Is that a Bomberman in your pocket or do you just have gas?
When I was 16, I worked at a used video game store and every single week I would end up giving my entire paycheck back to my employer in exchange for games that I bought with my employee discount. It was awesome for building up my video game collection but TERRIBLE for my wallet! One of the games I remember putting in my employee drawer early on was Pocket Bomberman.
At the time, I was vaguely familiar with the Bomberman series and had probably only played Bomberman on NES, one of the ones on SNES and maybe Bomberman World on PS1, but I was familiar with the general theme of the game – walk around and blow stuff up with your bombs! I don’t think I ever got through this game as a kid but playing it again recently, I had flashbacks of the permanent toilet ring I suffered on my backside after playing this game on the John for excessive amounts of time.
Bomberman himself has gone through some interesting changes over the years and prior to playing Pocket Bomberman, I remember playing the Indiana Jones-themed Bomberman GB and yet again, Bomberman’s appearance has been changed to that of a knight with a cape…for some reason. I suppose that reason has to do with the silly plot which involves a bad guy sealing the “Sword of the Sun”, which results in the sun being blocked out by a thick cloud that shrouds the land in darkness. It’s up to King Arthu… I mean Bomberman, to collect the 5 “Power Stones” and break the seal to shed light on the world once more…I think.
I’ve always liked the standard Bomberman gameplay since I played it on the NES but Pocket Bomberman is very different from many other games in the series in that it adds platforming to the standard formula. I wouldn’t say that Bomberman has gotten stale over the 60-something releases over the years but it was refreshing to play a Bomberman game with a new twist for sure. I thought I’d fall victim to my own bombs less frequently now that I was able to run and jump around but alas, that hasn’t changed a bit!
Despite me being my own worst enemy in this game, I think that Bomberman works really well as a platformer and the controls work well despite taking Bomberman “off the grid”. Trapping some of the enemies with your bombs can be pretty difficult and possibly harder than the traditional Bomberman games because of how much room there is to move around on the screen for both you and the baddies.
The enemies are a bit different from the ones seen in prior games in the series and some of them are very fast and move all around the screen wildly, which makes it difficult to dodge and attack them. The best example of this comes from the boss fights where they hurl projectiles at you that can be very hard to dodge. That being said, the bosses are a really cool addition and are pretty friggin’ challenging! I must’ve fought the final battle over 50 times and it took me about an hour to beat the last boss!
The controls work really well and even though I got frustrated at times, I always knew it was my fault and not the fault of the game or the controls. The graphics are good and the mild use of color often found on the GBA was a nice touch but Bomberman hasn’t ever been a really flashy game so, it looks good for what it is. The music is really good throughout and the stereo GBA sound sounded good on my surround sound speakers. There are 5 worlds – Forest, Ocean, Wind, Cloud and oddly enough, EVIL (almost had a Captain Planet thing going on there until that last one). With 5 levels in each world, it makes for a fairly short 25 level game, which is probably ideal for a Game Boy game I suppose.
I was surprised to find out that this was one of the launch titles for the GBA and was released twice in Europe – once in B&W and once in color. I was also curious about the title, “Pocket Bomberman” and thought that it must’ve had something to do with the Game Boy Pocket, which it may have in the original B&W version, but maybe it just means that it’s a Bomberman game on the go? Who knows, I only played it when I HAD to go, rather than when I was ON the go.
I always look up games on howlongtobeat.com before I play a game and I was encouraged to see that it took about 2 hours to beat but that must be for a much more skilled gamer than myself because it took me about 5 hours to beat. That’s taking into account the number of times I died, the hour it took me to defeat the last boss after learning his moves and patterns and taking some time to try out the Jump mode. Jump mode is pretty cool and might be the precursor to those auto-jumping games like Doodle Jump or whatever for mobile games. It’s fun for a few minutes because I didn’t get very far before dying and it makes you start over after every death!
In conclusion, it’s a Bomberman game, it’s a platformer, it’s a Bomberman platformer…a Blatformer? Platbomber? Whatever. I actually think it’s a pretty interesting style for Bomberman that I’d like to see them do something with again in the future because Bomberman has been re-released in the usual format about a billion times and while it should probably be old hat by now, I’ll still always buy them because I love me some Bomberman and it’s such a fun game to play with friends! If you like Bomberman but want to try something different, pick this up and PUT IT in your pocket!
Side note: I was really excited to see that they released a Goemon skin for Super Bomberman R on the Nintendo Switch! Maybe Konami hasn’t forgotten about the blue haired Robin HOOD after all!?
Eric Lappe puts on a show on Youtube called Let’s Get where he hilariously reviews video games. He also has a podcast by the same name and has appeared on the Video Game Years. Check him out!