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What is Bomberman?
Although not as iconic as long-serving computer game characters, e.g. Mario and the such, Bomberman has became one of the most famous video game series since being first released in 1983. Whilst most video games have gone through an evolution with their characters, Bomberman has remained fairly true to what it has always been since being developed by Hudson Soft. This is due to the main attraction of the series being its multi-player aspect, which is one of the most crazed experiences you are ever likely to have with a console remote in your hand, although still remaining a strategic battle of whits.
Now featuring in over 60 different video games, Bomberman is one of the most recognisable characters and has appeared on all of the major consoles -- this is rather than staying exclusive to one particular brand. Whilst the animation is slightly childish, and there have been attempts to bring the brand to a more adult audience, if you enjoyed the gameplay as a youngster you are still likely to appreciate it when you arrive in your 20's and older. By collecting items and planting bombs in a very simple designed maze, your task is to stay alive whilst these items make things more difficult for you as they effect the abilities of your character and the strength of the bombs. These short rounds of Bomberman-terror take place from your birdseye perspective.
There has also been story modes to the Bomberman series, although this has never been what the franchise is famous for, nor has there ever been any repeated everystory to the games. The original premise for the game was that growing bored of living in the Bomberman Universe, and working in an underground bomb factory, one Bomberman one day decides to break free...
What is Wii Ware?
If you are a big Wii-head you are likely to have came across Wii Ware since it was introduced to the European market in June 2008. Similar to how you are able to download retro-games through the online Nintendo service for fairly low value, you are now able to download brand new video games through the service. The only difference with these games are that they are shorter and have been produced on a smaller budget -- although this service is allowing production of video games that people have always dreamt about making, as with Wii Ware there is less risk than when you are asking for big bucks to promote your brand new video games and ship it to shops.
This innovation was introduced to battle the competitors that already have similar services, e.g. Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Shop. Nintendo believe that the unique motion sensing controls offered on the Wii allow for a completely different type of video game to be on their service compared to Microsoft and Sony's. You are even able to view an instruction manual for your brand new game through the Wii Shop Channel.
Bomberman Blast (Wii Ware)
With you now being fully in the know when it comes to the Bomberman series and the relatively new, Wii Ware service, it's time to review what was my first experience of using Wii Ware. Having saved up plenty of Wii Points (the currency used on the service), I thought it was time to splash this cash and Bomberman seemed like a very worthy cause to spend these points on. However, I was a bit wary about picking Bomberman Blast from the fairly small selection after hearing that a fully fledged version of the game shall be hitting retail in late 2008. Whilst the downloadable version of the game only features traditional Bomberman battles, when the game is released on disc it shall include a brand new story mode to challenge players.
Rather than just featuring the one mode where you attempt to blow one another up, Bomberman Blast includes a variety of modes to try and mix the experience up. Before selecting what mode you wish to play, you are asked the questions such as how many computer players you would like in your battle and what difficulty setting you wish them to be at. After a while, you are also able to play as your Mii which is a nice addition crafted especially for the Nintendo Wii. You are also able to select how many rounds you wish to play, how longs these rounds last, set handi-caps, amongst many more customisable options.
Whilst traditional mode sees you attempting to leave bombs in the right places for your opponents to get taken out, you can also take on this mode as part of a team. Interestingly my partner usually seems to enjoy blowing me up more than anyone else, although in revenge mode you are able to play as a ghost around the outside of the map and throw bombs. If your bombs happen to cause the 'death' of another person, your Bomberman shall be brought back to life. If there is only thirty-seconds left to a battle, the game will find a way of bringing the battle to an end before the time is up, by dropping blocks from the sky until everyone is flattened.
'King' mode sees you chasing one another around for a crown, and whoever has the crown when the clock runs out is the winner. I find myself dropping as many bombs as I can, where I can in this mode, because you cannot actually die but just get dazed. 'Air Raid' mode sees bombs dropped from the sky, and you have to think carefully of where the bomb explosions are going to catch you, then position yourself in place to dodge those explosions. The final mode is a questionable one that sees a stopclock appear above you when you are hit by the bomb and you then need to pass this stopclock on to an opponent before the time runs out or lose.
Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection
Nintendo introduced me to the wonderful world of wi-fi, because although there online service is not the most competitive when you see the likes of Xbox Live, when you are playing online free of charge I think that is exactly the audience I fall into. I'm happy to play a good game online if I don't have any friends around to play with, but it's not something I would want to pay money for. More and more titles are taking advantage of the free Nintendo service since it was introduced on the Nintendo DS a few years ago. Now, I think publishers are thinking that if someones going to go online to download a Wii Ware game, they are also going to want to play said game online.
Bomberman Blast takes you online to play against up to 8 competitors depending on how many are available to play. I am yet to play against the maximum amount, and it usually takes quite a while to find enough competitors to play against, although it is a fairly enjoyable experience whilst it lasts. Rather than let you be bored whilst you wait to find real people to play against online, the waits in between are filled with a game of 'Dodge Bomb', which is similar to the 'Air Raid' mode on the one-player game. Only the game keeps count of how many bombs you successfully avoid, and is added to one of the many stats that the game saves to itself. You even have an ability level that shows up online so you can see just how good the opponents you are playing against are, although having won my very first game online I feel it's a lot of luck.
Bomberman is straight out of Japan, and it really shows. The gameplay is as frantic as their streets look on the television, but with added bombs. Having paid 1,000 Wii Points for the game, it is one of the more expensive as it carries the big franchise name. Things can get confusing, and it can feel as though it's over before its even started -- especially when you blow yourself up. Overall though, as a mini-game it is a lot of fun. I would be interested in seeing what the story mode is like in the full-version of the game, it repeated features 39 stages across 5 different worlds where you attempt to save kidnapped Mii's.
I feel the title has generated a lot of excitement for the Wii Ware service with me, and makes me look forward to the next time I use the service again. Having a game appear in the many windows when you first turn on the Wii also makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. The game controls by turning the Wiimote on the side, and the nunchuck is not required. If you're looking for a game where you punch, kick and run away from bombs -- look no further.
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