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RELEASE DATE (NA): September 1994 GENRE: Action
// review by SoyBomb

If he's so super, where's his cape?

Ah, sequelitis, the deadly disease that has impacted hundreds of video games' lives. For some, they are an opportunity to correct ill-begotten mistakes made during development of the first game. For others, it's an easy way to capitalize on popularity endured by its predecessor. And for games like Super Bomberman 2 on the SNES, it's the best method for giving us more of that sweet, sweet Bomberman action.

Despite having just defeated Carat Diamond and the equally vicious Dr. Mook in the first game, there's no time to rest for our presumably robotic hero, for even more hoodwinkery is on the loose! Five space cyborgs, the Five Dastardly Bombers, have entered the fray with a goal of world—nay, universe—domination! After learning that Bomberman will probably attempt to cease their operations and likely succeed, they kidnap the poor guy and imprison him in their galactic base. His new goal: break free... THEN stop the Five Dastardly Bombers from their insane quest!

As you may expect from Bomberman, he's still a fully qualified explosive technician, able to generate bombs from nobody-quite-understands-where and use them to aid in justice! Each stage plunks Bomberman straight into a grid-like fray filled with hate-filled enemies that must all be destroyed to complete the level and move on, as well as blocks everywhere that block (haw haw) your path and also require bombs to effectively remove. There may also be buttons to activate before a large door in a stage will open, giving you the freedom to move on. There are five worlds in total, a downgrade from the previous game, but on the upside, the levels here are longer than before, stretching multiple screens horizontally or vertically, Thank goodness they didn't up the ante on how many enemies are bobbing around.

Obviously, getting caught by the crossfire of your own arsenal will instantly kill you, but so will touching an enemy or just running out of time. The masterfully named "Round 5" (basically, the fifth world of the game) adds another hazard to the mix: invisible mines. The levels are already pretty dark as it is, but if you're scooting about and happen to step on one of these, you earn a one-way ticket to Bomber Heaven. They only shimmer in appearance when you standing next to them, but in a rush, you're very likely to plow one down before the game is done. Those mines are my biggest pet peeve in the game, even more so than that strange powerup where your bombs turn to jelly and bounce around. Bizarre.

The sun'll come out... tomorr—oh, gosh, put that sun away!

Bomberman starts out as a weak fellow, able to drop only one low-range bomb at a time. But thanks to whoever decided to hide upgrade panels underneath some of the breakable blocks, Bomberman can increase his bomb count, his firepower, and his ability to run from danger. He can even gain the ability to pick up a bomb and toss it (a necessity at a certain point) or run across blocks as though they were never there. And, as before, my favourite powerups still rocks the socks: remote controlled bombs, detonating when I want them to, not when some Hudson Soft employee thinks a bomb should go off. Freedom of 'splosion, my friends! Rise up!

As is Bomberman custom, the multiplayer Battle Mode is back to rock the socks of anyone willing to blow up their friends. Having the Hudson-developed Super Multitap add-on allows up to four players to give each other the 21-bomb salute in one of twelve different arenas, each with its own theme, like sliding ice, purposely annoying conveyor belts, or, uhhh, big puffy leaf clods that block your vision. Fun can definitely be had igniting your loved ones. Unlike the first game, however, you cannot bring a second player into the main story mode. You're forced to go it alone!

I have to say (because if I don't, then my job remains incomplete), I'm rather impressed at the leap between Super Bomberman and Super Bomberman 2. Though the core mechanics remain unchanged, the overall visual presentation has seen a sharp upgrade from bubbly sprites to those of greater pixely-sweet detail. Same goes for the soundtrack: the music now has a serious spring to its step with more uplifting and far less generic tracks in its fanny pack. Sometimes I don't know whether to play the game or get up and break a hip. Maybe I'll do both; it'll make for a sordidly interesting afternoon.

Super Bomberman 2 is the visual and auditory upgrade you've been looking for if Super Bomberman simply looked too plain. I highly recommend this spiffy sequel, whether you're looking for a challenging-but-not-TOO-frustrating adventure or just a way to teach your friends a valuable lesson in revolutionary explosive technology. This was the last of the Super Bomberman games to reach North American shores, but Europe received one more, and Japan... well, they apparently couldn't get enough of the guy and pumped out three more games on the Super Famicom before finally moving on. The story doesn't end here...

...errr, unless you're American.

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