Bomberman Quest
  • Genre:
    • Action Adventure
  • Platform:
    • Game Boy Color
  • Developer:
    • Hudson
  • Publishers:
    • JP Hudson
    • UK Virgin
    • US Electro Brain
  • Released:
    • JP 12/24/1998
    • UK May 1999
    • US November 1999
Score: 75%

This review was published on 05/23/2015.

Bomberman Quest is a video game developed by Hudson Soft for the Game Boy Color. It was released in Japan on December 24, 1998, Europe in May 1999, and North America in November 1999. The game was published in Japan by Hudson Soft, Virgin Interactive in Europe, and Electro Brain in North America. Bomberman is traditionally an overhead puzzle game, but Bomberman Quest departs from the formula in a most drastic manner. This game is still using an overhead view, but instead of being a linear puzzle game, it's an action adventure with various RPG elements thrown in. To further add to that classic action adventure feel, the art style seems heavily influenced by The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. Some of the environments in this game look as if they were directly copied from Link's Awakening. That's by no means a bad thing, though, since the graphics do look quite good. Bomberman Quest has nothing on classics like Link's Awakening, but it's surprisingly good.

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Traveling through outer space inside his Bomber Shuttle was our bombastic hero, Bomberman. For once in his life, Bomberman had a job to do that didn't involve blowing stuff up. His job was to transport a bunch of dangerous intergalactic monsters to Planet Bomber for permanent imprisonment. The monsters were kept inside of cages attached to his shuttle, dangling about like a daisy chain of danger. This is what we call foreshadowing, folks. Suddenly, four mysterious lights appeared and assaulted the shuttle, stealing all four of its engines. With its engines stolen, Bomberman's shuttle loses power and crash lands on a nearby planet of unknown origin. During the confusion, all of the caged monsters escaped their cells and began attacking the planet's denizens! Now Bomberman resolves to recapture all of the monsters and reclaim his shuttle's four engines from the shady offenders that took them. You could say that Bomberman is going on a quest.

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The game map is divided into four zones, each with their own distinct themes, like field, forest, beach, and desert. Everything is connected seamlessly, forming a contiguous world that totally defies the stage-to-stage structure of previous Bomberman games. Just like Link's Awakening, pressing the select button shows a grid-like map with each square representing a different screen in the game, and the squares get revealed as Bomberman explores the world. Not all of the map can be explored right out the gate, because similar to Zelda, many areas are sectioned off until Bomberman completes a specific task or is equipped with a particular item. Because of the game's open structure, some changes have been made to the traditional Bomberman mechanics to better suit exploratory game play. Case in point, Bomberman now has a life meter instead of dying in one hit, and he's now able to move diagonally instead of being restricted to four directions. This is all great if you like exploration and adventure, but the one problem is that Bomberman begins the game walking at a snail's pace. Items can be used to remedy that later, but still, this doesn't leave a good first impression.

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At the center of the map is a town that acts as the game's main rest area. This is where Bomberman's broken shuttle is stationed, where he can save his game, use various facilities like a library, and talk to townsfolk. Speaking of talking, Bomberman is no silent protagonist in this game, as he often interjects with his own statements when talking to people or reading signs. Anyway, the town also has entrances to all of the game's major areas, acting as the main hub. This is very useful because Bomberman starts with a flute item that teleports him to the shuttle at any time. By the way, the so-called flute strongly resembles the blue ocarina from various Zelda games. The buildings also look as if they were lifted directly out of Link's Awakening. The central town is a pretty neat area, though it's quite small, spanning only four screens. There are no other towns in the game, either, which is rather disappointing.

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It doesn't take long to figure out that the culprits behind the engine theft are none other than the Four Commanders; the Water Commander, Electro Commander, Hurricommander, and Pyro Commander. Each commander has a base in one of the four zones and Bomberman must defeat them if he hopes to recover his lost engines. The bases themselves play very much like Zelda dungeons, in that they're filled with traps and puzzles, but they're more linear. Puzzles typically involve bombing switches to open pathways and other similar stuff. There are other dungeons outside of the ones that the commanders preside over, too, but they're usually smaller. The commanders are bombers with special abilities, like the Water Commander throws a bunch of rubber bombs that bounce around the room, so the boss battles are similar to multiplayer matches. Defeating a commander not only rewards Bomberman with an engine, but he also gets an item and his maximum health increases by one point. The dungeons and bosses aren't nearly as good as Zelda's, but they still do a fair job of rounding out the experience.

