Version tested: DS
Poor old Bomberman. No matter how hard he tries, nothing's good enough. "JUST LOOK AT YOU," bellows Mrs. Hudson, as he stands shame-faced in the doorway. "Millions of sales? You're just a party game. Mrs. Square round the way has RPGs and all sorts. She even has a 'chocolate bow chicken' and he's more popular than you. Dennis? Come downstairs and tell Bomberman about Mrs. Square's chocolate bow chicken." "Aye - very popular." "YOU'RE NO SON OF MINE."
And so - after more than a decade of getting it wrong - the poor little fellow persists in throwing himself across the path of any genre that can't get out of the way in time. He's been a kart racing game, an RPG, and now he's a tedious collection of crap mini-games pretending to be an isometric adventure. All the while the actual Bomberman bit - the brilliantly hectic game of trying to fool your friends into the path of massive explosions while they do the same to you - is strapped on as insurance, just in case his latest attempt to break away from the shame of mere brilliance isn't enough. Why not invest in the bit that's already good?
Whatever the reason, turning on Bomberman Land Touch! inevitably presents you with a choice: "Story Mode" or "Bomberman Battle Pack". Story Mode, then, starts off on a boat, where apparently you've been deposited somewhat against your will. It's as if they know.
Cool Black: Let me get this straight. He had a bunch of staff dudes dressed like pirates come drag us out of bed to go to the park? Dang.
Cheerful White (you): (Well, Gold's dad is the president of a big company. That's why he was able to hire those "pirate" people.)
Cute Pink: What are you talking about? A big limousine came to pick me up at my house? Heeheehee!
Giant Gold: Heheh! Of course, Pink, my dear. Nothing but the best for my sweet little gumdrop.
Cheerful White: (Everyone thinks Pink is the cutest girl around. No wonder Gold sent a limo to her house.)
There's no escape. When you land on the island theme park that acts as a hub for the mini-games, you realise you will need to continue talking to NPCs, clicking on emails from other characters and generally interacting with the rest of the "cast" in order to make progress. Besides that, the idea is to wander around the island competing in a few dozen stylus-driven mini-games, earning stamps and tokens as you do, accumulation of which helps you buy your way into new areas. There's some light puzzling, too - usually a case of finding and equipping an item in order to access a new section of the map. It's all easy enough to get your head around with minimal instruction, and the DS' two screens mean you can always view maps and item totals at a glance, but it's pretty numbing to play.
Likewise the games themselves. The best you can say is that they're over quickly. There are flicking games, scribbling games, line-drawing games, bowling games, and games about positioning something on the touch-screen to catch or fire something off onto the top screen. Sit back from the computer for five minutes and make up, in your head, a basic activity that involves little men, bombs, a time limit and a stylus - you'll probably come up with something just as good as the best on offer here. (I did: in my game, you have to scribble "I will not ask the player to blow into the microphone to defuse bombs" 100 times or until I am satisfied you have learned - whichever comes first.)
Of course, mini-game compilations are often a bit crap on the DS, despite everyone's apparent affection for them, so if you must have one then try Rub Rabbits/Feel the Magic, the games Nintendo bundled with New Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario 64 DS, or even the otherwise-forgettable Point Blank DS. In fact, what am I saying? Buy 42 All-Time Classics instead.
Fortunately, after all that, Story Mode is easily ignored in favour of spending time with Bomberman Battle Pack. You could be forgiven for thinking this bit's just Bomberman DS repackaged, but this isn't the kind of review where I forgive people. In fact, you will now be punished with a page-break.