Hold on to your blast cap kids, Bomberman is back! Bomberman Ultra is the third original title to hit the virtual arcades since the launch of Bomberman Live! on the Xbox Live Arcade, and it’s almost completely identical to the aforementioned title. Developed and Published by the age old Hudson Soft, it offers players an intense eight player online experience, a four player (and four CPUs) local living room showdown, tons of different modes, costumes, maps, and power-ups. Priced at a meager $9.99, it offers tons of gameplay without sacrificing the classic charm.
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Keeping with tradition, the game is extremely simple. You control your bomberman character while placing bombs to destroy soft blocks, defeat other players, collect power-ups…and paint tiles. There are multiple game modes and maps to choose from along with the choice to customize your character’s costume. Hudson has added 54 new characters into the game and you can collect all of their costume pieces and combine them into thousands of different outfits (you can even dress up as Mr. Destructoid). It doesn’t offer any bonuses to your bombing abilities, but the aesthetic value is appreciated.
The only way to unlock these costumes, unfortunately, is to collect the 55+ costume balls by playing local games. Sure, you can set up another controller and just collect one every match (the match must be over two minutes) but that gets boring really quick. On top of that, the game doesn’t tell you what outfit you just unlocked. The costume section will say “new” but you have to scroll through the list to find the one you nabbed. It’s a minor inconvenience but sometimes I would collect ten balls at a time and then go back and sift through my loot.
The new game modes and maps are perfect fits for Bomberman gameplay because they keep the rules simple. The normal mode is the standard free-for-all but other modes like Bomb Paint and Zombie have players using their bombs to pain tiles on the floor. The winner is the one with the most tiles at the end of the match, however, if you take a hit while playing these games modes, say good bye to the tiles you’ve claimed.
I was tentative at first but the added strategy brings depth without making it overbearing. There are other modes that are variations of normal with different sets of rules. Bombing run starts everyone out at full speed and Friendly Fire gives everyone a super bomb and the maximum bombs allowed, and nothing to hide behind. And if you really want to switch things up, each map has its own gimmick. You can add transporters, quicksand, cyclones..etc to their own respective maps, or even add them to other maps. There are a lot of choices here and it will keep new players and Bomberman fans busy.
If you don’t like a certain way a game is being played (too many skulls) you can alter the power-ups that appear on the field for most of the modes. When you are selecting a local game, or hosting online, you can set the parameters of each map. You can choose different settings (beginner, intermediate, advanced) and it alters the load outs of the power-ups. Don’t like skulls? You can get rid of them! Tired of power-ups going up in smoke? Make them fireproof! You can make any game the way you want it (besides choosing the power-ups yourself).
Speaking of power-ups, Bomberman Ultra uses the powers from the last two games. You have your standard fire up (bigger blast radius) and bomb up (more bombs at once), but there are also zany ones like remote control bombs (detonate with the O button) and dangerous bombs (the blast radius consists of squares instead of crosses). The 10+ different abilities generate chaos as each player is clambering to grab the full fire or that last speed up.
Even though Bomberman Ultra is essentially Bomberman Live! with all of the DLC, it finally allows PS3 owners an opportunity to join in on the explosive action. It offers tons of variability for local and multiplayer matches, trophy support (odd choices though), and the classic frantic action we all know and love. However, it doesn’t offer much more than that. So, if you don’t have the other versions and are looking for some old school fun, look no further.
The game looks and feels great with snazzy menus and updated graphics.
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The classic gameplay was kept intact and the added modes and maps bring depth without making it convoluted.
The bombs and other sound effects are great, but the music and the announcer on each map might replace water boarding.
There are so many things to do in the game to keep any Bomberman fan happy, and the focus on classic gameplay makes the game accessible to everyone.
Bomberman Ultra is worth your ten dollars. The updated retro gameplay will have you laughing with, or punching, your friends in no time.