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RELEASE DATE (NA): September 1993 GENRE: Action
// review by SoyBomb

Friendly neighbourhood Bomberman.

In most careers, bringing a bomb to work would instantly get you fired — or worse. MUCH worse. But not our pal Bomberman. No, he's built quite a successful career out of pulling bombs out of nobody-knows-quite-where-on-his-body and using them to blast evil doers into the sky. From his humble beginnings on Japanese personal computers in 1983, Bomberman has since become an iconic "classic" video game characters whose frantic multiplayer action still manages to captivate a loyal audience to this day, thanks to games such as Super Bomberman R for the Nintendo Switch. But long before THAT game secured a hip new generation audience, Bomberman was being Super on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System through a series of five games, the last having been released solely in Japan in 1997.

Though not really touched upon in great detail in the game itself, there actually IS a plot in Super Bomberman. First of all, Bomberman apparently was born (or created, or however he was spawned) in a place called "Peace Town". It sounds like a seriously peaceful place where cotton candy grows on trees and the national anthem is an apology letter. But we're looking far north of that, to the booming metropolis of Diamond City, where a major robot tournament is taking place (isn't this the plot of Mega Man 6?). 'Tis the work of Carat Diamond and his sidekick-in-crime, Dr. Mook! What a mook! What they really want is information concerning Bomberman's advanced skills, so they sent a fake Bomberman to kidnap the real one. Black Bomberman (yes, the one who's black, obviously) catches wind of Carat Diamond's nasty plot and tries to intervene, but he fails miserably and gets his castle seized in the process. Luckily, he swiftly escapes imprisonment and goes to warn "regular" Bomberman, who can then fend for himself and give Diamond and the Mook a blast they'll never forget!

The first Super Bomberman game sets the stage for the rest of the series. Each stage implants you on a 13x11 grid, where Bomberman's goal is to blast all the various enemies that are scooting around and reach the goal portal within a limited amount of time. (The time limit is very lenient; it won't be a bother.) Each arena is covered in blocks that also need to be destroyed so you can move around more easily. At will, Bomberman can drop bombs that, after a short while, will explode in a cross-shaped pattern. Every eighth stage brings a rather large boss, although a slew of bombs will easily take care of them! If desired, a second player can also join in on this mayhem.

Are you scared of clowns? Well, you might be now.

Along the way, he will uncover bonus panels to power up, such as an increased number of bombs to plant at one time, increased firepower to widen your blast range, rollerskates to give Bomberman that extra dashing edge to escape sticky situations, and — my personal favourite and the thing that makes life so much easier — remote control, letting you leave a bomb, run away, then press the B button to detonate from a safe and enjoyable distance. Honestly, once you have all the major power-ups, this game becomes immensely easier. I wouldn't totally relax from this, but I'd unclench a few things.

And that's pretty much the basic Bomberman formula: just blast everything in your path, making sure that you don't take an explosion to the backside as well.

But Bomberman's bread-and-butter, despite the single-player getting top billing on the title screen, is the action-packed multiplayer Battle Mode, pitting you against several other Bombermen to see who can blast whom first and reign supreme as the lone survivor. This is the mode that has survived over the decades and still is a mainstay in most Bomberman games. As usual, it's a mad-cap frenzy, and losing a few friends in the process isn't out of the question. SNES games don't use this feature often, but despite only having two controller ports, you can actually have up to four human players connected at once using Hudson Soft's very own Super Multitap adapter — in fact, the game came BUNDLED with the device at one point. Failing that, there are always CPU players to blow away.

Looking at the first Super Bomberman from a design perspective, it's relatively basic. As expected with the first game of a series, the graphics are functional but not yet fully detailed. Certainly they're an improvement over the NES games, but after the clean appearance of Bomberman '93 on the TurboGrafx-16 the same year, Super Bomberman looks gritty and unpolished. The enemies, in particular, are as basic and uninspired as they come, but you'll be too distracted by your mission of turning them into piles of ashen remains to notice much. Despite most being particularly memorable, there's more than enough cheer and fanfare in the game's soundtrack to motivate you to go through one more level. Plus, the very first world of the game features the now iconic Bomberman stage theme song, so there's that to look forward to.

Also, Hudson Soft seems to believe I am an excellent decision-maker:

For pure unbuttered Bomberman enjoyment, this is a pretty good place to start. It's not as smooth-looking or sounding as Bomberman '93, but the core game is just as enjoyable. If a Bomberman fix is what you need, step up to the SNES. And to think, there are four more of these on the system...

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