Neo Bomberman: An Unexpected Review by Bobak!
Neo Bomberman is a game that lies on that odd periphery of the Neo Geo world: the MVS only. Hudson Soft (the bee people), released it as an MVS game in 1997. For some reason (maybe a lack of faith in the Neo Geo community, bastards), Hudson Soft never saw fit to release the game on home cart or CD. Making matters even more complicated for gamers, Neo Bomberman is an uncommon MVS game that's pricier than most MVS carts. Is a game like this even worth tracking down? I say yes, but read my review and judge for yourself.
Neo Bomberman is a faithful chapter of the Bomberman series (unlike Panic Bomber, but that's another story). If you've never played a Bomberman game (if not, you should on at least some platform), the game is simple. You control Bomberman, a little person in a pseudo-spacesuit who must run around a maze and plant bombs to destroy enemies and blast obstacles. The bombs are on a timer, so you have a limited amount of time to plant the bomb to kill an enemy without being blown away as well or being touched by an enemy in the meantime. The key to any Bomberman game is mastering both navigating the maze speedily and planting bombs in a strategic fashion (especially against smarter enemies). You finish a level when you eliminate all the enemies within the set time.
Neo Bomberman has a story (Bomberman's friends have been kidnapped by aliens or something like that), but like most Bomberman games, the fun is in blowing things up -not thinking about plot. In fact, Neo Bomberman has the added bonus of a Battle mode where you can duke it out with a friend and/or up to 3 computer opponents for four-way mayhem. No story, no frills, just twelve selectable characters and a decent AI. So how does this game stack up in practice?
The graphics for Neo Bomberman are exactly what the graphics for a Bomberman game need to look like -and should look like with the color capabilities of the Neo Geo. All the characters and backgrounds are decorated in bright, happy colors that are pleasing to look at and easy to differentiate. The bosses in normal mode are large and my only caveat is the limited size of the play field (in Mega-Bomberman [Genesis] the play field could scroll in different directions but in Neo Bomberman the maze is one screen only). Do the graphics go to any new heights for the system or the series? No, while the characters are big (relative to other Bomberman games) and the colors and shading are great, the game breaks no new ground. Still, I don't think you'll be disappointed.
While the sound is great in Neo Bomberman, the music falls into the Neo Geo music trap: The songs sound like they're coming from the end of a hallway. I'm not sure if this is supposed to fool us into thinking we are listening to stereo sound -I found it a bit of a drawback from the passable background tunes. That gripe aside, its the sound effect in any Bomberman that make our break the audio department; and in that area Neo Bomberman does the job. The bombs make nice booms, and the characters all have good voices that cry out when terminated and yell victory cries after a successful bout. The announcer, while speaking in English, has that hilariously bad Japanese accent that we Neo Geo gamers have grown to love. I found his announcement of 'winner' ("Wienaar!!!") after a Battle round equal to Andres Cantor's cry of "GOOOAAAALLL!" in a soccer match -it makes you want to raise your fist and yell like a gladiator (or maybe its just me...). I also found the female voice that announces the abilities you pick up (kick = "Kyeeeck!) to be a hoot as well. Overall, nothing really leaps into the 'exceptional' category, but, like the graphics, there isn't anything that will negatively affect your gaming experience.
In the all-important realm of playability, Neo Bomberman succeeds! The play controls are sharp. Your little guy can move where you need with no problem. Other than the badly placed bomb on my part, I never once yelled "cheap!" at the screen (although I did yell a few other choice words after accidental suicides). The power-ups are plentiful and kick-ass. You can pick up the ability to kick and throw bombs, increase the number of bombs you can place, have a bigger explosion radii, climb onto the back of a bunch of different creatures, and much more. Nothing to complain about here.
While the story mode could possible get tedious after many outings, the battle mode was made for replay value. Not only do the different battle mode characters have their own unique special powers, but you have the option of four different play fields to make the action even more challenging (if not downright chaotic). These option keep it fresh, and the computer AI in Battle mode is strong enough to keep you challenged in even one-player mode -with 2 human players and 2 computer players its a free for all. Combine that with 2-player simultaneous as an option in normal mode and you have one great party game. Then again, if you hate Bomberman games...once may be enough (No soup for you!).
What can I say? If you like the Bomberman series and you like Neo Geo, this is the perfect game for you. While I would have liked the added bonus of the bigger mazes from other Bomberman games, the Battle mode more than makes up for it in added replay value (after all, every Neo Geo game has to be a fighter in one way or another). Not being a big fan of Hudson Soft's other Bomberman themed game, Panic Bomber (it was a straight puzzle game), I was hesitant when trying Neo Bomberman. After a good run through, I think the game stands well on its own.
REPLAY VALUE: High, especially with 2 players.
DIFFICULTY: Normal mode: fair / Battle mode: Hard
More Reviews of This Game:
by Kazuya_UK - Courtesy of Kazuya's
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List | AES
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