Definitely Not The Bomb
Those of us who remember the original Bomberman (1 and 2) on the NES recall it as one of the best multiplayer games of its time. It incorporated simplistic controls, simple graphics and game play that just kept the players wanting more. It proved that a game didn't have to be the most technologically advanced to be great, it just had to be fun. Unfortunately, Atomic Bomberman, Interplay's PC version of the original Bomberman, offers minimal advancements since the original came out 7 years ago. While diehard classic arcade fans may appreciate this, they also still have all their Atari 2600 carts. For most of us it looks incredibly basic when compared to many hits out today.
You would think that with the high-end machines they had to work with, Atomic Bomberman's graphics would have had new "twists", cool little scenes or camera angles that don't take away from the basic game design but add a little spice. However, it fails to live up to this. All graphics are 2D bitmaps, while levels are the same 2D tiles. All graphics including player sprites, power-ups and level tiles look absurdly large. The game would have been better with larger levels (this means smaller objects). The only noticeable graphical improvement since its predecessor would be the fact that Atomic Bomberman has better death-sequence animations. Other than that, I would be much happier playing my old Super Bomberman II on the SNES.
One of the best aspects about the original Bomberman series on the NES and SNES would be the fact that it didn't take a game guru to master the controls and basic idea of the game. With only 2 non-directional keys, one of which drops a bomb and other takes care of every other action (punch bomb and detonate timer bomb), any idiot could quickly pick up and play any of the Bomberman series without any prior knowledge of the game. The game itself is self-explanatory. Players control one person, or bomberman, each. The goal is blow the other people up with bombs that you drop, without blowing yourself up. As you blow away different pieces of the level to open up more playing space, different power-ups will appear. These power-ups give players different abilities such as bigger bombs, more bombs (to drop at once), punch (to punch a bomb away from you), kick (kicks the bomb away from you), timer-bomb, roller skate (for more speed), and poison. If you pick up a poison item (box with skull on it) you can become infected with such ailments as Molasses, Constipation, or the inability to drop bombs, or the inability to stop dropping bombs. This poison can be given to other players by touching them.
Allowing up to ten players, the multiplayer support is one of the most important features. AI and human player can be mixed and matched to create what can only be described as fun chaos: ten people in one small arena. Thus the enhanced multiplayer support is one of the factors that keeps Atomic Bomberman from totally dying out.
Sounds are probably the most improved aspect since the earlier versions. A number of sounds arise when the player gets power-ups. A bomberman might cry out, "That's mine" when grabbing that extra bomb. Fast-beat techno jams are played constantly in the background.
Unfortunately, Atomic Bomberman just didn't live up to what it was I hoped for. Graphics were disappointingly simple. The game play stayed nearly the same to its predecessors, which basically involved walking around and dropping bombs. The level editing and animation-editing programs aren't even worth mentioning. They are the most non-user-friendly tools I have ever seen shipped with a game. Those who know little about graphics, animations or game design will find these utilities extremely difficult if not impossible to use due to the lack of documentation or support. Another horrible aspect about the game is its size, at full install you are looking at 500+ Megs being taken on your hard drive. My only question is how. How can such a simple game take up so much damn room? Most people would be better off grabbing an emulation of one of the Super Bomberman series that appeared on the SNES a couple years back. Unless you are a huge Bomberman fan, you should save your money for a better game.