Common to both Bomberman Battle Pack and its predecessor is the premise, of course, which probably qualifies for timeless status given its longevity and the fact I still have nice things to say about it: starting at the corner of a large grid, you have to plant bombs with the A button to cut a path through soft brown bricks that separate you from your enemies, uncovering power-ups that increase speed, the number of bombs you can plant at once, and the number of squares each of their explosions will cover, as you go. The idea is simply to blow up the enemy, but the difficulty is in trapping them while they're trying to do the same to you, and of course as explosions grow in length, so too does the likelihood of wandering into somebody else's without realising what's happening.
Fortunately Bomberman Battle Pack shares most of the last game's commendable features, including the option to play wirelessly with up to seven other people using just one copy. Action is split across both screens, meaning that it's quite capable of supporting that number without crowding. There are tunnels to separate top and bottom, and you can vary the number of these so that bombs exploding on the screen you weren't looking at won't necessarily poke their fiery noses across the divide and cause you unexpected problems.
Not only that, but you'll find every conceivable level design stowed away on the cart. There are normal and small stage designs, some blanketed in tunnels and 'kicking' squares, some with conveyor belts, others with spikes and trap-doors, and others where you fight for the crown or sup on an endless supply of power-ups. There are land-grab games where bombing changes the colour of the ground, and if the playing areas don't sort you out, the wealth of options on the next screen probably will; you can compete for trophies or points, change the number of sets and time limit, toggle sudden death and revenge, and even set a handicap. You can of course fill empty player slots with AI-controlled bombermen, too, ensuring a decent scrap even if it's just you and a couple of friends.
But the even better news that I've been keeping quiet about until now is that you don't even need to play with the AI : you can go online through Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection and play with up to three of those magical Internet people. The usual friends-code stuff applies, so be prepared to go through all that again, and lag certainly creeps in if you broaden your net and end up with somebody tossing you bytes from 10,000 miles away. But hey, you should know what sort of performance to expect by now.
Still the best way to play Bomberman, of course, is with your friends in the same room, because then you can form little bombing trysts and avenge one another face to face. I met one of my best friends teaming up in Bomberman: we blew up a ten year old and then went for pizza. Sadly, your anecdotes will struggle to include the boxing glove and remote detonator, as neither power-up is included here, but otherwise there's little to separate this from its predecessor's excellence.
Sounds like a recommendation, then. Only the relatively low price of the original DS game holds it up: if you reckon you can live without the online play, ten quid should be all you need to invest, rather than 25. Either way, it might not be what Mrs. Hudson wants for him, but Bomberman's still one of the best multiplayer games you can buy, and whether or not you want another version you should at least dig out one of the ones you already own and raise your rollerskates in acknowledgement.
7 / 10