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RELEASE DATE (JP): December 20, 1996 GENRE: Puzzle/Sports
// review by Jeff

When you win, you're Daman!

Japan loves marbles. Or, more specifically, Japanese toy company Takara WANTS us to love marbles. But the concept of marbles is nothing new: you flick marbles to hit other marbles until you realize there's a Nintendo upstairs, and you go play that instead.

But, going one step further, we have B-Daman, a toy that actually shoots the marbles (called B-Dama) out. It uses a very specific size of marbles, and you can purchase DLC buy additional attachments that affect your B-Daman's shot power, control... even whether it can rapid fire out marbles. Gosh... rapid fire? Do we really need little kids with marble Tommy guns? In order to first popularize the toy, they needed a hook, and what better way to sell bland marble madness than with the Bomberman license? Between 1993 and 1999, several series of "Bomberman B-Daman" figures were released. But they didn't stop there: manga series, animated series, and even two video games all based on Bomberman B-Daman were created, though outside of Japan, we had no idea.

We, the daft and inappreciable Western market were unaware of this phenomenon until Atlus decided they needed some extra GBA titles to pad out its library, though near the end of the Game Boy Advance lifespan. Thus, we in the West did get "Battle B-Daman" and "Battle B-Daman: Fire Spirits!" to quench that marblicious thirst we never knew we had.

But let's look at Bomberman B-Daman, a Japan-exclusive game for the Super Famicom, straight outta Compton very late 1996. It's... a pretty darn boring game that gets old quickly. In the main mode of the game, once you select the Bomberman of your choice, you're whisked away to what looks like a glorified bowling alley. In each stage, various little bomb-marbles (...called "bomarbles"? No, no, remove this from the review. It's a terrible name for anything. Don't even pretend that's real.) either sit there awaiting contact or fly by in a preset pattern. Your job is to throw your own bomb so that it causes all the other B-Dama to explode in a chain reaction. The first few stages give you the gist of the mechanics, but it quickly becomes much more of a challenge to determine where and with what timing to fire off your next bomb. With 100 rounds of this, it will hold the attention of only the most hardcore of marble-flicking fans. All 3 of them.

This game's a bit of a bomb.

What might bring some extra value to the Bomberman B-Daman package is the inclusion of multiplayer modes. In the Duel mode, two players take turns flicking their marbles to make bombs disappear, similar to the single-player mode. And, as in any and all Bomberman games worth their weight in marbles, there's a Battle mode where four Bombermen flick bomb marbles at each other in an arena-style melee in order to steal each others' points. (Obviously, if you have the most points at the end, you win.) For some reason, I couldn't manage to make the second player CPU-led using the first-player controller, so this gave me a bit of a snag.

Still not satisfied, like I wasn't? Why not enter the My B-Daman mode, where you can create your own custom Bomberman? Edit the colours of his body, and then choose the facial expression of your choice! It's... yeah, it's just that.

Bomberman B-Daman, in theory, isn't a terrible game — nothing is programmed poorly, and the graphics and audio are pleasing enough, as they should be for a late-generation release — but its pull factor is very limited by the fact that it's just a game of marbles that doesn't stay fun for long periods of time. The multiplayer action may elongate your enjoyment, but it's still marbles. This isn't 1928, and people are much harder to entertain. B-Daman, you're not da man anymore.

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