Bomberman Live Review

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Publisher: Hudson Entertainment
Developer: Backbone Entertainment

Platform: Xbox 360
Reviewed on Xbox 360

Bomberman has brought his friends and his antics to Xbox Live, with his latest party game for the Xbox 360, Bomberman Live. Play the traditional competitive Bomberman bombing games, now with up to eight players partaking of the multiplayer mayhem.

Kyle Ackerman

Bomberman Live is the essence of classic console gaming. The Bomberman franchise is host to countless games (like Bomberman Jetters and Bomberman Generation), but there's a reason Bomberman games include the frenetic party game action that has carved out such a soft spot in gamers' hearts for the giant-headed bombardier.

The fast-paced action of Bomberman mini-games always comes down to the same formula: You and the other players (all as Bomberman or his seemingly endless supply of friends) run around a grid of squares defined by hard (indestructible) blocks (except the Plunder Isle map), blowing up soft blocks, collecting power-ups, and blasting the other Bombermen. Just to make things more difficult, some variants have dead Bombermen piloting revenge carts to hurl bombs onto the game board from the edges.

There have been variations throughout gaming history, on the Bomberman formula, but Bomberman Live brings the party game online. Instead of having to haul three of your friends to sit on your couch and break out the GameCube, you can match up with seven other Bomberman fans online, anytime you like. Of course, you can still play a four-person local game, as well.

Bomberman Live has eight different maps. Allowing players to try variations on the classic Bomberman map, each has new twists, like quicksand to slow the player, ice cracks, trap doors and even a "Big Top" map in which everyone starts with the ability to kick bombs, and bombs don't always follow a straight line. It's a pleasure to play games on the different maps, with online opponents always available, although the maps seem too small for all eight online players to compete. The players stationed toward the interior of the map seem to die a lot more often than players who start in the four corners.

Players can configure their own personal Bomberman with 24 different costumes, with control over the head, body and legs to mix and match a tremendous variety of Bomberman styles. Personally, I'm enamored of Maximus Bombicus, a Roman-themed Bomberman who looks a lot like Marvin the Martian. More costumes are unlocked by playing single player matches, and you'll need certain unlockable costumes to finish a few of the achievements.

More exciting than the costumes are the configurable matches. Matches can be set for any length, using a variety of power-ups or power-downs, subject to sudden-death or not, with the option to use revenge carts. They can even be configured as extensive tournaments. That means that you can tweak your Bomberman Live experience to meet your exacting preferences.

But ultimately, it's still a Bomberman game. You might find yourself regularly returning to Bomberman Live for another quick match or even a tournament, but Bomberman matches aren't a lasting pastime anymore. They're a welcome, brief diversion. You simply have to decide if you'll jump into the Bomberman Live fray often enough to merit the 800 points ($10) it costs to enter.

But be warned: Bomberman Live supports the Xbox Live Vision camera. When a match is over, you'll see your Bomberman in a box indicating your placement, and eagerly dancing if you won. However, if you have the Xbox Live Vision camera activated, everyone playing will see what your camera sees. Sadly, while this should be an occasion for players to politely revel in their victory, I've seen little from the Xbox Live Vision-enabled players that I want to see. Some of it gave me nightmares. I'd be much happier to forgo the experience of seeing other Xbox 360 owners in the flesh. Sometimes, far too much flesh.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on July 24, 2007 8:01 PM.

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