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// review by Jeff

Bomberman is, again!

Bomberman's a beloved classic video game character. With easy to understand gameplay mechanics as its foundation, anyone — old, young, middle-aged, infantile, prenatal — can sit back and enjoy a Bomberman game, either alone with only the glow of a 1990s CRT television set to give them comfort or with a group of friends who are eagerly awaiting the chance to force their opponents' internal organs to erupt with flame. Despite the ongoing progression and increasing complexity of video games as a whole, Bomberman has remained true to his roots, all the way up to Super Bomberman R on the Nintendo Switch, his most recent outing and the most successful Bomberman game in a long while.

Super Bomberman 3 is the midpoint in his SNES-based adventures. Only released in Europe and Japan, this entry skipped North America entirely, and I'm fine with that. To be frank, this one is an unfortunate step backward. The first game was an enjoyable, if not entirely polished, affair, while Super Bomberman 2 was definitely a step up in presentation. Super Bomberman 3 takes what the first two did and throws it all out the window in favour of simplification. Well, that and heavily copying from Bomberman '94 and Mega Bomberman.

I like how, in the European manual, the story begins with "In the last episode..." I had no idea Bomberman was now akin to the 60s Batman TV series. Having turned the Five Dastardly Bombers into fodder for local scrap metal yards, Bomberman was all set for a little rest and relaxation (and possibly a good lube job — I'm certain he rusts easily from all those water levels). But his rest was not to be, as a new adversary by the name of Professor Bugler floats down via his UFO-shaped spacecraft and, locating the bodies of the Five Dastardly Bombers, collects and recycles them for another round of battling. Professor Bugler's target? Bomber Nebula, the planetary system where Bomberman lives! The United Planet Federation calls upon Bomberman yet again to tackle this incoming threat and show Professor Bugler who's best in class!

Bomberman's a blast at parties!

As in the previous games, the single player mode consists of Bomberman traveling from planet to planet, ridding each world of whatever maniacal creatures have been planted there. Unlike previous games, each planet has its own primary hub for accessing four levels and a boss fight, though each level is only unlocked by completing the previous one. Each level consists of several different grid-based screens, all of which Bomberman must traverse by blasting enemies and removing blockades in his path with the power of his bombs. But Bomberman no longer has to kill all the enemies on screen to succeed; instead, as long as he destroys several orbs that somehow control the passage out, he can proceed onward. That's actually a little refreshing, as some enemies can have unpredictable movement patterns and are generally a nuisance to kill.

Some blockades hide sweet upgrades, including an increase in the number of bombs you can simultaneously lay, improved range of firepower, being able to walk over blocks, and my ever-present personal favourite, the remote control bomb, allowing Bomberman to plant a bomb, walk away, and detonate at his leisure. The game moves more quickly when that one's in play! New to the Super Bomberman series are Louies, kangaroo-type creatures whose eggs can be found in various levels. Hopping on board a Louie nets you some extra skills, like dashing, kicking bombs, or jumping. To me, a Louie basically acts as an extra hit in case you misstep into a fiery explosion.

The levels themselves don't really differ much aside from their environs, and you just end up pushing your way through. Maybe that's why the instruction manual only devotes two pages to it. As far as challenge goes, this one's a little lower than the others because you aren't required to defeat all the enemies. Even the boss battles are a step down. The final boss brawl is an underwhelming cakewalk, leaving me feeling a little unsatisfied for the ending sequence.

Bomberman's bread-and-butter lies in its multiplayer, as is expected, and this very much like all the others, pitting up to five players together in one battle arena, thanks to the Super Multitap accessory produced by Hudson Soft themselves, designed to let five individuals plug in their controllers simultaneously. Once you've selected which Bomber-character you're going to be, of which there are some seriously odd choices — the Hispanic-themed maraca-shaking "Mexican Bomberman", the spearchucking "Bomber Uhoo", and the Russian "Bomber Cossack" come to mind — you can choose one of ten arenas in which to brawl, most of whom have goofy names like "Swamp Boogie" or "Move 'N Groove". Then it's off to try and blast your friends into the next millennium. Just keep an eye out for the nasty Skull icon; if you collect that, you'll suffer from any number of strange ailments, including — I kid you not — "diarrhoea", which basically makes Bomberman drop bombs continuously all over the place.

That's... that's just wrong.

Super Bomberman 3 won't win any brownie points with its presentation, however, as it's far worse off than Super Bomberman 2, and that's the biggest disappointment. The graphics have been severely simplified, making it resemble the older games on the TurboGrafx-16 console and giving the game a less-polished look. Nothing looks absolutely awful, but considering how the gameplay has barely changed, the game's in dire need of a little extra visual sparkle. The music has also been downgraded, heavily relying on remixes from older Bomberman games. Again, this won't be enough to cause your organs to retract in horror, but still too muffled in comparison to the previous game. I do appreciate the inclusion of some weird hip-hop beats from time to time, however, so I'll credit them that.

Super Bomberman 3 was the final game of the SNES-based series released outside of Japan, and that's fine. The series was beginning to suffer from Mega Man-itis around this point, where games were being released without significant changes attempting to improve them at all. At least Capcom gave him a Mega Buster around the halfway point of the series to breathe a little life back into the poor guy. Maybe Bomberman needs a Bomber Buster of some kind...

We Call It Acieed!

...errr, unless you're American.

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