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Bomberman Hero

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Reviewed by Scott McCall There are some things in life that go hand-in-hand. Cookies and milk. Cake and ice cream. Beer and pretzels. Bomberman and a multi-player mode. Sunday and football. Old people and golf. So if there are things that are so synonymous with each another, why would you ever, ever change them? Likewise, why would you ever release a Bomberman game without a multi-player mode? Yes, it's blasphemy that it happened, but Bomberman Hero has hit the N64 without such a mode. Somewhat surprisingly, Bomberman 64 turned out to be a pretty big hit for Nintendo with a quite a loyal following of its Adventure mode. I thought the Adventure mode sucked, but let's get back to the task at hand. Now that Bomberman Hero is nothing but a one-player adventure, how did it turn out? Let's say that it's not bad by any means -- maybe kind of fun, in fact -- but it should be mentioned that it's geared more toward kids. In this Bomberman adventure, it seems that the planet Primus Star was attacked by the Garaden Empire. Princess Millian was kidnapped in the process, too. A weird robot, Pibot, escaped via spaceship -- but it crashed. Bomberman was told to check out the crash, came across the robot, and thus, Pibot was able to tell him about the trouble. So now it's up to Bomberman to save the universe. Control in Bomberman Hero consists of firsts and familiarity. Like usual, only the Control Stick can be used for movement. Press it a little to walk and a lot to run. The only problem is that it's too loose. The A button is for jumping -- a Bomberman first. The B button throws bombs, and you can walk, run, and jump while throwing and aiming them. Holding down the B button enables a special "Rolling Bomb" attack. The R button or Bottom C button (you can use either one) lets you set a bomb in place. You can then kick it by pressing the button again or by running into it. The Z button explodes a remote control bomb. Finally, the Left, Right, and Top C buttons let you temporarily and slightly adjust the camera. You cannot move while controlling the camera, nor can you change it permanently. It's almost kind of useless, which can be frustrating. There are also slightly different control schemes for your Power Gear -- Bomber Marine, Bomber Copter, Bomber Slider, and Bomber Jet -- and for Louie. In the case of the Power Gear toys, it's usually that the A button ascends, the B button hovers, and the R, Z, or Bottom C button is your attack. In the case of Louie, an animal you can ride on, you destroy things by jumping on them. One of the nice things about Bomberman Hero is the vast number of levels. There are like five planets, with three areas and a boss, and each of the areas has about four to seven levels inside! That means there are over 50 levels in the game. Also of note about the levels is that each one is relatively short, straightforward, and easy to complete. Furthermore, some levels have several exits. Fortunately, you can go back and play any level already completed. In a nice change of pace from the "collect X number of these items, X number of these, X number of these..." type of gameplay seen in Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, et al., you basically only have to reach the exit. There are crystals to collect along the way (200 will increase your life meter by one; you start out with four pieces of the meter and can get up to eight), which net you points, and you can defeat enemies for more points. There is a target number of points to reach on each stage. If you defeat all enemies and find all items, you should have a perfect score, if not a few more points! But it's not necessary to do this unless you want to open up the secrets. Even then, it not as painstaking to collect and kill everything as in other 3D games. There are quite a few items in the game. First of all, you can find some classic Bomberman power-ups. For example, the Bomb Up increases the number of bombs you have (up to four). Fire Up increases the blast radius of the bomb blasts (up to four). Then there are these other power-ups: Remote Control bombs (detonators), Life Hearts (fills energy by one), Full Hearts (fills all the way), 1-Ups (extra life), Salt Bombs (used to solely destroy slugs), Freeze Bombs (freeze enemies), Fire Resistance Suits (makes it so severe conditions, i.e., wind, will not damage you), Wall-Through items (lets you walk through walls), and Power Gloves (used to throw bombs farther). There are many non-power-up items you'll encounter, too: Bubble Panels (makes Bomberman float), Transceivers (for hints), Crystals (collect to increase your life meter; blue is worth one crystal and 50 points, red is worth five crystals and 250 points), Gold Stones (worth 500 points), Rainbow Stones (worth 1,000 points), Key Crystals (collect four to open the exit on some levels), Card Keys (must be found on some levels to open doors), Other-Dimension Bombs (hidden on many levels; opens up a secret if all are collected), and Data Disks (needed to open certain doors). Graphically, Bomberman Hero is certainly nowhere near as good looking as Banjo-Kazooie. Curiously, it's not as sharp or colorful as Bomberman 64's Adventure mode, either. The graphics are actually kind of bland, albeit with its share of variety and subsequent repetition over the span of the game, without any real special effects or anything. There can be too much object-based pop-up on certain levels, too. Although I must say that it makes decent use of real-time cinema sequences, and you'll notice that Bomberman is more animated than before. Sound-wise, again, Bomberman Hero doesn't seem to be as good as Bomberman 64. The interesting mix of computer/space-related music and sound effects and typically happy, soothing Japanese music won't appeal to many people. You may opt to turn it off, but I enjoy its cheesy nature. Sound effects are nothing special, and there's even a teeny bit of voice in the game. Bomberman Hero emerges as a surprisingly fun game. The straightforward nature of the game design means kids will probably get the most enjoyment, but for some reason it also made me think back to the fun and gameplay of 8-bit Nintendo games. Alas, there is no multi-player mode, which means the gameplay and lastability scores are going to have to be docked. Bomberman Hero is something you'll definitely want to check out if you're into platform games, though. Now that its one-player mode is heading in the right direction, how about bringing back a brand-new, improved multi-player mode?

Graphics: 3.3 out of 5 Sound: 3.2 out of 5 Control: 3.3 out of 5 Gameplay: 3.7 out of 5 Lastability: 2.9 out of 5 Overall: 3.4 out of 5

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