Game Review: ‘Bomberman Battlefest’ for XBLA

Sometimes players say they want something completely different to turn a franchise on its head. That’s when they wind up with Bomberman: Act Zero. Other times, players just want an upgraded version of the same game like they get with yearly iterations to the Madden franchise. That’s when they get Bomberman Battlefest. Sadly there are times when the minimalist approach don’t give a strong enough reason for old players to come back.

Gameplay:

The basics of Bomberman and why it has always been fun have not changed. Players start at various locations on a grid map where they set bombs that launch fire in up, down, left and right of the bomb’s location. At first, players are only able to set one bomb at a time which only spreads one tile in each direction and once a bomb is placed it is stuck there. If the fire hits a player, they die. Simplistic as this concept is, it quickly gets turned on its head with the inclusion of any of the myriad of powerups that expand the distance a bomb explodes, increases the number of bombs a player can set or changes the effect of a specific bomb being placed.

New to Bomberman Battlefest are the Clusterbomb, the Trip Bomb, the Rocket Bomb and the Doubler. These powerups create a second set of bombs that explode in various directions, act as a trip mine, shoot a bomb across a level and allow players to drop multiple special bombs, respectively. These changes however don’t really differentiate the experience from previous titles. The unique new levels also add interesting twists like a pirate ship that rocks from side to side, sending bombs across the level as well.

The main flaw of Bomberman Battlefest’s gameplay is its pacing. Games are quick and fun but the time between them can quickly grind on a player. Loading plagues this downloadable title. Not just immediately following a match where there is a noticeable delay before players can exit the standings screen but immediately before matches where a level must load. For a game that is neither graphically intense nor contains sprawling levels, these loading screens feel excessive and completely interrupt the flow of gameplay.

Story and Presentation:

Unlike the classic Bomberman 64, Bomberman Battlefest sticks to the gameplay over story mentality. There is no actual story involved in the title, just menu screens much like many games’ multiplayer screens where players hop on, create matches and play. Although, this makes sense for the franchise to avoid story since the last time they did one was Bomberman: Act Zero and the less detail brought up about that, the better.

Graphics and Sound:

Not much has changed between Bombman Live and Bomberman Battlefest in either visuals or sound. Aside from adding new sound effects for the new levels and powerups, there is no noticeable difference in the sound design.

Graphics have remained mostly the same as well with the exceptions being the new costumes that Bomberman can unlock. In addition to importing previous costumes from Bomberman Live, including DLC content, players will be getting a whole new set to unlock (for an achievement too if they unlock every piece) and the ability to use their XBox Avatar as well.

Overall:

For first time players, Bomberman Battlefest is a good purchase for an introduction to the series. After the abysmal Bomberman: Act Zero, it is good to have the classic white bomber present in the forefront of players’ minds. Sadly, returning players aren’t going to feel a huge leap since Bomberman Live from two and a half years ago. The new modes and powerups feel more like an expansion pack instead of a new game. Sadly, everyone will feel the nuisance of constant loading screens that kill the rapid fire excitement the actual gameplay is intended to have. Bomberman Battlefest, while fun, doesn’t change enough to make this title the must buy the original Bomberman Live was years ago.

XBox Live Arcade (Also available for download from the PlayStation Store and on WiiWare)

Developer: Pi Studio

Publisher: Hudson Soft

Price: 800 Microsoft Points ($10.00)

Score: 6.0

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