Someone set us up the bomb

As part of my skankcore64 project, I want to take a little time to reflect on each game that I play. These will be a retro review, where I judge the game on its own merit for the time it appeared. I don't want to compare them to recent games, unless its a direct sequel or franchise continuation.

skankcore

Bomberman has always been one of those franchises that I respected but never really cared about much. The TurboGrafx-16 was basically a myth in my little corner of Virginia when I was growing up, a legend spoke of in the pages of games magazines. I knew of the Hudson Soft multiplayer mascot but had never felt the need to seek out the maze-based explosion fest. I must have been in my twenties by the time I played a Bomberman game for the first time, with roommates and friends shouting gleefully at the ensuing detonation derby. I never considered Bomberman to be a candidate for a solid single-player adventure game, but Bomberman 64 has shown me otherwise.

Bomberman 64 starts innocently enough, but the first major difference in gameplay that I could see was the three-dimensional explosion. Bomb blasts are no longer a straight line, they now erupt within a radius that can be expanded by familiar pickups in each level. The next major difference is that this game features a very expansive and exploratory adventure that contains a wealth of challenges. Levels are now sprawling 3D environments, with secret paths and tricky collectables in the form of Gold Cards.

These cards can be earned in a multitude of ways. Every level contains five of them; one for completing the level under a certain time, one for defeating 35 enemies, and three that are hidden throughout in sometimes obvious but usually well hidden locations. Boss encounters also hold five potential Gold Cards and also have various conditions to earn successfully. All five must be obtained during your fight or you're stuck repeating the battle until you figure out each boss's ideal strategy.

By obtaining every Gold Card in the five worlds featured in Bomberman 64's Adventure mode, a sixth and final area can be unlocked, which holds all the secrets to the game's true ending. I've heard this final area is very difficult, and I imagine it would be. The overall challenge in Bomberman 64 is not too terrible, some levels were quite frustrating but with practice comes confidence. After a few attempts, I found that most levels could be beaten in swift order, as the Gold Card time trials would infer. Even when a level was sometimes frustrating, the cheerful visuals and stellar soundtrack kept me coming back for more.

The art and sound design in Bomberman 64 is the epitome of pitch-perfect. The game isn't exactly hailed for its deft handling of the tumultuous 2D to 3D conversion that so many franchises failed to grasp on their initial attempts. I think this is somewhat of an oversight. The adventure mode in Bomberman 64 is an excellent transition from sprite-based art to polygonal representation. With so many games struggling in this respect, it's nice to see this series was able to find its footing with grace and so early in that awkward burgeoning 3D graphics era.

Bomberman 64 was a pleasant and welcome surprise, but maybe one that I should have seen coming. It's charming, clever, tricky, and immensely replayable. And I haven't even touched the multiplayer yet.

Review for
Bomberman 64
10
10
Pros

Cheerful

Delightful

Wonderful

Joyful

Cons

One time I 'sploded and it was all my fault. Ok, more than one time. A few times. Alright, it was a lot of times.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 6, 2021 2:03 PM

    More Nintendo 64 reviews? Are you Sirius?

    Read more: Someone set us up the bomb

    • reply
      March 6, 2021 2:48 PM

      how do you pronounce epitome?

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        March 6, 2021 2:49 PM

        Uh pit oh me, but fast and squished together

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          March 6, 2021 2:50 PM

          i saw a video in which the guy kept pronouncing it making it rhyme with home

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            March 6, 2021 2:51 PM

            I have seen people in retro YouTube videos also pronounce it Ehpee Tomb, that’s incorrect. It’s a dead giveaway that someone has only read a word and never heard it spoken. No big deal though, I’ve done it plenty of times, you can only learn by being wrong at first.

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              March 7, 2021 12:51 AM

              I have seen several youtube videos pronounce "niche" as "nitch" to the point where I'm now wondering whether I'm pronouncing it wrong.

              Is this a side effect of the first generations raised by the internet - that read pronunciations are taking the place of spoken ones?

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                March 7, 2021 12:56 AM

                Niche actually was pronounced as nitch in all recorded dictionaries until 1917, when neesh first turned up. Since then neesh became more common in British English but nitch still hangs on in American English.

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                  March 7, 2021 12:58 AM

                  And I also say neesh but my partner says nitch and we always correct each other whenever it comes up.

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                    March 7, 2021 4:38 AM

                    No idea why, I'm just realizing that I pronounce it as nitch when using it as a noun and neech as an adjective. I wonder if that's somewhat common.

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                      March 7, 2021 4:57 AM

                      After years without an audience, he finally found his nitch. Kitchen utensil pornography may be a neech market, but it made him enough to support his lifestyle.

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                        March 7, 2021 6:28 AM

                        I think I do that too, come to think of it....

                        It’s been a long time since it’s come up in spoken conversation, fuck the pandemic.

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                          March 7, 2021 6:59 AM

                          I feel the same way. Although a weird positive effect of the pandemic is being able to call friends to just catch up or bullshit without it being weird. Since the advent of smartphones it's become anachronistic to call without an urgent reason.

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                            March 7, 2021 9:32 PM

                            Yeah that “nobody talks on the phone” thing is so weird to me. I don’t love it.

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        March 6, 2021 5:24 PM

        eh pee tome

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      March 6, 2021 4:22 PM

      Ooh this is a lovely write up! I'm so glad you had a good time playing it Skankcore :D

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        March 6, 2021 5:22 PM

        Thanks! It was a very fun surprise. I look forward to the next Bomberman game.

    • rms legacy 10 years mercury super mega
      reply
      March 7, 2021 6:19 AM

      Like the XM

    • reply
      March 7, 2021 6:30 AM

      What’s on deck next in the Total N64 Mastery Project?

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        March 7, 2021 8:10 AM

        After Duke Nukem 64, I want to play a racing game so there will be a Twitter poll for that soon. Unless someone redeems the Shack Points reward on Twitch to pick the next game themselves. A couple viewers have been hinting at it.

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