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While your primary objective is to collect all the engine parts, your secondary goal is to capture monsters. Capturing monsters is actually an optional task, so you don't have to catch them all to finish the game, but this does affect your ending. Successfully capturing all monsters will allow you to face the game's true final boss and see the best ending; anything less than that will result in the bad ending. There are twelve monsters spread throughout each of the game's four major areas and you can see which ones you've caught via the menu. All you have to do to capture a monster is defeat it. Whenever you enter a screen that contains a monster for the first time, there will be some banter between the creature and Bomberman. This dialogue is mostly pointless, but sometimes serves as a hint on how to beat the wild beast. For example, Bomberman may comment on how his standard bombs are ineffective against certain enemies. Upon defeat, enemies will usually drop helpful items. Some of these items are necessary to beat the game, but many are optional. Even if you're not interested in the best ending, beating all the monsters still benefits you due to the goodies they drop. Despite being "caught," monsters can be refought, though they will only drop life energy the second time around, and you only need to defeat them once for them to remain captured. It's actually not hard or annoying to catch every monster in the game, because most of them are placed directly in your path. This is no Pokemon.

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Instead of the usual temporary power-ups like in his other games, Bomberman can be equipped with items in this one. Once acquired, most items are kept in Bomberman's inventory to later be equipped. The explosive lad is allowed two primary items that are set to the A and B buttons and one accessory. The primary items are things like Bomberman's signature bombs, winged boots that let him jump over holes, gloves that allow him to grab and throw bombs, and a shovel that suspiciously resembles the one from Zelda. Only one accessory can be equipped at a time and they generally provide Bomberman with passive effects, such as sneakers that make him walk faster, a helmet that protects him from falling rocks, and armor that increases his defense. Some items are consumables, but most stick around. As mentioned earlier, some items are necessary for progress, like the scuba gear that enables underwater exploration. Many are optional and simply there to help Bomberman out, though. There are an absolute ton of items, many of which are found inside random treasure chests or dropped by monsters. You're constantly getting new items, so there's always something to look forward to. The only problem is that switching between items becomes a hassle later in the game, due to there being so many and your equipment slots being so limited.

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Building bombs is every Bomberman's fantasy. In the main hub town, there's a bomb workshop where you can combine different items to construct customized explosives. There are a set of items referred to as bomb components that serve no other purpose than to be used at the bomb workshop. A bomb's firepower can also be upgraded; most bombs explode in a cross pattern and the length of these explosions can be increased by upgrading the bomb with fire components. The majority of buildable bombs aren't necessary to beat the game, but they have the potential to help you out in a pinch. Some bombs can be found during your quest, though the stuff that can be built at the workshop isn't found anywhere else. The only thing that sucks about this system is that, while there are enough components to build every bomb, there aren't enough fire components to fully upgrade all of them. If you waste too many upgrades on a lackluster bomb, then you're simply out of luck.

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Two players can link their handhelds together with a Game Link Cable to play some competitive multiplayer. One player controls White Bomberman while the other controls Black Bomberman and the two will do battle in a small arena of player one's choosing. Unlike most Bomberman games, you can't go up to four or five players, and the arenas don't have any destroyable blocks or power-ups. Instead, each player is able to equip themselves with items found in the story mode, and they both have five hit points. This is certainly an interesting concept, but it opens itself up to major balance issues, because players that have beaten the story mode will have an unfair advantage over those that haven't gotten far. Also, because there are only two players and the arenas are devoid of stuff to interact with, these multiplayer matches aren't terribly exciting. Mediocre multiplayer is better than having no multiplayer at all, but it would be nice if more effort was put into this mode, especially since addictive multiplayer was Bomberman's main claim to fame.

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This is one of the few Bomberman games with a single player that's actually better than the multiplayer. From game mechanics to graphics, this game borrows heavily from Link's Awakening. Perhaps it can be argued that it borrows too heavily, but that's hardly a bad thing. The nonlinear exploration of a vast world and multitudes of cool items make this a fun adventure. The dungeon and world design isn't on the same level of quality of a Zelda game, but it's still pretty good. If you like Zelda games, then there's a good chance you'll appreciate Bomberman Quest. Even if you don't normally like Bomberman games, consider giving this one a try.

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