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CONSOLE: Turbo-Grafx 16 DEVELOPER: Hudson Soft PUBLISHER: Turbo Technologies, Inc.
RELEASE DATE (NA): 1993 GENRE: Action
// review by Jeff

1993 was a good year, wasn't it?

Okay, Bomberman '93 isn't a eurodance compilation mix... but it COULD be!

Nope, Bomberman '93 is one of the relatively earlier games in the long-running (and presumably deceased, thanks to Konami's lack of enthusiasm) Bomberman series. For those not in the know, Bomberman has historically been a defender of justice, protecting Planet Bomber from the dastardly deeds of fiends such as the Chaos Bomber, Emperor Terrorin, or, in this game, Black Bomberman, using his ability to create bombs at will. The evil doppelganger has taken seven power circuits from a local city, causing the citizens to lose their electricity source. It's up to regular "White" Bomberman to visit other planets and retrieve the circuits from monster keepers. And I know what you might be thinking, but no, I don't believe any racism was intended with the whole Black/White Bomberman thing.

Bomberman's full character hadn't been as fleshed out in 1993 as it is today. He developed a deeper backstory as technology advanced a bit more. In fact, only one game before it, Bomberman II for the NES, actually had a plot. But Bomberman also has one other major difference to later appearances: he's, well, a bit on the plump side. Bomberman is portrayed as a short clunky fellow here, as opposed to the slim-built hero we know now. Perhaps he has cut down on his donut intake (he DOES pick up many fruit icons in this game, after all). I guess it doesn't really matter either way, but I thought I'd point that out.

Bomberman '93 is focuses on the "classic" style that fans are most familiar with. In the game, Bomberman must visit seven planets, each divided into seven regular stages and one boss battle. The stages all have a very similar layout: it's more or less a grid filled with either permanent blocks or obstacles that can be destroyed by Bomberman's bombs. It's very necessary to get rid of as many obstacles as you can because not only do they hide various upgrades, but each stage's exit is hidden under a breakable block. Your other goal is to defeat all the enemies in the stage because that's your key to activating the exit pad. Those little guys love to run around like they're on fire, so some tactically-placed bombs should take care of them by conveniently exploding as they pass by.

At first, Bomberman is incredibly underpowered. He can only drop one bomb at a time, and it has a very short blast radius. This is why collecting item cards is so vital. He'll be able to snag extra bombs (being able to lay up to eight if he plays his cards right), additional fire power, and new abilities including being able to run faster, walk over breakable walls, and remotely detonate bombs at his convenience, the latter being my absolute favourite aspect of all Bomberman games. It really helps with timing a blast to when an enemy slips by when you can detonate at your leisure. Just be careful not to accidentally blow up an item card (or the stage exit) — that just makes more enemies appear... for some reason.


Dan Bomberman is always on duty.

For those of us who have friends, Bomberman '93 offers a delightful battle mode (as do many Bomberman games) where you can visit various arenas and try to bomb up to four of your soon-to-not-be-as-close friends. You can customize how many players will be there and who will be controlled by humans or the computer, as well as how many wins it takes to be the reigning champion. This is an absolute staple of Bomberman games old and new, and if you've played the battle mode in other titles, then this will be very familiar ground. Bomberman: He's great at parties!

The game is cute. That's all I can really say about it. It's fun to watch the enemies be defeated, if only to see their eyes bug out in cartoon fashion. Otherwise, the game doesn't really push any graphical boundaries. It's colourful but very simple and functional, although I will give credit for the snow levels, where an adorable Purple Bomberman is shoveling snow while I take care of business. That's downright adorable.

While playing the game, I thought many tunes were simply being reused from other Bomberman games. But because this is actually one of the earlier titles, I think later Bomberman titles actually stole tunes from this one! I can see why: most of the songs are rather jazzy and energizing, including a remixed take on the classic Bomberman theme song from his earliest days. Sound effects are standard, but after defeating a boss, we get a still image of Bomberman conquering it while a really creepy high-pitched voice shouts "Bombermaaaaan!" Scary.

As far as Bomberman games go, this one's a tad on the easy side. It can easily be completed in a couple of hours from beginning to end. But, having gone through this, I can easily say that Bomberman '93 is the pinnacle of what the series was meant to represent: just pure action and fun. Some games have ventured off into stranger, more adventure-based territory, such as Bomberman Quest for Game Boy Color or Bomberman Land for PSP, but if you want to experience the series' roots, then '93 is a great place to start.


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