Bomberman B-Daman
  • Genre:
    • Puzzle
  • Platform:
    • Super Famicom
  • Developer:
    • AI
  • Publisher:
    • Hudson
  • Released:
    • JP 12/20/1996
Score: 70%

This review was published on 05/16/2016.

Bomberman B-Daman is a video game developed by AI and published by Hudson Soft for the Super Famicom. It was originally and exclusively released in Japan on December 20, 1996. This is a spinoff of the Bomberman franchise, which is a series of games made by Hudson that normally involve running around mazes and blowing stuff up with bombs. As for B-Daman, it's a series of toys produced in Japan by Takara that consist of humanoid figurines that shoot marbles out of their torsos. Whatever you do, don't lose your marbles. That's not their slogan, but it should be. Hudson and Takara teamed up to make a bunch of Bomberman themed B-Daman toys. The joint venture also spawned a whole video game series, which Bomberman B-Daman is a part of. Anyway, there's not a whole lot to Bomberman B-Daman, but it does provide a small dose of simple fun. However, that fun is a little too simple.

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So how does this game play? Well, it's a little like Space Invaders or Galaga meets virtual bowling. You take control of a Bomberman in an overhead perspective and you're restricted to moving left and right at the bottom of the screen. Besides moving around, the only other thing you can do is shoot marbles out of your chest cavity, which is sure to cause some serious tooth decay. Meanwhile, the top of the screen will have a bunch of bombs of various sizes, which will either be stationary or moving around in specific patterns. Sometimes the bombs will swoop in and float around in different formations, much like the enemy ships from Galaga. Your goal is to blow up all the bombs using only a single marble. This is where the bowling comparison becomes apparent, because it's basically like getting a strike, except with explosives instead of pins. That's all there is to it, really.

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Just how do you eliminate multiple bombs when you only have one marble? It's simple; hitting a bomb with your marble will cause it to explode, and if the circular blast from that bomb touches another, then it'll explode, too. The idea is to use your sole marble to set off a chain reaction that ends in all the bombs being destroyed. Often times, this means hitting a big bomb that has a larger blast radius than usual, or in the case of moving bombs, create an explosion that intercepts the path the other bombs are traveling towards. It's possible to curve your shot by using the shoulder buttons to build up energy, which is handy in situations where you need to weave past an obstacle, be it bomb or otherwise. The angle and timing of your marble shots are both important. In a way, it's like you're solving puzzles, as every bomb layout requires you to figure out the proper solution.

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In the main single player mode of the game, there are ten levels with ten stages each. You can choose to do the levels in any order, but the stages within each level must still be done in a strict order. Preceding each stage is a preview that shows the bomb formation you're about to encounter. The reason for this is that, on many stages, bombs will fly off the screen if you don't blow them up in time, causing you to lose. That essentially means you have a limited amount of time to make a move, so the previews allow you to prepare yourself for the real thing. It's still annoying, though, because you only get two tries to succeed on any individual stage before being forced onto the next one. The better you do, the more points you get, with perfects giving you the maximum amount of points. If you want to truly ace the game, then you've got to get perfects on every single level, which is a daunting and incredibly frustrating task. Good luck with that.

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As you progress through the game, some stages will bring with them new gimmicks and obstacles to contend with. Those gimmicks may include triangular pieces that change the trajectory of your marble, fuses that ignite bombs that they're attached to, and more. Some are pretty creative, like using your marble to topple over a caveman so that his torch ignites nearby bombs, or hatching a baby dinosaur that breathes fire to set off explosives. The visual themes will also change after every two levels, and they feature such environments as a forest, a beach, and a space station. It sucks that you have to stick with the same visual theme for two whole levels in a row, though. There's not much to this game, so the fact that they couldn't even manage to have ten unique themes feels rather lazy. Also, while the various gimmicks are a nice change of pace, there aren't enough of them to keep the game from becoming repetitive.

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There are a few multiplayer modes available. The first one is Duel mode, which has you and a friend taking turns playing stages from the single player mode to see who can get the highest scores. This one isn't too great, because the same thing could be simulated by passing the controller back and forth between stages. The more interesting multiplayer mode is Battle mode. In Battle mode, up to four players shoot marbles at each other in a square arena to steal points from one another, and whoever has the most points before time runs out is the winner. None of the included multiplayer modes are amazing, but they can be nice little diversions if you have pals handy.

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You've got six selectable Bombermen, and with the exception of White Bomberman, you can edit all of them. Don't get too excited, though, because you're only able to change a few things: the color of their bodies and limbs, and their facial expression. The color selection is pretty limited, too. What's considerably more exciting is that you can edit and save up to three custom stages. The main thing you do when customizing stages is create your own bomb layouts, adjusting each bomb's size, location, and movement speed as desired. Unfortunately, you lack access to most of the objects from the single player mode, so your custom stages will never be as good as the real ones. Still, being able to make custom stages is cool, even if it's rather limited.

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The final verdict on Bomberman B-Daman is that it's a pretty okay game. Blasting bombs with your marbles can be fun, but it does get repetitive from time to time. The creative gimmicks are the highlight of the single player, though they don't crop up often enough. As for the multiplayer, it has the potential to be mildly entertaining for a few minutes, but lacks the staying power of a true Bomberman game. Even if you're not a fan of B-Daman, Bomberman B-Daman might still be worth checking out. Then again, you aren't missing much if you elect to skip it.

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