Bomberman Story DS
- Developer: Hudson Soft
- Publisher: Rising Star
Once upon a time Bomberman appeared in a fun, frantic multiplayer arcade-style game. How wonderful it was! Everybody declared it a success. But rough times lay ahead and there was no living happily ever after as far as his evil stepfather was concerned. Old Man Hudson greedily milked his popularity dry with a series of ill-conceived forays into unsuitable genres. Today Bomberman silently weeps at each misguided effort, clinging on desperately to the solid nugget of reputation created by the purity of his first outing. The end.
What a depressing story. Much like iconic stable mate Pac-Man, Bomberman hasn't had much luck expanding beyond the original concept that made his name. The simplicity of the Bomberman experience has kept him as a one-note character, and while the spin-offs are never inherently awful - discounting Act Zero (out of ten) - they've never been a success either. Indeed, this isn't the first time he's been involved in an RPG of dubious quality, yet Hudson still keeps trying to shoehorn him into genres such as this in order to exploit the cachet of his name.
The main body of Story is a single-player dungeon crawler across various terrains interspersed with the occasional stylus-controlled mini-game (mini-games? Fancy that!). Bombs, naturally, are the one and only means of attack, and setting off one or more can blow up enemies and earn you experience points. Stat-juggling is minimal, and levelling up happens automatically, upgrading firepower, speed and bomb capacity after the requisite XP has been accumulated.
Given that there's no choice not to, such an imprecise method of dispatching enemies isn't particularly fun. As the baddies wander back and forth, all you can do is drop or throw a bomb and wait for it to explode, ideally knocking it into its body in order to stun it and stop it walking away from the blast. That second or two until detonation soon gets tedious, slowing the game down way too much. Add that to the endless destruction of item blocks and barriers, and the whole thing's a slog that would have been over twice as quick with a good old shooter. Imagine an inferior Zelda where all you ever got were bombs. Set. Pause. Explode. Repeat. If only it were faster-paced. Sadly the weak, simple story and level design can't make up for the wait.
Thankfully, inevitably, original Bomberman is here to back up this mediocre RPG and ensure it won't ever score less than a 5, much like its appearance in the last couple of DS titles. It's as great as ever, supporting up to eight players on a single cart or four over Wi-Fi. There are worldwide ranked matches to participate in, or Friend Codes can be entered for specific encounters. Different arenas and modes allow for a variety of game-types to cycle around but the core element of chaotic battling remains. In short, it holds the right blend of luck and skill to appeal to anyone, especially a group of chums - even if being first one out and waiting for everyone else to finish is always dispiriting. Happens to us all, though.
Then again, for all its excellence, you're getting the same experience here as you are in the previously released mini-game fest Bomberman Land Touch!, its upcoming sequel or the countless other Bomberman games they'll probably be releasing in the coming years. With that in mind, what bland single-player supplement you want to accompany the multiplayer goodness is entirely up to you.