Atomic Punk
  • Genre:
    • Puzzle
  • Platform:
    • Game Boy
  • Developer:
    • Hudson
  • Publisher:
    • Hudson
  • Released:
    • JP 08/31/1990
    • US 05/05/1991
    • UK 1991
Score: 70%

This review was published on 04/15/2016.

Atomic Punk is a video game published and developed by Hudson Soft for the Game Boy. It was originally released in Japan on August 31, 1990, North America on May 5, 1991, and Europe in 1991. The game is known as Bomber Boy in Japan and Dynablaster in Europe. This has nothing to do with the Bomberman arcade game released in 1991 in North America by Irem that's also called Atomic Punk, which is a completely different game. Despite the unusual name in North America, the Atomic Punk on the Game Boy is also a part of the highly prolific Bomberman series. In fact, this is the first actual Bomberman game released on the Game Boy. However, it does incorporate a couple of unique mechanics not found in most other games in the series. On top of that, it contains a port, or demake, of the original Bomberman game from the Nintendo Entertainment System. For a portable Bomberman game, Atomic Punk is a decent deal.

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According to the North American instruction booklet, the peaceful world of Atomica has been invaded by radiation thieves known only as the Nukies. These wicked villains seek ultimate control and have captured everyone who stood in their way! The people of Atomica are being held prisoner in the prison towers of the planet's nuclear factories, of which there's no escape. Only Bomberman and his son, Atomic Punk have the strength and speed to overcome the Nukies' cruelties. Now it's up to the explosive father and son duo to save their captive allies and free Atomica from its unfortunate fate. The bombastic heroes split up to tackle the army of mutants from two fronts. Atomic Punk travels the surface of Atomica, while Bomberman goes back to the subterranean world. It's safe to say that this story was merely something the localizers pulled out of their rear ends to explain things that don't need to be explained. Also, despite Atomic Punk having a different character design on the North American box art, he still looks like Bomberman in the actual game. Way to be consistent, guys.

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While there are a few twists to the formula, the core mechanics of the game are still faithful to classic Bomberman. Action is viewed from an overhead perspective and you're limited to walking in four directions and laying bombs on the ground in a grid-like environment. Mere moments after being placed, bombs will explode in a cross shaped pattern that will wreck havoc on anything in their way, like destructible blocks or living beings. If the fires of the explosion touch another bomb, that'll cause a premature ignition, potentially leading to chain reactions. Generally, anything will kill you in one hit, including your own explosions, so you've got to be careful when placing bombs. This adds a slight puzzle element to things, because you need to off your enemies without offing yourself. There's not much else to it, really; it's all extremely simple and easy to grasp. That's one of the main appeals of Bomberman, among other things.

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There are two single player modes available to you: Game A and Game B. Game B is a slightly altered port of the original Bomberman game on the NES. In this mode, you kill all the enemies, locate and enter the exit that's hidden inside destructible blocks, then do the same thing on the next stage. Some destructible blocks will leave behind power-up panels that you can acquire to power yourself up. There's also a bonus stage after every five stages, where you kill enemies for points. Everything is mostly the same as the original, but there are some minor differences. The two most obvious differences are that there's no color and the screen is much smaller. Additionally, the stages themselves are laid out a bit differently. Instead of being a long, rectangular maze, the stages are more square-like, resulting in overall smaller areas. There are also no annoying footstep sounds when Bomberman walks around. Other than that, this mode is just as boring as the original game.

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Game A has some major differences from Game B. Instead of doing all the stages in a linear order, you've got a world map screen where you can select the order of the stages yourself, much like in a Mega Man game. Each stage has a different amount of sections to it, called rounds, which is listed on the map. Typically, the stages with more rounds are harder, so there's still a recommended order, but you don't have to follow it. The goal in each stage is still all about killing enemies to open the exit, but there's a little more to them here than in Game B. In addition to having different visual themes, each stage has a special gimmick unique to it, like caves that warp you to different locations, or wind that gently pushes you around. The nonlinearity certainly makes things more interesting, though the stages themselves don't play too differently from a standard Bomberman game.

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In Game A, power-ups are handled in a totally different way. You get money from completing stages, and then you can use that cash to buy power-up panels at a shop on the main map screen. Power-up panels bestow different effects, like increasing your speed, allow you to place more bombs at one time, extend the range of your blasts, and more. You can also purchase elixirs, which act as extra lives, being that they revive you if you die. Prior to starting a round, you select what power-up panels you want to equip from your inventory; up to ten can be used at a time. Circle shaped power-up panels last until you die, but the square ones only last for a single round. As you beat stages, more power-up panels will be unlocked at the store, further increasing your options. This whole system is pretty neat, as it adds depth to the game in the form of simple resource management.

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In the highly unlikely event that you have a Link Cable, two Game Boys, two copies of Atomic Punk, and two people, then you can play Vs. Mode. In Vs. Mode, you fight against a friend in a simple one-on-one battle. There aren't many options to tinker with, but Vs. Mode is further divided into two other modes: Panel Mode and Powerful Mode. Panel Mode makes it so that Bomb Up and Fire Up power-up panels randomly appear from destructible blocks, allowing players to strengthen themselves whilst in the heat of battle. On the other hand, Powerful Mode has no power-up panels whatsoever, but both players start the battle fully powered up. Out of the two, I'd say Powerful Mode is more fun, because the matches go by faster and are more intense. However, this is one of the most primitive incarnations of Bomberman multiplayer there is, so it's not really worth the trouble.

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Don't be a punk and play Atomic Punk. Or don't, because it's not the best thing ever. Even with all the little cool features, such as the power-up panels and the shop, Atomic Punk is still on the dull and repetitive side. The future Game Boy games also have better multiplayer modes, though it's unlikely you'll have all the needed equipment for that to even matter. It's not a bad little package, but most of the console variants of Bomberman are still way better.

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