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Bomberman GB – Game Boy

Bomberman GB – Game Boy

bomberman gb coverPlatform: Nintendo Game Boy

Developer: Hudson Soft

Publisher: NintendoProject Obscure

Release Date (NA): April, 1998

Genre: Action/Adventure, Maze

Nerd Rating: 7 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

OMG I’M TRAPPED! Boom! Dead! That’s just one deadly scenario likely to grace your dot matrix screen when you play Bomberman GB on your oldschool Game Boy. Hudson Soft delivers an exceptionally smooth Bomberman game that will please fans of the series and newcomers alike. With fun and simple gameplay, Bomberman GB is the perfect pick-up-and-play action/adventure/maze game for gamers of all ages.

The Bomberman series (also known as “Bomber Man”) was first introduced to gamers in 1983 on Japanese home computers before eventually making its way to the Nintendo Entertainment System. With over 80 Bomberman games spread across over 30 platforms, Bomberman is easily one of the biggest, and most successful gaming franchises over the last 3 decades, more-so in Japan than North America. Bomberman GB went largely unnoticed in the States due to its release late in the Game Boy’s life as well as being released very close to Nintendo’s launch of the Game Boy Color.

bomberman gb featured

Name Confusion

In 1994, this game was released in Japan under the name Bomberman GB, but was released in North America under the name Wario Blast: Featuring Bomberman! This is not that gameIn Wario Blast: Featuring Bomberman! the game plays like a Bomberman game despite Wario’s top-billing. I can only assume this is because Nintendo felt he would be more recognizable here in the States, but that is pure speculation. So, when the sequel was made and ready for release, it was named Bomberman GB 2 in Japan and Bomberman GB in North America, causing a ton of confusion. Maybe these 2 bullets below will help clear things up, although it won’t explain why Nintendo wanted to scramble our brains in the mid 1990’s (see Virtual Boy):

  • Bomberman GB (Japan, 1994) = Wario Blast: Featuring Bomberman! (N. America, 1994)
  • Bomberman GB 2 (Japan, 1998) = Bomberman GB (N. America, 1998)

Wacky, right? But enough with the backstory. How’s the game?

Story

Bomberman_GB_GBC_ScreenShot2If you’re familiar with any Bomberman game, you’ll love Bomberman GB right away. If you’re not familiar, you’ll probably still like it, but you won’t have the same nostalgic feeling as the Bomberman veterans. One thing that I like most about this iteration of Bomberman is that it has a pretty decent story for a portable game. Instead of opting for the simplest approach of “here’s the levels, get from start to finish,” they chose to include a nice little adventure story to add a little depth and value.

In Bomberman GB, Bomberman takes the role of an archaeologist type of character known as Indy Bomber, borrowing his name from Indiana Jones (note: in N.A., he is referred to simply as Bomberman). While searching for the legendary Ring of Wishes in the jungles, Bomberman stumbles upon some ruins. He begins to read some archaic scripture on the wall and suddenly falls into a trap hole in the ground. He must now find his way through the ruins and find the Ring of Wishes, defeating all of the monsters and ghosts along the way. It’s a nice little motif even if it doesn’t contain an insanely deep story. It does help establish the locales and premise fairly well, though.

Graphics and Animation

The first thing I noticed when I booted up my old gray Game Boy was the exceptional animation and graphics. Creating images on the Game Boy’s small dot matrix screen can be extremely challenging, but some developers know exactly how to fully utilize the power of this pocket machine. The introduction sequence has some very nicely layered art with brilliant shading and overall simple approach. One of the tricks to a good looking Game Boy game is to minimize how much stuff you put on the screen or it can start to look crammed and feel a tad overwhelming. Not only is the intro done quite nicely, but each stage is simplistic in appearance in a mostly negative way. The animations of the sprites are smooth and fairly detailed for an 8-bit portable console designed in the late 1980’s.

Stage Layouts, Gameplay, Music

The layout of the stages make a big difference in how a Bomberman game will feel, and Bomberman GB feels very much like a traditional bomberman 4Bomberman game staying faithful to the series. While the lack of colors or a bigger screen can make things feel somewhat crowded and a little “zoomed in,” you will adapt within a matter of minutes! Each level has a series of stages within, and the overall look of each level varies [somewhat], although its overall presentation seems a tad bit uninspired. There are brick walls, stone pillars, big wooden doors, and more. But no matter what level you are on, the overall theme stays pretty true to this whole “Indiana Jones” vibe. I like the feeling of being on an adventure, and the art helps bring that to life. And as good as the graphics and animation are, the music really sets the tone, just as it should.

When you play an Indiana Jones-esque adventure game, you have a certain level of expectations. While Bomberman himself might be looking for legendary treasure, we (the gamers) are actually only blowing up rocks and monsters. So it’s not quite the same feeling. So how do you convey that adventure-esque feeling with such a lack of complementary gameplay? With music of course! Bomberman GB‘s soundtrack may as well have been written by John Williams because it evokes serious emotion when I play the game. Okay, maybe it’s not quite up to the quality of a John Williams score, but it does sound a lot like something from the Indiana Jones mini-series.

Where Bomberman GB Falls Short

One of Bomberman GB‘s biggest weaknesses is the extremely repetitious gameplay. While the game is not extremely long by today’s standards, it is a pretty long game for a Game Boy game. Perhaps a bit too long. The levels are very similar (and are mostly uninspired) and it all starts to feel like you’re playing the same level again and again except with a semi-different layout. Kind of like a random stage generator or something. It’s unfair to criticize Hudson Soft too harshly, however, as I feel they did a decent job utilizing the Game Boy’s hardware despite its technical limitations, but the game starts to lean towards “tolerable” after a while when it should have feelings of great anticipation.

bomberman gb 3

Conclusion

Overall, Bomberman GB is a very strong entry into the line of portable Bomberman games. In fact, it actually fairs pretty well compared to the first couple of Bomberman games from the mid 1980’s! With an emphasis on strong graphics, exceptional music, faithful gameplay, and a password save-system, Bomberman GB is an excellent pick-up-and-play game for gamers on-the-go! A better variety in level structure would have gone a long way, but it doesn’t detract too much from the overall experience of a fun game! Oh, and did I mention that this game is part of the Super Game Boy Game Pak series? Plug it into your Super Game Boy on the SNES and you’ll get some color as well as a multiplayer mode!

Nerd Rating: 7 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Written by Nerdberry

Nerdberry

What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

Come enjoy some bacon and games with us yall.

 
 

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