STAFF REVIEW of Bombing Busters (Xbox One)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016.
by Adam Dileva

Bombing Busters Box art Some of my fondest memories in gaming are those of when I was playing Bomberman with a group of 3 or 4 friends on the SNES with a multitap, a peripheral that allowed up to 5 players to play simultaneously on supported games. Back in those days, getting more than 2 players in a game was something special, as it required a separate hardware purchase for the small handful of games that actually supported it. We may take it for granted these days, but getting together in the same room with a group of friends to play game on the same screen made for some great gaming memories that I’m glad I remember.

So, why the Bomberman reference? Well, Bombing Busters for the Xbox One is clearly inspired by that classic multiplayer game, and I’d even go as far to say it’s a straight up clone. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so developers Sanuk Games must have absolutely adored Bomberman, because that’s essentially the same experience you’re getting here, and not that that’s a bad thing, and it even tries adding a few new features to make it stand out. But does it escape the shadow of one of the classics?

You play as a simple robot, created by Dr. Wallow for one reason: To use your bomb capabilities to destroy alien worlds and take over the galaxy. It sounds more nefarious than it really is, but I guess when you look at it, you are blowing up any lifeforms you come across. Thankfully, Dr. Wallow has a sense of humor, as does Bombing Busters as a whole, and you’ll hear a lot of one liners throughout, some of which are quite comical.

If you’ve never played Bomberman before, shame on you, it’s a classic. The general gameplay revolves around placing bombs through a grid-like map. Some barriers can be blown up while others can’t. You’re allotted 5 minutes per stage to clear out all of the enemies, and blowing up the blockages will net you a multitude of different power-ups to make your bomb-focused life much easier.

The most common power-ups will increase your bomb length, the amount of bombs you can place at once, and speed increases. You’ll randomly find other power-ups that allow you to kick bombs, throw them, set them off remotely whenever you desire, and even walk through them as if they don’t exist. I know, you’ve played Bomberman before and this all sounds familiar, and it is, but what starts to set Bombing Busters apart is the enemies and sheer difficulty compared to the classic.

Maybe it’s been too long since I’ve played this type of game, but Bombing Busters has quite a spike in difficulty even during the first handful of stages. Starting enemies are dumb and slow, but they will eventually do everything they can to avoid your bombs, even knowing to hide around the pillars that can’t be destroyed. This forces you to search for some power-ups and think of some other strategies given that you only have 5 minutes per level. Eventually enemies will try to hunt you down and even spit projectiles at you.

There are 5 worlds and each one consists of 5 stages, with a big boss to battle at the end of each world. These bosses are no joke, and even the first boss took me easily a hundred or so tries to defeat. You’re given a specific set of power-ups and their attacks change during the battles. The bosses vary and they become more and more challenging as you get to their respective worlds. Just be ready to die multiple times when attempting them, but luckily you’re able to skip ahead to the next world if the bosses are simply too much for you at the time.

As for how it looks, Bombing Busters essentially an updated Bomberman. The artwork is clean and each world has its own theme to it, sadly the level layouts are all the same rectangular grids though with no variety aside from the enemies on the screen. On one world you’ll blow up icicles, and then the next world will be bushes or rocks, that’s really the only variety aside from the backdrops. As for the audio, there’s a generic tune that simply repeats, so turn on your own music and enjoy some bomb busting to your favorite tunes instead.

Two things I really enjoyed was that every time you die and have to restart the level the layout of where the blocks and enemies are changes, so there’s no memorizing specific levels as it’s always different. Oddly enough, I also really enjoyed the tips that are displayed during the loading screens, as they are usually witty and hilarious. For example, here’s my favorite one: "Pro Tip: Read the Pro Tips." Small touches like this give Bombing Busters a little heart and make it feel like not so much of a clone.

What would a game like this be without multiplayer, and like I said earlier, I’ve made some great memories with friends in the past, gathering together around a single screen, but times have changed. Online multiplayer is more prevalent and is really the only way I manage to game with my friends anymore, so I was saddened to see that only local multiplayer was included. Granted, if you have the capabilities (and friend count) to support a gaming night at your house, Bombing Busters is a fun way to host some 4 player mayhem, and no multitap purchase is needed anymore.

If you grew up with Bomberman, and love the gameplay, Bombing Busters is an easy sell, especially for its cheap asking price and interesting gameplay elements such as the very challenging boss levels and a sense of humor. While it may be a very heavily inspired title, that doesn’t take away from its fun and frantic gameplay, even if the difficulty is much higher than I expected and many may see it as only a substitute for the classic it draws inspiration from.

Overall: 6.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 5.0 / 10
Sound: 3.0 / 10


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