Review: Bomberman (PSP)

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Good: It's not Bomberman Act Zero

Bad: Trial-and-error heavy gameplay

Unlockable: The Original Bomberman in 3D

For those of you who cried foul when the atrocious Bomberman: Act Zero was released, good news: from developer Hudson comes Bomberman for the PSP. Unlike Zero, Bomberman is a return to the series' traditional look and feel. No Master Chief-inspired character models and no cheesy, exposition-heavy load screens. Just a bomb-hurling, pink, white and blue robot blasting his way through randomly generated levels.

While the gameplay and design of the original is intact, Bomberman does feature one new gameplay element called the Item Stock System. This system allows you to stockpile power-ups found throughout the level instead of using them immediately like in past Bomberman titles.

For newcomers this system is invaluable. Every Bomberman title has a large amount of trial-and-error attached to it and while it is still frustrating to die because of an unpredicted enemy movement, wrong step or misplaced bomb, the game is much less about perfection. Dying doesn't mean you have start from scratch anymore since you can just use items to boost yourself back up to your previous level.

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Veterans of the series, however, will find that the Item Stock System makes the game substantially easier than other entries for that very reason. You don't have to worry as much about precision or strategy when you can use power-ups that make you immune to fire, allow you to blast through multiple blocks or become temporarily invincible.

There are 100 levels in the single-player game divided over 10 worlds. Each world has it's own theme (ice, jungle, haunted house, etc) and the tenth level of each world has a boss. Boss battles are largely pattern-based. So much so, that the early bosses can be beaten without ever dropping a bomb because their attack and movement patterns overlap so often. As the game becomes more difficult this happens less frequently, but it still happens.

While the single-player game provides a decent, albeit repetitive distraction with its long single-player and the bonus original game, the Bomberman series' staying power has always been the fast-paced, highly addictive multiplayer. Luckily, Bomberman supports any multiplayer combination of four human or computer-controlled opponents via the PSP's Ad Hoc connection. Better still, Bomberman doesn't require each player to own a copy of the game. One copy can be used to support multiplayer across three other PSPs.

While Bomberman's multiplayer does not really bring anything new to the series' versus modes, it doesn't lose any of the fun either. It is possible to adjust the number and skill level of your CPU-controlled opponents and at their harder difficulty settings they really are tough to beat. The multiplayer mode runs smoothly, with minor lag issues when game sharing with more than one other person.

In all, Bomberman will meet fans' expectations of the franchise. It's multiplayer is the strongest asset while the single-player is largely repetitive and at times infuriating-just like every other traditional Bomberman game. The Item Stock System makes it easier for newcomers, but a little too easy for series veterans. Basically, if you enjoy Bomberman games, but hated Zero, this is a worthy alternative.

Graphics: 7.0

Sound: 7.0

Gameplay: 6.5

First Play: 7.5

Last Play: 7.0

Overall: 7.3

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