been wondering lately, what appeal does the videogame hold for me?
I'm not a kid anymore, and I haven't been a teenager for a long
time. I've gone to college, traveled, become educated, dated a few
beautiful women, learned some things. In short, I've grown up; and
yet, here I am, still playing games. What's the appeal?
me, what continues to make it all fun is the social interaction.
With the few exceptions of the masters, the best videogames are
the multiplayer ones. There is a certain competitive vibe in the
air, as friends become blood enemies then become friends again in
the same evening. The best multiplayer games offer that unique blend
of matching cunning, skill, and quick reflexes. I don't know, maybe
we're fighting to keep our youth.
Bomberman 2 is probably the best multiplayer game ever made.
At its best, it is as fierce and emotional as anything before or
since. The game is the creation of Hudson Soft, a development studio
from Japan who is best known for its long-running series of Bomberman
of the conventions of any Bomberman game is that the single-player
mode should be extremely boring. There's really not much game for
one person. Taking control of the title character, you set bombs
in a series of mazes, destroying blocks and barriers, grabbing power-ups,
and evading or destroying enemies. It usually plays like a sedate
puzzle game, and is usually explored for only a few minutes before
Battle Mode is where the real fun is. Even in the post 9/11 world,
there is a simple, vicarious thrill in watching four cartoon characters
blow each other up with bombs. The basic maze, a standard of every
Bomberman game, is a large square field, evenly broken
up with blocks that can be destroyed. Each player begins with his
or her Bomberman on each corner, and proceeds to blast away at pathways
to reach at the others. Last one standing is the winner. Simple
maybe that is the Bomberman appeal: its utter simplicity,
harkening back to those golden days of the early '80s. Videogames
were simple then; today, you often need to read a small textbook
to understand what you're doing. What fun is that? I want to be
able to beat up on my friends while diving for the chips and beer.
you will beat up on each other, I guarantee it. Super Bomberman
2 is the cream of a select crop of multiplayer games (Chu
Chu Rocket!, MULE, Mario Kart)
so fiercely competitive as to start real fights. You don't merely
beat your opponents; you screw them into the ground.
makes this version of Bomberman the definitive version?
I believe this game managed to achieve that perfect balance, that
Zen quality where every element falls into place. Each of the game's
power-up items - the glove (to throw bombs), the boot (to kick bombs),
the skate (faster speed), the skull (curse item) - is perfectly
balanced. Having one power-up never guarantees easy victory.
game's variety of boards is also just shy of perfection. Previous
installments in the series started to experiment with different
level design; SB2 has the payoffs. In addition to the basic
maze, there are nine other battlefields which offer a terrific amount
of variety. One board is covered, almost completely, by mushrooms.
Another level takes place on ice and features warp tunnels. One
level features a conveyor belt; another offers a trench which can
be detonated from afar.
personal favorite is a Pac-Man-style maze with warp tunnels;
the catch with this board is that players cannot pass through each
other. You can imagine what usually happens: you drop a couple bombs,
and then try to shove the other players into the explosions. Do
this a few times, and chances are there will be some punches thrown
in between the laughs. Great fun.
Bomberman games would needlessly tinker with the formula,
either by changing the power-ups, offering mediocre boards, or altering
the game's speed. The worst offense, however, are the animals, which
your Bomberman would ride, giving you essentially an extra hit.
Where's the fun of trapping someone in a corner then? Those stupid
animals are a staple of every game in the series after Super
Bomberman 2; quite frankly, they suck.
have still been good games in the series (Saturn Bomberman
is quite excellent, actually), but I fear the formula was already
perfected, and Hudson was never one to figure that out. It's like
watching a favorite aging rock band play. The new songs are fine,
but we really came to hear the old classics. Sometimes timeless
nostalgia is a thrill in itself.