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ups: Strategy-oriented puzzle solving mixed with adventure; cute characters and bright, colorful graphics; classic franchise goes 3D and cel-shaded; Battle Mode adds lots of replay value.
downs: Not much of a story; short single-player mode.

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Bomberman Generation Review
game: Bomberman Generation
four star
posted by: Matt Baldwin
publisher: Majesco
date posted: 09:10 AM Fri Jun 28th, 2002
last revision: 01:10 PM Sat Oct 29th, 2005

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Bomberman Generation joins recent titles like Jet Set Radio and Cel Damage in the increasingly popular aesthetic of cel-shaded games, where the overall effect gives the player a sense of cartoon interactivity. For some reason, I dig this graphic style, and, with Bomberman, Majesco and Hudson succeed with a strong release on the Gamecube. Granted, the graphics could have been a little prettier, and a higher polygon count would have been nice, but, hey, who\'s complaining: the game remains one of the best titles, thus far, on the GC. The colors are rich, vibrant, and the enemies are playful in design, my favorites being the desert worms on the third level.

One drawback to Bomberman Generation is that its storyline is rather loose, not really involving too much dialogue, just the constant nudging and reminding that you\'re after a set of Bomb Elements and that you must acquire them before the Hige Hige Bandits do. Not only does each level have its end boss, but you also have a major battle midway through, which will require, as you progress further, more tactical skill than just randomly dropping bombs and letting them explode where they may.

The first complaint I have is that Generations remains somewhat short, with only five levels and around six stages on each, but where it lacks in length it\'ll make up in replay value as well as difficulty. After the first stage, serving as a good introduction, you begin to feel the classic Bomberman in this latest title-that sense of wanting to rush, but knowing if you do you\'ll end up only killing yourself. And, as always, Charaboms and mini-games are a part of your life. Charaboms are Pokemon-like creatures you\'ll find scattered throughout the game, and, depending on which one you have equipped, you\'ll be able to perform a variety of skills, from performing bomb jumps to detonating your bombs on command (one of the more useful traits, in my opinion). To get more Charaboms, you\'ll need to pit the one you start off with against others you encounter on your quest. If you win, you get the opposing Charabom. After awhile, you\'ll be able to merge your Charaboms together to create new ones, which will grant you combined and enhanced powers.

Another integral part to getting ahead in Bomberman Generation is to perform bomb merges, which occur almost one per level. This isn\'t something to be taken lightly, as I found. Once you\'ve made your way onto the fourth and fifth levels, you\'ll quickly realize that all bombs, wind, ice, water, light, etc., are needed to get you through the labyrinthine bases of your enemies, who have taken control of the last few Bomb Elements. To acquire the proper portions of the bombs, you\'ll need to complete the mini-games and then find the merge rooms.

I admit that I didn\'t really try out the Battle Mode until I became frustrated midway through the game, but it was a welcome relief to my puzzle-riddled mind; Battle Mode allows you to play a heated Bomberman game against either the computer or a group of friends. Not only that, but there are a variety of sub-modes, so to speak, from which you can choose, including games of revenge, dodge, or your straight forward standard battle, each having its own, central theme.

For those wondering, a Standard battle starts you out in one corner of a puzzle. Once the timer starts, you must begin blowing your way out of the corner without taking yourself out. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. At the same time there are three opponents doing exactly what you\'re doing, collecting power-ups, all the while looking to find a way to take you out of the game. In Coin battle you blast away and collect as many coins as possible before the time is up. To say the least, Bomberman Generation\'s Battle Mode takes some practice, but once you\'ve gotten the hang of it the game becomes increasingly addictive. This portion of the game remains the most re-playable.

Now, the question left on your mind would be, \"Since there\'s a multiplayer game, can I go online?\" Unfortunately, there\'s no broadband or modem adapter for the Gamecube just yet, so the answer is no; however, it\'s an obvious route Hudson could take with this classic. I can\'t wait until I see Bomberman Online-I hope it\'s in the works.

Perhaps the success of the game, and the series as a whole, is due in part to its almost classic feel. There is a definite sense of an underlying template at work; Bomberman Generation is by no means a genre buster. It stays within its boundaries and continues a strong tradition, one which began back on the NES. Now, the game has progressed into, what I would call, more adventure-puzzle oriented than straight forward \"figure out how to blast your way from one side of the room to the other\". Hudson has taken it to a 3D level, but at times it feels like some of the old challenge is missing. And I know, in a previous paragraph I said it was challenging, but does anyone out there remember the old Bomberman games, the ones that drove you crazy? Luckily, the Battle Mode brings back this challenge, but it would have been nice to have seen it in the story-mode, which in itself could have been longer.

There isn\'t much to be said for the musical score, other than at times it sounds like, just a little, that the song is about to break into a cool Gorillaz tune-if only it would. Most of the time, I found myself turning down the music and turning up my own, so as to avoid the, at times, grating melodies.

At the end of the day, Bomberman Generation remains one of my favorite games thus far on the Gamecube. If you\'re familiar with the series, then this would be another nice addition to the library, but if you\'re brand new, then I\'d suggest renting the game first just to make sure you\'re into the whole puzzle-bomb bit. I see a lot of potential for this series to revitalize itself by going online in the future (although that\'s purely speculation on my part), and I plan to be all practiced up if it ever does. Imagine, multi-level puzzles where you could either play against others or in a team mode to solve even more complex challenges. That would be cool, but for now Bomberman Generation and its co-releases on the GBA will have to sate my eager tastes.

Matt Baldwin (06/28/2002)