Bomberman (TG16)
  • Genre:
    • Puzzle
  • Developer:
    • Hudson
  • Publishers:
    • JP Hudson (TG16)
    • US Turbo Technologies (TG16)
    • JP SystemSoft (X68)
    • UK Ubisoft (AMI/DOS/ST)
  • Released:
    TG16
    • JP 12/07/1990
    • US 1991
    X68
    • JP 04/19/1991
    AMI
    • UK 1991
    DOS/ST
    • UK 1992
Score: 75%

This review was published on 04/18/2016.

Bomberman is a video game developed by Hudson Soft for the TurboGrafx-16. This is the first Bomberman game released for the TurboGrafx-16, later followed by Bomberman '93 and Bomberman '94. It was originally published in Japan by Hudson Soft on December 7, 1990, and North America by Turbo Technologies in 1991. An X68000 version of the game was published in Japan by SystemSoft on April 19, 1991. In Europe, the game was called Dyna Blaster and published by Ubisoft for the Amiga in 1991 and the Atari ST and MS-DOS in 1992. There was also a Commodore 64 version advertised, but it never came out. The game is loosely based on the original Bomberman for the Nintendo Entertainment System, being a reimagining of sorts. Countless elements were first introduced in this game, making it a basis for many of the future entries. Though easily bested by newer games in the series, this is still a good game due to its marvelous multiplayer.

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A man known as Dr. Mitsumori created a robot he called Black Bomberman. Its design was based on White Bomberman, which is the original model, and it had the ability to think and reason for itself. However, there was a problem with Black Bomberman's programming that caused him to develop mischievous tendencies. Due to that coding error, Black Bomberman eventually goes berserk and kidnaps Dr. Mitsumori's daughter, Lisa, whisking her away on a majestic dragon. Black Bomberman takes Lisa to the top of a mechanical castle, where he commands an army of monsters to do his bidding. Seeing this terrible injustice, White Bomberman wastes no time at all and embarks on an adventure to save Lisa from the nefarious ninny. The English manual mentions a few things not referenced in the original Japanese story, like that White Bomberman is the first robot created by Dr. Mitsumori and that he was strictly made for justice. Additionally, it states that the game takes place hundreds of years from the present. Canon or no, this origin story is awfully similar to the one in Mega Man.

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In Bomberman, you control Bomberman as he walks around in grid-like mazes with an overhead view. He can walk in the four cardinal directions, lay bombs down on the ground, and look cool while doing it. Shortly after being placed, bombs will burst into flames that stretch out in a cross shaped pattern. Vulnerable enemies and destructible blocks that get in the way of the explosions will be burnt to a crisp, and even Bomberman himself isn't usually immune to this fate. Occasionally, demolished blocks will leave behind a power-up panel that Bomberman can collect to power himself up. Power-ups can increase the range of Bomberman's bomb blasts, increase the amount of bombs he can put out at once, increase his speed, enable him to pass through destructible blocks as if he were a ghost, and there's even a detonator that lets him detonate bombs at will. The mechanics are simple enough for beginners to feel comfortable, but have enough depth to satiate more skilled players.

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The standard single player mode is divided into eight worlds that have eight stages apiece. Every world has its own visual theme, though they all play similarly. The stages have Bomberman walking around maze-like areas that are either small enough to only take up a single screen or big enough to necessitate some screen scrolling. Bomberman will have to bomb baddies and uncover the exit panel, which is hidden inside of a destructible block somewhere. Even after the exit panel has been located, Bomberman won't actually be able to enter it until all enemies within the vicinity have been promptly dealt with. After doing that and using the exit panel, Bomberman will be warped to the next stage, where he'll have to repeat the process. Each stage has exactly one power-up hidden in it, as well. If you kill all the enemies prior to locating the power-up, its location will be conveniently revealed to you by having the block containing it flash. The single player is adequate, but it gets repetitive, with the only thing to look forward to being a change in scenery between worlds.

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This is the first Bomberman game to introduce boss battles. On the eighth stage of every world is a boss that will attempt to boss you around. You're not the boss of me! Man, these guys are so bossy. Anyway, bosses are a bit stronger and more unique than regular enemies. For example, the first boss is a worm-like lizard thing made up of individual parts that you bomb and another boss is a ghost that'll appear and reappear in different locations. Bosses will change color when you hit them, which indicates how much health they have left. Regular enemies often accompany the boss, sometimes being created by the boss itself. If any enemies are left behind after the boss has been defeated, you usually still have to do cleanup duty and get rid of them to win. Besides being mostly dull, some of the bosses get recycled later on, with the only difference being that they're accompanied by one or two twins. The bosses certainly liven up the single player mode, but not by much.

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Normally, the TurboGrafx-16 only has a measly single controller port, but with a Turbo Tap accessory, you can play this game with up to five players. Two players can also play by linking two TurboExpress handheld units together, which are essentially portable versions of the TurboGrafx-16, but it's best to stick to the big screen. The rules for multiplayer are simple: players must kill each other inside a small arena using bombs and the last one standing is declared the victor. If you play with less than five players, there'll also be some enemies in the arena. In addition to the normal multiplayer mode, there's also Skull Mode. In Skull Mode, skull panels will sometimes appear after blocks have been destroyed, similar to a power-up. Unlike power-ups, however, these will give the recipient random effects that are often negative. This coupled with five players makes the multiplayer a lot better than in previous Bomberman games. While certainly enjoyable with a group of pals, the multiplayer is pretty basic when compared to future Bomberman games, because there's only one stage available and the power-up variety is low.

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While not the best Bomberman game on the system, this is still a solid start for the series on the TurboGrafx-16. It's got all the things that make the future Bomberman games great, only in far more modest forms. For its time, the multiplayer experience this game provided was completely unparalleled, although the sequels did it better. Multiplayer is obviously the main reason to play this game, but unless you prefer simplicity, you're better off checking out the later games in the series, which have more options and stages.

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