Bomberman 64: Arcade Edition
  • Genre:
    • Puzzle
  • Platform:
    • Nintendo 64
  • Developer:
    • Hudson
  • Publisher:
    • Racjin
  • Released:
    • JP 12/20/2001
Score: 75%

This review was published on 04/10/2016.

Bomberman 64: Arcade Edition is a video game published by Hudson Soft and developed by Racjin for the Nintendo 64. It was exclusively released in Japan on December 20, 2001. This is not to be confused with Baku Bomberman, which is also known outside of Japan as Bomberman 64 and came out in 1997. Interestingly, Bomberman 64: Arcade Edition was the last officially licensed N64 game to be released in Japan. There were rumors that the game would get a North American release in 2002, but that never panned out. Also, the game isn't actually subtitled Arcade Edition. Many places online list the game with that subtitle, but as far as I can tell, the game itself makes no mention of it. I tried doing some research to see if there's any relevancy to it, but came up with nothing. Despite that, I'll continue to refer to the game by that subtitle for the rest of the review to avoid confusion. Anyway, it's no surprise this game never got released outside of Japan, because it's not particularly noteworthy.

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Unlike most N64 games, Bomberman 64: Arcade Edition is completely 2-D. As a result of that, the regular modes play a lot like the classic Bomberman games of old. That's to say, you're in a grid-like environment with an overhead view, and you move your guy around to lay bombs. Shortly thereafter, those bombs explode in cross shaped patterns that will demolish any perishables in their way, be it foes or destructible blocks. Every so often, demolished bricks will leave behind power-up icons that will augment your abilities if you grab them. These power-up icons do things like increase the range of your blasts, allow you to lay more bombs at a time, enable you to kick and throw bombs, and other miscellaneous stuff. You can also ride atop animals that act as an extra hit. As far as the basic mechanics go, it's all pretty much exactly the same as the older Bomberman games, just with prettier graphics and more advanced sound effects.

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This game has a couple of different modes, the first of which is the quintessential classic Bomberman single player. The way this mode works is that you kill all the enemies to open the exit to the next stage; rinse and repeat until you clear all the stages. It's a callback to the original Bomberman, but there is one catch: most stages have multiple exits, giving this mode a tiny degree of nonlinearity. There's a massive map of stages, and where you go depends on the exit you enter. Yellow exits will move you up one point on the world map and red ones will move you down. However, this doesn't matter much in the grand scheme of things, because the stages are all pretty similar, differing mostly in enemies and block layouts. At the end, you'll fight a different boss depending on what path you took. This mode ends prematurely, so the idea is that you replay it multiple times to explore every path. That's hardly worth the trouble, though, because the whole thing is rather unexciting.

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Up to four human beings can engage in classic Bomberman multiplayer. The same basic mechanics of classic Bomberman apply here, except you're trying to extinguish the lives of other Bombermen in a small arena. You can do either teams or free-for-all matches, pick arenas with different environmental gimmicks like seesaws, pipes, and conveyer belts, and alter some of the settings. One setting causes a demon to show up to mess with the players. Many of the multiplayer features from previous Bomberman games are here, such as the option that lets dead players continue attacking those that remain. Everything is pretty much what you'd expect out of classic Bomberman multiplayer, though this is far from the best version. However, it's more than adequate, and since the N64 already has four controller ports on it, you won't need any fancy accessories to play with four people.

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Panic Bomber is included in this package as a separate mode. If you don't know what Panic Bomber is, that's perfectly understandable, because not many people do. Basically, it's a Tetris-like falling blocks puzzle game, except with slightly different mechanics and a Bomberman coating. Differently colored Bomberman heads fall from the top of the screen and you rotate them to match three or more of the same color to clear them away. The single player version of this particular Panic Bomber is just an endless mode, where you play until you lose in an attempt to get a high score. On the other hand, the multiplayer version has every player matching blocks, and they must cause their opponents to lose by filling their screens with blocks, which is done by matching long chains. Honestly, Panic Bomber is mediocre when compared to other games of its type, so you'll likely get bored of this after a few minutes.

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For some odd reason, a Bomberman themed version of SameGame is also available. If you aren't familiar with SameGame, it's a tile matching puzzle game, the kind you see on many smart phones nowadays. Essentially, a grid of differently colored Bomberman heads will appear before you, and you must clear them all. To do that, you use the arrow to click on a head that's touching other heads of the same color, which will eliminate them. Every time you do this, the remaining heads will automatically fall down and the columns will move closer together. If you run out of possible moves before totally eradicating all of the heads, then you lose. There are three different grid sizes you can try out, with the bigger ones being harder. However, after that, there's not much else you can do. Due to that, this is another mode you'll tire of quickly.

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The biggest and most engrossing mode is Bomberman Park. This mode is similar to the Bomberman Land series of games. Here, you can wander around a peaceful park and talk to the friendly locals as if you're exploring a town in an RPG. However, the primary purpose of the park is to play a bunch of Bomberman themed mini-games. The mini-games are all relatively simple affairs, playing like something out of the Game and Watch series. The mini-games all have Bomberman doing various things, like dropping bombs on top of submerged submarines, slicing objects thrown his way with a sword, and hopping across logs drifting down a river to collect coins. None of the mini-games have much depth, but they're intuitive and sometimes actually kind of fun. Many of the mini-games do get recycled towards the end, though. In order to open up more sections of the park to gain access to more mini-games, you must get high scores in the mini-games currently available to you. It's a neat concept, though it isn't too fleshed out.

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Oddly enough, this is the closest thing to a traditional Bomberman game the N64 has, as all the other ones attempted finicky 3-D shenanigans. With that stated, this is really nothing more than a generic Bomberman game with an assortment of mini-games and puzzle games attached to it. The included puzzle games feel out of place and aren't that great, but Bomberman Park is actually pretty okay. You also have some classic Bomberman multiplayer to fall back on, provided the mini-games aren't your thing. However, if traditional Bomberman multiplayer is solely what you're after, then you'd do better choosing another game in the series.

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