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Retro Game of the Week: Bomberman 64

On 08/31/2013 at 09:55 AM by The Last Ninja

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Get ready to blow stuff up in this crazy 3D action game

Bomberman is in a long series of games, going all the way back to the NES. In fact, he's probably Hudson's greatest flagship character. When 3D gaming was first introduced, Hudson wanted to translate their hero to 3D along with Mario and Link. Thus Bomberman 64 was born, the first fully 3D Bomberman game, and a great one at that. It was released exclusively for the N64 in 1997. 

After you watch an awesome introduction and press start, the choices are laid before you: Adventure Mode, Battle Mode, and Options. The Adventure Mode includes four worlds: Green Garden, Blue Resort, White Glacier, and Red Mountain. After you beat each world, a fifth world is unlocked: Black Fortress. Each world contains four stages, stage two being a mini-boss, and stage four the final boss. 

The story goes something like this: a villain named Altair has a powerful object called the omni cube and is using it to destory planets. His next target: Planet Bomber. He begins wreaking havoc on the planet! Bomberman must do something! In flies a guy named Sirius, who wants to help you because he has a bone to pick with Altair, he says. The first four worlds are chained to the black fortress as anchors; once all the anchors are destroyed, the force field will be dropped so Bomberman can go in and defeat Altair. 

Now you can choose which world to play first. While this is nice, it's obvious that Green Garden is the first world since it's the easiest and Sirius is standing there to tell you how to throw bombs and stuff like that. Sirius acts as your guide and helper throughout the game, telling you about Altair, giving you hints, explaining the controls, and even giving you special bombs for the boss fights. 

screenshot 1

Being the first 3D Bomberman game, the level design is good and simple. Nothing ground-breaking. Then again, perhaps at the time, it was ground-breaking to a certain extent. The controls are simple: press A to lay a bomb, press it again to kick the bomb, hold B and press A to pick up a bomb, press B again to throw the bomb. While holding a bomb, pressing A repeatedly will make the bomb bigger and bigger until it reaches full size, which can cause a huge explosion. The C buttons are used to change the camera angle, which is very helpful (you'll be doing this a lot). Be careful, if Bomberman gets caught in a bomb blast, he's toast. In some stages you may find a power-up called "remote bombs," which you can lay and explode at any time by pressing the Z button. These bombs are essential for certain parts of the game (such as the bosses). 

The programmers seemed to enjoy designing tall scenery; plenty of hills, ladders, stairs, elevators, stuff like that, which can easily obstruct your view. This can be remedied by changing the camera angle, but there are times when something is in your view at any angle! This is rare, yet frustrating nonetheless. The puzzles in the levels are not too difficult; bomb the switch, step on the spot, use a big bomb to blow down a bridge, stuff like that. Sadly, Bomberman cannot jump. I know it's supposed to make the game more challenging, but it's really sad when there's a small gap that prevents our hero from getting to the goal. 

screenshot 2

Altair has three henchmen, which you'll fight as mini-bosses in stage 2 of the worlds. They're really easy. One of the stand-outs of this game is the bosses (stage 4). They are really cool! A fire-breathing dragon, a fish with a mace on its head, a giant icy spider, and a big robot that moves in lava. . . yeah, pretty sweet bosses. Before the battle begins, Sirius flies by and gives you remote bombs. The spider is by far the most difficult. You have to use big bombs to throw at his face, but sometimes the bomb bounces off his pointy abdomen and blows up right on you!  These boss battles were challenging, yet satisfying. 

The Black Fortress starts you running across. . . a highway? Watch out for cars and buses, these guys don't stop for nobody. Stage 3 of Black Fortress is a really cool high-tech tower which you must climb using switches. Finally, you fight Altair (twice, of course). After defeating him, Sirius takes you back and what a bummer, Altair gets away! Then the credits roll. 

screenshot 3

But wait, the game is not over. Each stage has 5 golden cards to collect. If you collect all 100 golden cards, a new world opens up: Rainbow Palace. A whole new world? Awesome! Well. . . maybe not. Rainbow Palace is insane! Remember how Bomberman can't jump? You will wish he could. Instead, you will have to bounce bombs all over the place, getting them in just the right spot, then bouncing on them to reach switches and whatnot. This is crazy! But the ending is worth it. 

SPOILER ALERT! So if Altair is not behind this, who is? You find out that Sirius, your good buddy, is the villain after all. He is the Rainbow Emporer, owner of the omni cube. After Altair stole his cube of power, he decided to use Bomberman to defeat Altair so he could get his cube back. Now he wants to destroy Bomber Planet and take over the universe! What a plot twist! Now you have to fight the guy you trusted throughout the whole game! Props to Hudson for having something very unexpected at the end of the game. 

screenshot 4

The music is also great in Bomberman 64. It's that catchy, beat-eccentric style that gets stuck in your head, I love it! The credits music is especially catchy, although you'll hear it loop 50 times before the credits end. Check below for some of my favorite themes from the game. 

And let's not forget the multiplayer. Bomberman games have always had great multiplayer modes. This one is no exception. You can play with three computers or with friends; you can also choose to play every man for himself, or have teams. Then you choose a location, and there are many to choose from (my favorite is the pyramid). So now you have four bombermen running around laying bombs; once you die, you can come back as a ghost and bother the players who are still alive. When the time limit is almost up, something happens in the stage to speed up death on the remaining players. In the pyramid level, water begins to rise so you have to get to higher ground. In another level the walls slowly close in. This makes the matches very hectic and fun. You'll waste hours before you realize it. Bomberman 64 doesn't disappoint in this department. 

screenshot 5

Final Verdict--4 Stars: Recommended

Hudson's foray into the world of 3D gaming was a great success. Wow! This game was amazing at the time, but I can say it holds up very well. The story is typical until the end, when a twist happens that no one saw coming. The multiplayer is fantastic. It's one of the best games for the 64. Perhaps I could say that this game "blew me away." 

Next week I'm going to review Bomberman 64: The Second Attack, the direct sequel to this game. Is it a superior game, or just a cheap sequel? Be sure to check back next Saturday to find out. Until then, keep it retro. 



Super Step Contributing Writer

08/31/2013 at 04:34 PM

Well, geez, spoilers. Just kidding, I'm not actually mad. Was there a more action-oriented game involving Bomberman on N64? I seem to remember one. 

Good review though, make me want to go back and play it if I were better at these types of games.

The Last Ninja

08/31/2013 at 05:13 PM

Yes, Bomberman Hero is an action-oriented game where Bomberman can jump. I've never played that game actually, but I would love to. Thanks for reading, Joe. Bomberman 64 is not too hard of a game until the Rainbow Palace, then you'll want to jump off a cliff. 


09/01/2013 at 10:26 PM

Bomberman 64. Man, such good times. I'm surprised Hudson was able to pull off such a good game in 3D right off the bat but I'm glad they did. Probably worked so well because they kept things simple. That definitely worked in their favor. Judging from those pictures, looks like the graphics hold up surprising well too. I never did beat The Second Attack (that game was hard!) but I played every bit of Bomberman 64.

The Last Ninja

09/01/2013 at 10:30 PM

Graphics hold up quite well. It was a good game, not too hard til the end. I'm tackling Second Attack this week, and I know it's a hard game, so we'll see how that goes. 

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