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VIDEO GAME REVIEW

Explosive Multiplayer Fun

Best Version of ‘Bomberman’ Series Yet

By Cesar L. Espitia

staff writer

‘Bomberman Online’

MadeSega Dreamcast

Published by Hudson Soft

Rated E for Everyone

Up to now, Hudson Soft’s mascot has been on nearly all-gaming consoles, and has finally made his way to the Dreamcast. Bomberman is one of the oldest series of its kind, and has survived because of one simple fact: it’s plain fun. Its mechanics are simple and addictive, but as with every new installment of the series, they always add something new to keep players entertained.

Although the single player game is nothing like the Nintendo 64, which had a story mode, the Dreamcast version is mediocre at best. What shines in this game is the multiplayer mode, all you need are three other friends and you will be having fun for hours blowing each other up.

The first time you start it up, you see an amazing intro sequence, which would make you believe that it is a platform-type game. However, once you get into the menu, it will become apparent that it is just a puzzle game. The premise of the game is simple: blow each other up until one bomber is left standing, and you can do so in a variety of modes.

It sounds pretty simple but there are a few rules mixed into the game play: you cannot move a bomb once it’s been placed (unless you’ve collected a certain power-up, more on that later) and the blast area of any bomb explodes vertically and horizontally only. Of course, every opponent is doing the same thing, so what you have to do is chain bomb blasts together -- by laying a bomb within another bomb’s explosive blast, you’ll be able to extend the blast area. By correctly positioning bombs with accurate spacing and timing, you can trap enemies within your extended bomb blast.

On top of this, add in the multiple items you can use to throw bombs, kick bombs across the path, punch them over objects, as well as items that increase the length of your bomb’s blast, and you might begin to see why Bomberman has always remained a favorite multi-player game due to its panic-inducing intensity, easy play mechanics, and addicting game play. With Bomberman Online, add in excellent visuals, a wealth of extra play modes, and a single player game that you’ll actually enjoy playing, and it’s arguably the best version of Bomberman yet.

Unlike the Nintendo 64 version, Hudson Soft decided to get away from the full 3D experience, in exchange for the cel-shading technology introduced when Jet Set Radio came out last year. This gives the game a more cartoonish feel that is visually appealing to the players. Furthermore, there is a lot of style in this game, and I enjoy each of the stage themes, ranging from racetracks to construction yards. What’s really unique is how each of the stages incorporates each of the new Bomberman rule sets, making every stage a different Bomberman game.

Bomberman Online offers players the following modes: survival, hyper bomberman, submarine, panel paint, and ring mode. Survival is the traditional Bomberman play where the goal is to simply blast everyone else off the map, and will probably be the most popular play mode.

However, two of the new modes, hyper and ring mode, have their own charm. In hyper bomberman, the object of the game is simple; you must collect these orange orb icons that are found hidden inside destroyable boxes around the field. All you need is to collect three of these, and then head towards the center of the playing field to win the round.

Ring match is a truly intensive play mode where the player is given a tiny level with no power-ups. It’s brutally hectic, especially with four people on the little playing field.

Submarine mode, although not as fast-paced as the other modes, requires some strategy. Bombs take three seconds before they are sucked underneath the playing field and appear on your opponent’s side. If both of your teammates die, the other team wins. On top of these different modes, within each level (except for ring mode) you will encounter different icons that can boost your bombs explosive range or turn your character’s head into a big purple skull.

Besides the different modes, Bomberman Online sports a conglomeration of all the best Dreamcast online game features. Eight players can join in an online game! The Sega Saturn Bomberman also boasted online play, but in a far more limited capacity. Lags and disconnection problems are seldom met with four player online games. Once you start moving past four players, you may start to see a few online problems.

If there are any of you out there who still have their Dreamcasts and haven’t traded them in for any of the next-gen consoles, I suggest picking up this title. The online play is solid with four players. You can be assured that this installation of the Bomberman series won’t be seen on any of the newer consoles for quite sometime. Thankfully Hudson Soft saved its best Bomberman installment for the Dreamcast.