Bomberman II
  • Genre:
    • Puzzle
  • Platform:
    • NES
  • Developer:
    • Hudson
  • Publisher:
    • Hudson
  • Released:
    • JP 06/28/1991
    • UK 1991
    • US February 1993
Score: 70%

This review was published on 04/23/2015.

Bomberman II is a video game published and developed by Hudson Soft for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was released in Japan on June 28, 1991, Europe in 1991, and North America in February 1993. The game was known as Dynablaster in Europe, and it was published by Mattel in Australia. This is the second and last Bomberman game released for the NES, though it's far from the final game in the highly prolific franchise. A relatively obscure title in the 1980s, Bomberman later rose to prominence in the 1990s as a force to be reckoned with. The reason for that is simple: it had awesome multiplayer. Before Smash Bros. and Mario Party, Bomberman was the king of local multiplayer. At the time, nothing was more fun than gathering around a television and playing endless rounds of Bomberman with friends and family. Bomberman II fixes most of the issues the previous game had and adds the crucial multiplayer component that would later define the series.

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An individual known for his explosive personality, White Bomberman, was out minding his own business one day when he witnessed a crime being committed. The culprit robbed a bank and he was none other than Black Bomberman. Black Bomberman chooses to frame White Bomberman by leaving behind the bag of money he stole from the bank and running away. Soon after, the cops show up and arrest the wrongly accused White Bomberman, throwing him into jail. The thing about Bombermen is that they can materialize bombs out of thin air, meaning there's no prison in the world able to hold them. It's now up to White Bomberman to escape his prison cell and clear his name by bringing Black Bomberman to justice. If only that sort of thing worked in real life. This riveting story is conveyed to you via a short cutscene before the title screen, sans dialogue. Bomberman is all about blowing stuff up, though, so the plot is totally unnecessary.

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The game's got an overhead perspective, allowing Bomberman to walk in four directions. However, due to a crippling disability, Bomberman is entirely unable to walk in diagonals. Bomberman boasts bountiful bombs. Basically, the guy's got an infinite supply of explosives. Bombs are placed directly beneath where Bomberman stands, at which point they will explode after a few moments. Explosions occur in a cross pattern that might remind people of the burning crosses of the Ku Klux Klan. Don't worry; while Bomberman may be white, he isn't a white supremacist. Caution is the word of the day here, because it's very easy for Bomberman to accidentally commit suicide by blowing himself up with his own bombs. Therefore, you must pay attention to how far the blasts travel and plan bomb placement accordingly. All of the control issues that plagued the first NES Bomberman have been fixed here, so controlling the little fellow is easy and precise. Precise controls are essential to staying alive in Bomberman and Bomberman II has that covered.

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Alone, Bomberman is quite weak. With power-ups, however, he gets considerably more powerful. Power-ups in this game look like square pictures showing what effect they grant and they're found hidden inside breakable bricks. Two of the most common power-ups are bombs that increase the amount of explosives Bomberman is able to place and flames that extend the range of his bomb blasts. There are also other neat power-ups, like one that lets Bomberman walk through walls, another that allows him to pass through bombs, skates that make him move faster, and the amazing detonator. The detonator does as its name implies and gives Bomberman the ability to detonate his bombs whenever he wants to. In the single player, there is only one power-up in each stage, but the multiplayer has multiple ones on the same screen. Uncovering the hidden power-up in a single player stage will change the music, which is a convenient feature that notifies the player that they've found all power-ups. Exploding a power-up with bombs destroys it, though, so watch out. The power-ups are the bread and butter of the Bomberman experience, as the game would be too basic without them.

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Single player mode works a lot like it did in the previous game. Bomberman is thrown into a grid-like stage filled with indestructible blocks, combustible bricks, and enemies, and in order to advance to the next stage, he must eliminate all enemies and find the exit within the time limit. The stage exit is hidden inside one of the destructible blocks, and while it can be found before blasting all enemies, it won't actually function until the mass killing is finished. Also, blasting the exit causes enemies to spill out of it, which is bad. The block layout for every stage is randomized, but the enemies and power-ups aren't. There are six areas with eight stages each and progress is kept via passwords. The key difference between the single player in this game and the previous one is that not all the stages scroll; some are exactly one screen, but some scroll horizontally. That may seem like a downgrade, but it helps vary the stage layout a bit more, resulting in a slightly less tedious experience. Additionally, the graphical theme changes after every eight stages, and there's a short scene before tackling each new major area. All that stuff only disguises the fact that you're doing the same thing over and over, though. Ultimately, the single player is still rather boring, especially since there are no bosses.

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Multiplayer is this game's true calling. Each player controls a differently colored Bomberman in a square arena and the objective is to blow away all the competitors. The last Bomberman standing wins. All the Bombermen start in their own sections on the board, tucked away behind many destructible bricks. The idea is to find and gather as many power-ups as possible before actually reaching your opponents, so that you have the upper hand. There are two separate multiplayer modes; versus mode and battle mode. The difference between them is the number of players, with versus mode being two players, and battle mode consisting of three players. Wait a minute, though... if the NES only has two controller ports, then how in the heck do you play with three people?! Well, there's an accessory called the NES Four Score that extends the console's controller ports from two to four. Only a select few games support this accessory and Bomberman II is one of them. Sadly, even with a Four Score, this game can only support up to three players. That's still better than two, though! This is the best feature of the game and it has the potential to provide countless hours of entertainment, provided you've got a couple of friends around.

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Bomberman II improves the graphics, music, and controls over the original. The single player is also ever so slightly better, though admittedly, it's still not terribly engaging. That doesn't matter, though, because this game adds the much coveted multiplayer functionality that the series later becomes known for. While the multiplayer in this game is pretty barebones when compared to future games in the series, it's still good fun if you have some good friends. Bomberman II is one of the best multiplayer games on the NES.

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