Gaming Today Impressions of Bomberman Land (Wii)

bombermanlandbox1-1.jpgBomberman Land
Developer: Hudson Soft
Publisher: Hudson Soft
Price: $29.99
Platform: Wii
Category: Action, Arcade
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone (Cartoon Violence)
Release Date: January 29, 2008

These days, I approach anything dealing with the “Bomberman” franchise with apprehension. As far as I’m concerned, the more recent games have been kind of “hit or miss,” and few have really stacked up to the ones from the NES days. I tend to approach collections of mini-games for the Wii in much the same manner. So basically, before I even sat down to play it, the new Wii game, Bomberman Land, already had two strikes against it. Is there anything to redeem this latest adventure involving Bomberpeople? My full impressions after the break.

Bomberman Land brings something new to the Bomberverse that I’m sure we’ve all been desperately craving on the Wii: mini-games. As usual with these sorts of games, some of the mini-games are fun for a few minutes, while others are just a chore. And as usual, the few good games are actually rip-offs of older classics. What was noticeably odd about this collection though was a severe lack of motion-controlled games. Most of the mini-games were about timed button presses than any actual movement, and the ones that were mostly required you to just aim at something on the screen.

bombermanland1-1.jpgI’ll contend that a handful of mini-game collections on Nintendo’s system have actually been quite enjoyable, and I’m actually okay with playing through a series of short matches that string together a flimsy storyline. What I’m not okay with though is being forced to become an expert at a few mini-games just so I can move on and unlock some more. You see, though there are 40 mini-games on the disc, you can only play a few of them right off the bat. To unlock the rest, you’ll have to play through the game’s Story Mode, which has you competing in a tournament to get a higher score than a few dozen computer opponents. If you want to move on to the next round of mini-games, you’re forced to play each round over and over again until you get a high enough score. I’m sorry, but I refuse to become especially skilled at a virtual jump rope. Plus, as an added insult, if you get a low score in any round, you actually move back down to the last set of mini-games to try for a high score all over again. Oh yeah, and only a handful of these games are for more than one player. For the most part, you can only play these mini-games by yourself, essentially taking most of the fun away from your average Wii game.

The Story Mode in Bomberman Land — which comprises the majority of the full game — unfortunately suffers from something I call “why-the-hell-am-I-playing-this disease.” It’s only distinctive symptom is constantly asking yourself the question “why the hell am I playing this?” Usually this is followed by removing the game disc and never touching it again until you start sweeping your home for things to auction off on eBay. Right from the start, it’s just incredibly difficult to shake the feeling that you’re playing an ultra-cute collection of uninspired mini-games that you already grew tired of years ago.

bombermanland2-1.jpgHowever, there is one redeeming feature of the latest Bomberman exploit. Two words: Battle Mode. This is the section that fans of the series are sure to enjoy. This mode features the classic top-down bombing action that’s allowed the series to survive this long. It’s the usual drill: you run around a small map, planting bombs and grabbing power-ups, while trying not to get blown up yourself. You and up to four friends (or CPUs) can compete in various maps to try and blast each other to smithereens. Unfortunately, the action starts to wear thin after you’ve sampled each of the different modes and maps. However, as with the Bomberman games of yesteryear, if you get a few other people in on the action, you’re sure to have several hours of fun.

In the end, this game is only worth the $30 price tag if you usually have a several people over for some gaming, and then only for the classic Battle Modes. Bomberman Land is yet another example of how a cavalcade of mini-games is no substitute for classic competitive gameplay.

Also be sure to check out 1Up’s official review of Bomberman Land.

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