Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Bomberman Jetters (GCN, PS2) Retro Review

It seems like it's been ages since we've had a retro review on SuperPhillip Central. With a slower release schedule of games--for obvious reasons--it seems like a good time as any to look back and dig into some older games! We'll do just that with this Majesco gem, Bomberman Jetters. Here's the SuperPhillip Central review!

Bomberman Jetters vs. Bomberman Generation: A study in con-blast... er... contrast.

It was three years ago that I originally brought you a review of Bomberman Generation, the first of two Bomberman games to blast its way onto the Nintendo GameCube. Now, several years older but perhaps not any bit wiser, I have returned with the second GameCube entry, Bomberman Jetters, based off an anime of the same name. This gives me some understanding as to why I had no idea who a good portion of the characters in White Bomber's corner actually were!

Regardless, Bomberman Jetters opens up a calamity in the making--the HIGE HIGE Bandits are back to their nasty tricks, but this one is on a much more explosive and dangerous level. They've armed a giant bomb and launched it towards Planet Bomber! As White Bomber, your objective is to shut off all four engines of the bomb before it can detonate and destroy its intended target.

Right away when you start Bomberman Jetters and get into the game itself, you'll notice an obnoxious amount of starting and stopping in the form of gameplay interruptions. Every new level gimmick, whether obvious to figure out or not, results in one of White Bomber's allies radioing in to stop the gameplay completely in its tracks. This wouldn't be so awful if it didn't occur as much as it does! Even in late game levels, the amount of interruptions made me beyond aggravated and just wanting my "allies" to just SHUT. UP.

In each world, the HIGE HIGE Bandits love to dress up in different costumes,
 and with each world and each new costume, they obtain new attacks.
When you're actually playing through Bomberman Jetters, it's not nearly as awful an experience. You move through 3D environments, planting bombs to defeat enemies and destroy obstacles, as well as solving simple puzzles along the way. White Bomber can also kick and/or throw bombs into enemies to daze them, making them sitting ducks (or sitting bandits, in many cases) in the process. Otherwise, it's more of a challenge to take down baddies as they're moving targets.

Levels themselves aren't as enjoyable to play around as Bomberman Generation. They're much more maze-like in structure and design, often leading to frustrating situations where getting lost and racking up level runs that take upwards of 20 minutes all but a guarantee. Part of this is due to a lack of a cohesive feel or design in levels, but another major part is due to the how zoomed in the camera is, even when it is at its farthest away. It's far too easy to have one's view obscured by level geometry and take cheap hits. Additionally, being forced to use the L and R shoulder buttons to spin the camera around takes getting used to as well, and trying to properly line the camera up so White Bomber can, in turn, line up his bomb kicks or throws is also more difficult than it should be.

Sharkun rips through these waves with ease.
The Pokemon-like Charabom creatures from Bomberman Generation make their return in Bomberman Jetters, though there are no Rock, Paper, Scissors-like mini-games to acquire them and add them to your roster of helpful characters. Instead, they appear in levels, ready to be snatched up, saved, and able to join White Bomber's heroic cause. When equipped, Charaboms bestow White Bomber with various effects. Some allow him to travel along water, some gift him with the ability to kick and throw bombs farther, while others provide various other offensive, defensive, and traversal capabilities.

Charabom Pommy Dragon can float off specific platforms to give
White Bomber access to new areas of levels.
White Bomber can stumble across numerous items along his journey to save his home planet. There are various fruits that are used to level up the aforementioned Charabom creatures, boosting their usefulness. There are also gold heart pieces that add health to White Bomber's supply of hearts, as well as numerous uniquely colored HIGE HIGE cards, which unlock new characters in the tried and true multiplayer portion of the game.

There are five major worlds in Bomberman Jetters, and they have 4-6 levels each, with two of the levels being boss encounters. The first pits White Bomber against a similarly bipedal elemental-themed Bomber in one-on-one confrontations, a true highlight, while the latter battles have White Bomber face larger foes. A final world opens up once players have acquired every Lightning Card in the game, two from each elemental Bomber battle.

What, not even a courteous "Look out below" for White Bomber?
Despite most of the boss battles being entertaining, between the constant interruptions to the gameplay, the obnoxious mazes that are the levels, and the annoying, impractical camera, Bomberman Jetters' story mode didn't give me the same level of enjoyment as its predecessor's. While I wouldn't call it a dud, I certainly wouldn't exactly call it a blast, either.

Apart from the relatively breezy and disappointing story mode, it wouldn't be a Bomberman game without an explosive multiplayer mode. Fortunately, Bomberman Jetters does not disappoint here. Featuring an abundance of unique modes, stages, and a nice array of options to boot, the multiplayer allows up to four players (human or AI) to take on one another and blast each other to smithereens. (Or, of course, if you're like me, find a way to blow yourself up.) The stages have some smart gimmicks to them, such as an arena set in a boxing ring where bombs and Bombers that run into the ropes will bounce back, causing some enjoyable insanity. Overall, Bomberman Jetters' multiplayer is a highlight of the game, and one that will last a long while--maybe even longer than the main story.

Bomberman Jetters doesn't make the case for itself a much-needed sequel to Bomberman Generation or make the case that the GameCube needed a second Bomberman game to begin with. By no means is it terrible, but a lackluster story mode really hurts the overall package despite Jetters having a rather entertaining multiplayer component. If you are still in possession of your Nintendo GameCube, have it still hooked up, in working order, and REALLY need a Bomberman game for it, take a look at Bomberman Generation instead.

[SPC Says: C]

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