Bomberman Live: Battlefest Review
Hudson Soft, in collaboration with Pi Studios, has brought back the classic Bomberman formula one more time. The original Bomberman Live launched July 2007 and consecutive sequels followed in 2008 with Bomberman Blast for the WiiWare and 2009’s Bomberman Blast for the PSN. Having seen three years past, it is clear that Bomberman Live: Battlefest doesn’t do enough to stand alone.
The gameplay is basic: players drop bombs on a map in effort to blow up their opponents. Power-ups can be picked up to aid in ridding the battlefield of other bomberman such as rocket bombs, trip bombs and the ability to lay down more than one bomb. Before the end of the match, players could potentially pick up abilities to kick bombs across the map, run faster as they weave in and out of indestructible objects and may even be powered down if the settings are applied. As the match progresses, the action ramps up and it’s a battle of wits to the action-packed end. It should all be familiar to returning players and easy to understand for newcomers.
Since the gameplay is user-friendly and not much has changed from past iterations, it’s a bit of a disappointment to not see the series advance outside of adding new modes, costumes, power-ups and maps. Presenting a “been there, done that” sort of environment, Battlefest doesn’t come across as anything more than an expansion.
Up to eight players can compete online, but the main issue is that no one is playing Battlefest. It took nearly two hours to find one match and only two other participants competed. After that match concluded, it took another 35 minutes for another match to take place and then, as expected, no matches have been found in the following days. It’s hard to judge if the online code has been improved since there have been a lack of matches, but of the few I have been privileged to partake in, it was smooth.
If fans of Bomberman Live remember correctly, it was an action-packed title that always offered spirited matches, so long as players were playing against human opponents. The computer AI doesn’t offer lively matches, so be prepared for a yawnfest if you have no friends to play with or can’t find any strangers online.
The entertaining modes players can compete in modes include Capture the Flag (two teams paired against one another), VIP Mode (protect one particular player), Bankroll (think Counter-Strike, buy your power-ups before the match) and even Zombie (tag the map tiles with your color) and Capture the Crown (Halo Juggernaut-esque, carry the crown for as long as you can). None of them deviate too far from the formula, so they aren’t too surprising.
The level design leaves a lot to be desired. Of the bunch – fifteen in total – only the pirate ship is memorable as it sways back and forth on water. When swaying, the bombs slide around forcing players to dodge with agility or else be eliminated from the match. The rest of the maps, such as, say, the classic and dark castle aren’t up to standards, even with the gimmicks – volcano level unsurprisingly shoots soot, clock level has a section that slows down players, etc – applied.
As charming as it is, the luster is wearing off and, before Hudson Soft knows it, players won’t be returning for the same feeling for years on end. Bomberman needs to be retooled for the next-generation of consoles as Namco Bandai did with Pac-Man Championship Edition. As of right now, Bomberman is still clinging onto conventions of old. Players who have the original Bomberman Live: it’s best to stick with that. If you are uninitiated with the series, Battlefest is an okay starting point, although not enough gamers are playing online to competition.