Anybody wondering where I've been for the past couple of days can thank Nokia for my impromptu disappearance - having read a "Bomberman on N-Gage" press release early on Monday morning, I suddenly realised I was genuinely looking forward to a forthcoming game on the rightly maligned Finnish handheld, and promptly died of shock. Fortunately I just happened to have a decent stock of Phoenix Downs on back-order, and as soon as they turned up one of my housemates was kind enough to jam one down my throat and set me up in front of a keyboard. I awoke just minutes ago.
Right then, let's try that again without all the coughing and the dying, eh? This week, those Finnish-not-Swedish mobile phone peddlers at Nokia have announced probably the first game on the handheld to draw genuine excitement from hardened cynics of the taco-shaped and perhaps even dog-like console-cum-phone: a version of Hudson Soft's seminal multiplayer title Bomberman complete with Bluetooth wireless support for two-player battles across five battle stages.
Although that's all the firm has dealt with for now, it is nevertheless far more significant a coup than Nokia makes out. "Bomberman on the N-Gage platform is the first time on any platform that Bomberman players can compete against each other without having to connect complicated cables," it says 'ere, but perhaps more interesting would have been news of which Bomberman the N-Gage version is based upon. Worryingly the obligatory corporate quote makes menacing reference to an "action-packed 3D world", which, unless it's a lazy description of the classic 2D almost-top-down view, implies one of the later console versions rather than the 16-bit classics your bumbling correspondent used to play and love on the Super Nintendo.
If we're fortunate though, it'll be one of the first two 16-bit releases, Super Bomberman or its sequel (but not the third, which I reckon was the worst of the three and more of a mission pack than anything else). As long as Hudson and co. don't go overboard in violating the original formula with new power-ups and whatnot, the N-Gage could be onto a winner. It's still hardly a killer application, but short of some Monkey Ball-style "this must be in 3D" foul-up surely the only worry is that two-player Bomberman was never as good as four-player Bomberman? We shall see - in the second quarter of this year.
P.S. Bomberman N-Gage will also have an eight-level single-player mode, but as with all the other Bomberman single-player modes, nobody here cares.