boss rush. Maniac Mode is the most interesting one, as it allows you to customize exactly what power-ups will appear during a match and how much health each player has. Sadly, Maniac Mode doesn't let you pick stages or change any other options. Playable characters include Bomberman, the Four Bomber Kings, and the Great Bomber. Each character has a unique special ability they can use by pressing the B button, though these abilities sometimes come at a cost. For example, Bazooka Bomber can shoot a huge bazooka blast in a single direction, but afterwards, his speed, number of bombs, and bomb blast range will decrease significantly for ten seconds, leaving him temporarily vulnerable. Character specific abilities are an intriguing concept, but they make the game a little unfair, especially since vanilla Bomberman's ability sucks. Everything else about the multiplayer is pretty good, though.

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Super Bomberman 4 is a mixture of delight and disgust. The story mode is awful and the element of riding on the backs of your enemies, while cute, is sloppy. Much of the game's music is reused from older Bomberman games, too; that's not to say that the music is bad, but it does come off as lazy. The single player may not hold your interest, but there are enough multiplayer modes on offer here to keep most friends occupied for a good, long while. That same statement applies to countless other Bomberman games, but it's especially true for this one.

Word Count: 1,277

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