A short fuse, but a satisfying blast
It's a common saying and sentiment that you don't know what you've got until it's gone. That's no truer than with Hudson Soft and its Bomberman franchise. Many of us certainly took for granted the series and how it might not always be there for us to enjoy. I mean, the series saw regular releases on a variety of platforms, often with more than one game on a given console or handheld. Now, Konami owns Bomberman, and the publisher has not done much to bring the White Bomber back into the gaming sphere. Thus, the only recourse is to play past Bomberman games, and that's exactly why I took my Game Boy Advance out of storage and played the very first Bomberman game to hit the system, Bomberman Tournament. Not just offering the traditional bomb-and-get-blasted multiplayer mayhem the series is well known for, but also a single player quest mode, Bomberman Tournament delivers explosive action in portable form.
The main attraction to Bomberman games is the multiplayer mode, and it is present and accounted for in Bomberman Tournament. If you possess a series of link cables, you can link up to four Game Boy Advances together to play Bomberman Tournament's bounty of multiplayer goodness. With eight arenas to choose from, you can bomb one another in an arena infested with killer landmines, an arena set on the moon containing portals that warp players across the map, or take one another out in a standard arena with no frills. You can play with just one cartridge between all players, but it's recommended that everyone involved in your bombing bonanza has a cartridge because of the otherwise nasty load times.
|This moon map is full of portals to warp players around its reaches.|
Of course, if you lack multiple friends who own Game Boy Advances and link cables, you can always play Battle Mode with computer opponents, selecting one of three difficulty levels for them. The choices don't end there with rounds either, offering the ability to choose how long each round is, if there is a tiebreak rule involved, whether bombed players can seek revenge on living ones, and much more.
If the Battle Mode doesn't appeal to you as a solo player, you can always try out the Quest Mode, a single player excursion lasting about a dozen hours or so. What you get is a nice combination of Legend of Zelda field, dungeon, and town exploration, as well as some Pokemon-inspired monster collecting and battling.
|Occasionally, Bomberman enjoys the country life.|
Quest Mode's real drawback is something that is mitigated after the first couple of hours. You see, at the beginning of the mode, you have but three hearts to work with and an unimpressive number of bombs and firepower. This makes dying very easy, and since there is no auto-save feature in Bomberman Tournament, if you aren't saving every couple of minutes, you can lose a lot of progress. This is because losing all your health results in a game over, forcing you to restart from the last point you saved at.
Furthermore, enemies move around a lot. When you have just one bomb you can place on the map at a given time with such a low blast radius, it can be hard to take them out quickly. In fact, it can be maddening trying to defeat the simplest of foes at the beginning of the game.
|Taking care of weeds can be a menial job, but someone's got to do it.|
|The main event: Pommy versus Dorako!|
Let's get ready to RUMMMBBLLE!
Bomberman Tournament is a vibrant game with impressive character sprites and pleasant looking environments and objects. The amount of detail in the sprites is quite good, delivering a nice game to the eyes. The music is generally bright and cheery when you'd expect it to be, and suitably foreboding for boss fights and dungeons. What you have with Bomberman Tournament is a pleasing presentation package that does the Game Boy Advance hardware well.
|Bomberman Tournament is a pleasure to look at as it's easy on the eyes.|
[SPC Says: B-]