Bomberman Hero

Developer: Hudson Soft
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: September 1 1998
Regions: NA, PAL, JP
Genre: Platformer
Multiplayer: 1 player
Cart Size: 12MB / 96Mbits
Saving: Cartridge
Rumble Pak?: Yes
Expansion Pak? No
- Required? No

Is Bomberman's second N64 adventure a blast or does it bomb?

Like many franchises that went from 2D to 3D, Bomberman's 3D entries have seen mostly mixed reactions. Bomberman 64, the first 3D game in the series, was met with lukewarm reception. Critics and players alike seemed to enjoy the addition of an adventure mode but complained about the lackluster multi-player mode. For better or worse, Hudson Soft followed up with another Bomberman game on the N64 just a year later. Only this time it wasn't quite the Bomberman you've come to know and love. But is it still good? Let's find out!

Bomberman Hero was released in September of 1998, just 12 months after the more traditional Bomberman 64. Rather than retreading old territory, it decided to blaze its own path in the Bomberman franchise. In Hero, Bomberman could now run, jump, gain new bomb capabilities, and even ride a jetpack. At its core it was still a Bomberman game. All the elements that tied it to the franchise were still there - specifically bombs. Bomberman Hero was more akin to a 3D platformer, as was popular at the time, rather than a traditional Bomberman. There was no multi-player mode at all, which seemed to turn many people off. The game was split into levels, most of them featured Bomberman on foot, throwing bombs to open new passageways, defeating enemies, and finding his way to the end. Occasionally you'll come across a level that pits Bomberman on a jetpack, either in the sky or underwater, and plays closer to a 3D shooter, and rather than sending lasers towards the enemies, Bomberman launches bombs. You also find a big rabbit-looking fellow name Louie whom you can ride and jump extra high with.

Level structure is almost always straight-forward, with little to no exploration aspects. Most of the levels are fairly short and easy, which is somewhat disappointing, but each level is scored out of 5 (5 being a perfect score). To attain a perfect score for any given level, you must find every gem and power-up and defeat every enemy. This adds to replay value, if you're into completing a game to its fullest. While attaining a perfect score on early levels is quite easy, it actually proves to be quite challenging later on. This remains especially true on boss fights. Speaking of which, boss fights tend to range from very easy to very frustrating. Maybe it was just me but there's one particular recurring boss that shows up once per world that is a very formidable challenger. I found myself dying a lot during those fights.

Occasionally frustrating boss fights and fairly simple levels aside, Bomberman Hero is still a fairly enjoyable game. It's far from perfect, and its similarities to the Bomberman franchise are really only on the surface, but it does provide a nice 3 or 4 hour adventure with some decent challenges. Completionists will obviously get more out of this game, since the real challenge lies in getting a perfect score for each level. Something else that adds to replay value are hidden exits. There are a few levels that can only be accessed by finding a hidden exit inside a level. Most of them aren't too challenging to find but it does provide slight replay value since you can just skip over those hidden levels otherwise.

Graphically, Bomberman Hero is nothing special. Most of the enemies are nothing more than a sphere with eyes or at least are very basic in design, and Bomberman looks as he always has, which has always been a pretty simple design. The levels aren't too detailed and most are pretty simple in their layout. Overall, Bomberman Hero's visuals will certainly not "wow" anyone, but they're certainly adequate, if a bit basic.

On the musical front, Bomberman Hero provides some quite memorable and pleasurable tunes. The music seems to have been influenced by the drum-n-bass sub-genre, which actually makes it quite unique within the video game soundtrack realm. I found the vast majority of the game's music to be very enjoyable to listen to, even outside of the game. There aren't a ton of different tracks, and you'll find that the same music tracks tend to repeat themselves on different levels, but that's not really an issue since the music is genuinely good.

Overall, Bomberman Hero is a solid game, if nothing spectacular. It more or less throws Bomberman into uncharted territory for the character, but familiar territory for fans of 3D platformers. It's not particularly difficult, long, or memorable, but while it does last, it's a pretty fun game. One big draw to the Bomberman series has always been the fun in multiplayer modes, but this game has no such things, which I find hurts the replay value a bit. Even without a multi-player mode, Bomberman Hero is still entertaining and merits at least one playthrough if you're into 3D platformers.

Presentation: 6.0
The story is explained through basic cutscenes but they aren't executed very well. I found myself skipping them after a while. The game is overall a bit simplistic in design but still works fairly well for the game.

Graphics: 6.0
Much like its presentation, the graphics are pretty simple and basic, but do an adequate job. You will certainly never be "wowed" by them but I've seen worse.

Sound: 9.0
The most distinct and memorable feature of the game is the music. The sound effects are there and do their job, but the music is the real star. Most of the tracks are fantastically composed and have a unique style within the video game soundtrack realm. I find myself listening to the music outside of the game every once in a while as well.

Gameplay: 7.5
The foundation of the gameplay is solid and does nothing particularly innovative, but still provides some simple fun. Fans expecting another traditional Bomberman game will be disappointed, but those craving another 3D platformer should have a good time.

Lasting Appeal: 6.5
If you're a completionist, this game might hold your interest for a while since getting a perfect score on every level might prove a challenge. If you just want to reach the end and call it quits, you're likely to be disappointed, since there is no multi-player mode of any kind, and the adventure mode on the short side.

Overall: 7.0

Written by Mike Pellegrino
April 19 2015