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The Games of Summer: Saturn Bomberman

Before it eventually folded into Konami, Hudson Soft thrived with a number of recognizable franchises.  Amongst them were Adventure Island (which lasted for several entries on the NES, SNES and Turbo Grafx) and the Bonk series, featuring the hardheaded caveman.  But when it comes to genuine popularity, nothing could top the Bomberman games.

Bomberman was one of the first games to really introduce the aspect of competitive multiplayer.  In the game, would-be bombers moved around a maze of blocks, blowing them up with timed bombs and collecting power-ups in the process.  The goal of the game is to blow up your opponents and be the last character standing, which is easier said than done, especially when your friends find a way to link massive bombs together to wipe out almost everything in one huge explosion.  If that isn’t enough, when time begins running out on the stage, blocks begin dropping to close it out, forcing a “sudden death” situation.

The series has fared well over the years, and continues to do pretty well on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, with the release of Bomberman Battlefest.  However, if there is one particular entry that really stands out for us, it’s Saturn Bomberman.  And there’s a few reasons for that.

First off, though other Bomberman games did have the competitive multiplayer angle, the Saturn version was the first to support ten players at once, utilizing ten controllers and two multitaps.  The games take place on a widescreen arena, so you can see everything that’s happening and still keep tabs on power-ups and such.  What’s more, this multiplayer mode also brought Master Higgins from Adventure Island and Bonk as playable characters – a nice bonus touch.

Saturn Bomberman was also one of the first games to introduce the online aspect of the multiplayer.  Using the dial-up Netlink service, Saturn Bomberman supported two players on each end, for ferocious four-player bombing action.  It worked really well with such a minimal player count, with barely any noticeable lag.  In fact, the Saturn’s version of multiplayer actually lasted longer than the Dreamcast edition, Bomberman Online.  (Ironic because of the Online title, right?)

Most importantly, Saturn Bomberman was simply a lot of fun to play – and still is.  It’s based on a simplistic principle, but remains addictive with each new player that joins in, and once animals are introduced, it becomes even more unpredictable, as you can last a little longer by sacrificing your beast – though they just might remember the next time around.  The environments looked great as well, with numerous styled stages to play through and interesting enemies to destroy in the single player mode.  The music was quite noteworthy as well, stemming that classic Japanese game design flavor while still remaining catchy for Bomberman fans.

Nope, we really don’t see games like Saturn Bomberman anymore, mainly because Hudson Soft has ceased to be.  But that shouldn’t stop you from tracking down an old Saturn system, a few controllers, some multitaps, some beer and chips and a copy of the game.  It’s a party waiting to happen – and with summer in full swing, that’s not a bad thing.

See you next time with another Games of Summer!

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Robert Workman
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