I just want to thank Hudson Software for making me feel old. I can’t believe it’s already been 18 years since I played the original European Bomberman game back when it was still called Dyna Blaster. The premise was, and still is quite simple. You and a whole host of human or CPU controlled enemies are trapped in an arena; only one of you will survive. Step in the bombs that act as both your defence and offence in one of the most loved multiplayer games of all time. If you’ve not played any Bomberman game before then all you need to know is that your goal is to blow up your opponents by dropping bombs and hoping the resulting 4 directional explosion burns them to a crisp. The problem obviously is that whilst you’re trying to eliminate up to 7 other people they are trying to eliminate you at the same time; with each player able to carry a good few bombs at once you can easily see over 20 bombs on screen at once and avoiding the blast area takes good positioning and quick reflexes.
I will just mention that the majority of the Bomberman games have featured a single player story campaign as well as the full on battle mode mentioned above; the thing is that most people weren’t really too impressed with these story campaigns and so the last few games have seen it removed completely. Bomberman Ultra for PS3 is no different; there is only battle mode for either offline or online play. Similarly like Bomberman Live on 360 and Bomberman Blast on WiiWare; Bomberman Ultra is a download only title available on the PSN for just a few dollars. So nearly 20 years later there must be something a little bit different to make this version of Bomberman stand out from the crowd of its hefty back catalogue. Indeed one cool new feature is the ability to unlock costumes and create your own cool looking Bomberman avatar; it’s not quite as cool as using Mii’s like Wii game but it’s a nice touch.
Gameplay is pretty much as you’d expect from a Bomberman title; this is a fun and frantic bomb blasting battle with a whole host of pickups which can help or hinder your game. As you destroy the arena blocks, special items such as; Extra bombs to drop and Flame Boosters will appear. These have obvious and useful uses but why stop there when you can travel faster with roller skates and throw bombs with a power glove. With stacks of other items you can develop your own strategy which makes playing random people online even more interesting because their game style might be radically different to yours. One addition I am not too keen on are the Bomb Shelters; these huge view obstructing towers will protect anyone from a bomb blast; my problem is that they obscure too much of the battlefield and attract campers. Depending on the game settings chosen at the start; things like sudden death and the ability to take part after your death via the sidelines can spice things up when the timer is running close to the end and a number of people are still battling away.
Of course there is much more I could mention including the different game modes and different arena’s but the most important thing for me was the online multiplayer for up to 8 people. Sadly the part of the game I was most looking forward to is also the most disappointing. Now offline multiplayer is always a hoot for 4 mates and you’d think online with 8 players should double the fun right? Well yes in theory it should. The problem I found was that hardly anyone else seems to be playing online; if you’re lucky enough to find someone hosting a match it tends to never actually get enough players to start and the host gets bored of waiting and kicks everyone off. You could try hosting your own game but don’t be surprised if you only get a handful of random people to actually play with you, instead you’ll need to convince people on your friends list to buy the game if you really want to have fun with online play.
Bomberman Ultra is an extensive battle experience which delivers solid gameplay but doesn’t really push the boat out. Even though it runs in a super smooth 720p you could be mistaken for thinking this was a 32bit era title; it doesn’t feel like Hudson have really pushed themselves to make a next gen Bomberman quite yet.
Overall then a typical Bomberman game which should fit happily on most PS3 owners game library; if you don’t go expecting anything other than a fun retro Bomberman battle experience you probably won’t be disappointed. A well-deserved but must try harder next time score of; 6 out of 10.
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