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CONSOLE: GameCube DEVELOPER: Hudson Soft PUBLISHER (US): Majesco
RELEASE DATE (NA): June 3, 2002 GENRE: Action/Adventure
// review by SoyBomb

Bomberman becomes a cel-out!

I honestly don't know how I feel at this point.

Bomberman Generation is one of those games where, even while playing, you are really on the fence about whether you love it or hate it. I still haven't figured it out. On the one hand, it's a fairly innovative game with a variety of features and a certain level of character customization at your command. On the other hand, the game can deliver headaches of snoozery at any given moment.

The Bomberman series' storylines have never been their strong suit, and Bomberman Generation is no exception. It seems the secret behind where the universe gets its power from has finally been discovered to be Bomb Elements, six crystals whose strength is currently unknown. The great Professor Ein had a space carrier pick up the elements for further study. Of course, this was a stupid plan, as the weak carrier is easily destroyed and the crystals fall to a nearby planet. The Hige Hige Bandits, who were behind the initial carrier attack, are also after the Bomb Elements, at which point they can use the power for despicable purposes. Alongside Bomberman's longtime enemies, the Crush Bombers, Bomberman has a rough road ahead in regaining control of the Bomb Elements AND defeating his rivals. Okay, it's not a terrible plot, but it does reek of cliché, especially since this kind of thing has happened in previous Bomberman games.

Bomberman travels to different worlds and has the basic goal of surviving to the end. These levels are pretty long -- they can easily equate to over twenty minutes of gameplay (often more if some of the puzzles found within are challenging). Equipped with his arsenal of bombs, Bomberman will brave forests, deserts, ruins, and more, all for the purpose of tracking down those Bomb Elements. He starts out weak: he can only lay one bomb at a time, he has very little blast power, and he can't run very quickly. By destroying parts of his surroundings (large jars at first, but later, other objects), he can uncover icons to improve his abilities. Icons with a heart on them restore some health, which is indicated by a heart meter. In particular locations, he can also merge a bomb with a picked-up item to create a new type of bomb based on other elements, such as water, wind, and light, which have their own uses later on. To find these items, you'll have to play rather frustrating and mindless mini-games that are NOT enjoyable and do not involve standard Bomberman gameplay. But they are necessary, and they are winnable. Suck it up.

Bomberman can also make use of Charaboms. Very similar to Pokémon, he can use these creatures' abilities, if equipped, to help him on his quest. Some may allow Bomberman to throw bombs higher or set off bombs via remote control. Charaboms are picked up in the various stages either via special battle stages (very much like Pokémon indeed) or at specific merging stations. You can level them up using special icons found when breaking jars. Finding all these special merging stations, mini-games, etc. requires you to really keep your eyes open, as they are fairly well-hidden within the stages.

The action in Bomberman Generation is, shall we say... explosive?!

Well, this has all sounded very exciting, hasn't it? ...No? Yeah, well, here's the problem: the game actually isn't all that thrilling. Bomberman Generation isn't as engaging as it should be. The concept is great, but the execution is dry. And when you're having quite the difficulty solving a puzzle, the tedium slaps you in the face like a dead moose. Is it always dull? No, there can be some enjoyable times, but often, I just found myself yawning. Little kids will love this game, but I didn't really get the kick out of it I expected, which is disappointing because I love the character.

There's more: the difficulty is unbalanced. You may find a couple of stages to be fairly easy (moreso in the first pair of worlds in the game), but then you reach a boss fight and everything suddenly becomes complicated. Bosses seem vulnerable for such a limited amount of time, so it's a race just to reach them with a large bomb to injure them. And often, you need to hit them with the bomb in a specific body part or else the attack will fail. You end up replaying the same boss fight over and over. Who wants that? At least the developers kept a multiplayer mode to remind Bomberman fans of olde that they haven't forgotten about the bomber's golden years.

While the gameplay does suffer a bit, I will say this: Bomberman Generation looks great. It was one of the first GameCube games to employ the cel-shading visual technique, and it makes all the difference. I'm amazed at how vibrant everything looks; the worlds are so bright and attractive! Special detail always went into the enemies; the bosses, especially, are a delight to see. I wish I could say the same of the audio in Bomberman Generation. The music, though peppy, is sadly quite generic and has a cornball vibe. But worse yet, why does Bomberman sound like a little girl? That's almost insulting. Professor Ein at least sound normal, though he usually has absolutely nothing important to say anyhow.

Those with nostalgic feelings for Bomberman from the 1980s and early 1990s will probably cry a little. Those who loved Bomberman 64, on the other hand, will likely connect better. As for me, I really wanted to love Bomberman Generation, but in the end, it's an average game. (Wait, didn't Majesco publish this? Maybe that explains it.) Kids will go ape over it, but adults will find less to love about this limited experience.

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