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DS  header logo

Bomberman Story

For: DS

The never-ending fuse

Product: Bomberman Story DS | Developer: Hudson Soft | Publisher: Rising Star Games Limited | Format: DS | Genre: Action, Arcade | Players: 1-8 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: Europe
Bomberman Story DS DS, thumbnail 1
When Bomberman first appeared in 1983, most of us at Pocket Gamer were still young enough to believe that holding a stick of dynamite when it exploded would only singe our eyebrows and chip our teeth. There would be loss of face, of course, but we took that in its figurative rather than literal sense. Bugs Bunny was never the best teacher.

We've grown up now, and video game icon Bomberman is doing the same. Like a child who's been shooed away from his maze of upturned furniture and told to get some fresh air, the resurgently popular character has been removed from the frantic single-screen dungeons that made his name and put to work in a large, pastel-hued, and more or less authentic RPG world.

Although the evolution was necessary, it's always a risky business removing a character from its natural habitat and letting it loose in alien territory. For that reason, alongside this game's more prominent Story mode sits a Battle mode that follows the blueprint of the original.

It's worth taking a proper look at Battle mode because, far from being the afterthought you might expect, it constitutes a pretty good game in itself. It's model of multiplayer refinement, with a branching multitude of tweakable parameters far too copious to even think about listing.

You have the choice of up to seven opponents, either AI or human, and however many people you go up against you only need one copy of the game. It's as pure and comprehensive a multiplayer mode as die-hard Bomberman fans could ask for, and a truly generous showing from a supporting act.

It's the surprise debut of the single-player RPG that we've turned up to see, however, and while the colourful butterfly of Story doesn't exactly put the caterpillar of Battle in the shade, it's still a fairly solid first flight from the safety of Bomberman's indestructible cocoon.

Set in a fictional inner space, the plot concerns the theft by evil super-villains of sensitive research data from the offices of the Justice Department, a charitable peace-keeping force. Two leading Justice Department figures, Wolfemann and Dr Ein, set up a crack team to investigate the crime, and you – in the guise of series regular Cheerful White – are the crackest.

Your journey to the heart of the crime takes you to five planets, all of which come in the standard top-down RPG format, which is to say you kill a great number of tedious grazing monsters, enhance your character by finding power-ups, receive directions from various NPCs, and finally kill a big baddie in the middle of a dungeon.

As with Combat mode, the depth and detail in Story are surprising, and it's clear that Hudson Soft is determined to make a proper go of it. Levelling up palpably empowers you, shops permit you both to buy and sell commodities, and somewhere in the extensive three-page menu you can set both the throwing range and the length of the fuses on the various types of bomb you have at your disposal.

Perhaps most impressively of all, your conversations with NPCs actually impinge upon one another. In one instance, a querulous butler asks you the whereabouts of a workshy maid, and your choice of answer affects future dealings with her, the impact of which differs depending on what else you've done in the level.

In general, though, interactions with in-game characters are more prosaic. To take a single example of the kind of task you have to complete, on the planet Zex Marine a sprite won't let you go down a certain path until you've obtained something called a 'pestibomb'.

Some probing leads you to a girl who'll give you a pestibomb on the condition that you kill three monsters. Once you've done this, she sends you back out to kill five, then ten.

This kind of mindless schlepping back and forth is common, and in some cases it's necessary to speak to an NPC repeatedly to obtain the information you need, the point of which mechanic we're at a loss to understand.

Nevertheless, the game flows well, and the tasks rarely hold you up for too long or let you breeze by without a fight. Although some of the cut-scenes are absolutely interminable, the NPC dialogue does a good job of meting out plot details and establishing a sense of place, and Bomberman Story's five worlds are well-realised both in narrative terms and in the clean, unobtrusively beautiful graphics that depict them.

It's impossible to criticise Bomberman Story too heavily. The multiplayer mode alone comes close to justifying the price, and the single-player option, though lacklustre in places, is a bold and almost successful expedition into uncharted waters. Figuratively speaking, it won't blow anyone away, but it might just singe some eyebrows.
Bomberman Story
Reviewer photo
Rob Hearn | 29 November 2007
Although the novel RPG Story element is less refined than it could be, with over-long cut-scenes and some tedious schlepping, Bomberman Story is a worthwhile RPG and, more importantly, a terrific multiplayer experience
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