Reviewed: September 17, 2006
Released: August 29, 2006
Bomberman Act Zero is setting itself up nicely to win all sorts of Game of the Year awards. Worst 360 Game, Worst Action Game, Worst Remake, and quite possible the Worst Game of the year. Unless a real stinker comes out in the next few months this worthless waste of plastic will take home several trophies.
I’m not exactly sure who the braniac at Hudson Soft was that came up with the idea of taking one of the most revered and entertaining franchises in video games and trying to infuse it with all sorts of next-gen, quasi-military, dark ops panache. Gone are the cute characters and colorful playing fields. Our leading man, who used to look like the guy from Dig Dug, now looks like some evil terminator who’s going to rip your head off and shove it…well…you get the idea.
About the only thing going for this title is the cover art and the opening movie, which are both extremely cool and really get you pumped up for something special, then you get dumped into sort of the same game we’ve been playing for more than a decade, only totally screwed up.
Bomberman has always been about the multiplayer experience, and thankfully Hudson Soft at least worked that into Act Zero. There is online support for up to eight players assuming you can find anybody playing online. I suspect they are all in line at the used video game store trading in their copies by now.
If you are left to play this game alone you are in for a most disturbing and frustrating experience. The back of the box proudly proclaims, “Survive through 99 Stages…” but they don’t tell you that you have to do that on a single life. Assuming you could complete each stage in a minute that is 99 minutes of Bomberman without dying. Anybody who has played Bomberman will know this is virtually impossible.
Perhaps the new blocking system and life bar is supposed to support this bold concept. Rather than dying in a single blast you can now take damage. This, and the new item system, try to bring Bomberman into the next-gen with a more aggressive playing style, but when the designers also choose to remove classic staples like throwing and kicking this game becomes even further removed from its roots.
After the stylish opening movie you are greeted with three modes of play. The FPB mode is an endurance game where you must make your way through 99 levels without dying (I made it to 37 once). Unlike classic Bomberman, Act Zero drops the camera low into the maze for a closer and supposedly more exciting perspective. It’s about as fun as playing Pac-Man from inside the maze. At least you can zoom out and pan around the playing field, but who has time to do that when a bunch of AI bots are coming after you.
Standard single-player is the generic play until dead scenario then start over. World Battle takes the Bomberman action online, but since this game is not that fun with bots, replacing them with angry and frustrated human players isn’t much better. At least there is voice support so maybe you can start your own group therapy session on how to cope with bad video game purchases.
Act Zero is a dark game punctuated with so much neon, electrical energy, fire, explosions, and vivid colors it’s hard not to like it, and I would if it had been any other game than Bomberman. Hudson Soft tried to give a cute character and a fun game a gritty edge and failed miserably.
Kudos to a cool opening movie, albeit totally out of place with the franchise. And when you have a game with 99 levels you could at least change up the scenery from time to time. Even the character designs, animation, and items used in the game fail to impress, unless they explode or burn.
Explosions? Check. Okay. We’ve covered the sound for Bomberman. Oh yeah, there's a reasonably repetitive selection of generic rock tunes that will drive you as insane as the gameplay long before you reach level 99. Where is my custom soundtrack support?
The solo game stinks, the multiplayer is pretty much non-existent (cancelled due to lack of interest), and if you are in this for the Achievement points…well, let’s just say you don’t need them that bad. Most objectives are secret so you have to stumble on them (or research them online) and most require more time and effort than you should waste on this game.
If you want to play Bomberman then stick with the classics. The NDS has a fantastic version of the game and just last week Bomberman blasted his way onto the PSP in all his original glory.
Somewhere in the desert, next to that landfill full of ET Atari 2600 game cartridges there is a growing pile of Bomberman: Act Zero…exactly where it belongs.