Super Bomberman 2

Super NES

Review by Joe Santulli

Hudson Soft


Graphics: 8

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 10

Overall: 9

One of the many philosophies I live by is the self-imposed belief that your life is only as happy as your ability not to fuck yourself over. Everyone gets stuck with situations that they have no control over. Death. Unemployment. Psychos. And unless you're very lucky - good or bad - you're probably going to be dealt about the same amount as everyone else. So if you take away these "common denominators", you're left with the situations that you DO have control over. Survive them, and you're into the bonus rounds of life. But move the wrong way, and you're Bomberman. Surrounded by walls with high explosives at your feet.

On a more tangible level (sorry, kids!), I also believe that your ability as a video gamer is directly proportional to your ability to survive in Bomberman. I'm not talking about the first time you play, or even the tenth time. Video gaming isn't an instinct. After an hour or so, you'll know. I've seen veteran players pick up the game and deal with its chaos as if it were everyday business, and I've seen non-gamers do the same. Figure out the controls, learn the power-ups, and what you have left is one of the purest forms of gaming and crisis management you'll ever get your hands on.

Oh, about the game. There really aren't many games that I can say have changed my feelings about "what a good game should be". And even fewer of those are sequels. The original Bomberman appeared on the NES in 1989 and vastly improved on the Turbografx-16 system in 1992 and STILL I thought it was a terrible looking game. I recall seeing large groups gather around at the Summer Consumer Electronics Show, playing on a giant screen and wondering what the fuss was about. The characters are squat little robot-people with barely any animation. The playfield is exactly the length and width of the screen, so what you see is what you get. It seemed as if a renegade Atari 2600 programmer had joined the ranks of Hudson Soft and whipped up this "throwback" to put some food on his table. It is times like this that I realize that I can be a real horse's ass. You would think after playing these things as long as I have been that I wouldn't automatically associate high-tech with high quality. A lesson learned.

It's 1994, and the Turbografx-16 is all but a memory for most gamers, who have moved on to the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo systems. Fortunately, the legacy of one of the best TG-16 memories lives on. Hudson Soft releases Super Bomberman 2. They had figured out many of the faults of the original by this time, having released Bomberman '93 for the Turbografx-16, Bomberman and Bomberman II for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and the original Super Bomberman for the Super NES. All of the learning from these releases shows in Super Bomberman 2. Let me give you some idea of what it's all about.

SB2 incorporates all of the features of the past games. The best mode always was, and still is, the multi-player Battle Mode. Inside of one screen, four players have to figure out a way to survive explosions at every turn. There are ten different stages to choose from for the battlefield, some of which include revolving doors, conveyor belts, warp tunnels, and other surprises that can really change the outcome of a game. I prefer the simplicity of the solid brick walls, but the options keep even the "one human vs. Three computer players" game fresh at all times. If you don't have three friends to play with, the computer's skill level can be selected. Even so, the jittery computer players are rarely as cunning and never as unpredictable as even the newest of Bomberman players. You also have the option of playing two-on-two, which introduces cooperative play to the game. Bah! I say. Don't forget those wonderful toys. The power-ups allow you to drop more bombs, increase the size of the explosion, run faster, kick dropped bombs, and even pick them up and lob them over walls... and that's just the beginning. There are also cursed "skull" power-ups that have varying ill effects but can be worked into a good player's strategy because if you touch another player while "infected", you pass the curse on to him. Seeing obstacles as doorways to opportunity. It is the way of SB2.

You'll notice I haven't mentioned anything about the one-player stage-based game, and worry that it's as miserable as previous games in this series. Yes, the Bomberman games past all have this mode which I considered a bonus and not the reason to purchase the games. The original's one-player game was downright dull. It improved a little in Bomberman '93, and in SB2 it's actually quite good. In this huge game, it's you against the "Five Bad Bombers" (translation: five worlds with a boss at the end of each). Most of the elements of battle mode are here but now you can rack up points and kill monsters with your firepower. The screen now scrolls or changes if you pass through a special doorway, making the playfields much larger. There are traps, split-second decisions, and wonderful battle mode-style showdowns with the bosses. In the past I wouldn't even explore this side of the game. In SB2 it's worth the effort.

If you don't already own this game, here's what you need to do. Seek it out. Get a multi-player adaptor for your SNES. Invite three friends over for a night of drinking and Bomberman (you can whisper the "Bomberman" part when you invite them - they'll thank you later), and let the good times roll.



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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:31 PM