One of my favorite Super Nintendo games of all time is Super Bomberman. It’s been nearly 25 years since it came out. Hard to believe it was almost a quarter of a century ago that my friends and I would lock ourselves in a room to play this game on countless Saturday nights in Sacramento. GAWD DAMN. Super Bomberman was a revolutionary title. It was the first 4-player SNES game I can remember playing. Super Bomberman in my eyes at least forever changed the landscape of multiplayer gaming. Speaking of which, here’s a cheap plug to an article I wrote about notable SNES party games…
A BLAST FROM THE PAST
Growing up, I was lucky enough to have a local best friend, Nelson, in addition to having a tight-knit band of brothers and sisters who lived two hours away. The birth of this connection all started during the Vietnam War. That’s where our dads met on the battlefield. Thankfully, they all survived and then continued their bond post-war. They each went on to marry, start a family and they stayed in touch through it all. Our countless family friend sleepovers during the late ’80s to mid ’90s were legendary. Staying up until 2 AM, the adults would be downstairs laughing up a storm — dancing the night away, singing cheesy karaoke songs and reminiscing about the good old days. Meanwhile, upstairs, a group of young boys and girls were busy hanging out, filming silly home videos, playing Nerf wars and playing video games galore. Those were easily some of the greatest times of my childhood. So many epic sleepovers and events that took place whenever my Gaming Crew got together. A memoir devoted to those special times is long overdue and something I’ve been meaning to do for over a decade now. I loved my out-of-town Gaming Crew. It’s impossible for me to think about my childhood without those guys and gals coming to mind. Good times.
If I could somehow travel in time back to any random Saturday night in 1993 or ’94, chances are, I’d find myself playing Super Bomberman with my Gaming Crew. We spent much of those two years bombing Saturday night away. The winner would play on while the three losers would switch off. It was some of the most fun I’ve ever had gaming. Even to this day, once in a blue moon I still reminisce back to those days with a real deep fondness. Times were simpler and more innocent back then for sure!
No feeling was sweeter than decimating your friends… unless you happen to kill two at the same time. This leads to major trash talk as well as those two victims ganging up on you for the next round. Is it worth it? You damn bet your ass it is!
Super Bomberman came packaged with a new multitap adapter. This allowed up to four players to play and paved the way for home console multiplayer gaming. It’s just you, three friends, four tangled controllers and some soon-to-be-severely bruised egos. Whether you form temporary alliances to gang up on another player or you play it every man for himself, a good time is sure to be had for all.
Oh and here’s an alternative art style of the box. Shame we didn’t get this cool looking anime-like box in North America, eh? We got the stubby chunky looking Bombermen instead. I want my Bombermen with Super Deformed heads! Ahem…
ICONS OF DESTRUCTION
Here are just some of the icons you can pick up. My favorites being the boxing glove and the kicking one. Punching a bomb from one side to the other is a riot. And not all icons were good by the way. Look no further than the poison skull! My friend used to call it AIDS, since you could pass your disease on to others simply by touching them. One of my favorite memories was how he would get poisoned on purpose and then run around the field trying to tag everyone while screaming “AIDS!”
Each battle zone contains different icons. For example, in this stage you can collect the icon that increases your blast radius to cover the entire length of the field.
With this icon, set a bomb down and you can detonate it at any time. Otherwise, you have to wait the usual three or so seconds it takes for a bomb to explode. You can leave a bomb lying there for 20 seconds even, and then BANG! at the right moment. Or detonate it one second after dropping a bomb. (Just make sure you get out of the way first). It’s a game changer!
Adjust from four human players to even four computer players if you so wish. You can even sideline two of the bombers and make it a strictly 1-on-1 affair. Difficulty level of computer opponents can be adjusted from 1 to 10. Even if you have no one around to play with, you can still blow up three computer opponents to smithereens. Good stuff.
BATTLE ZONE ONE
Classic basic stage. Each player starts off on the side. Blow up blocks in hopes of unearthing goodies to increase your chances of survival. It’s the ultimate single screen kill-or-be-killed party game! I like how this stage layout prevents those lame “I lost because of X gimmick” excuses.
In the final minute of each round, blocks start falling from the sky until it encloses the remaining players in a very tight space. Nothing matches the thrill of being the last (bomber)man standing and the taunting that ensues over the course of the next 10 or so seconds.
BATTLE ZONE TWO
This isn’t called the Western Battle Zone for no reason! Things start out hot and wild as all four players are dumped right smack in the middle as the opening bell rings. Be careful or you could embarrass yourself right off the bat like the black bomberman does here. You’ll never hear the end of it if you mess up like such…
What makes this stage so intriguing is how intense it is. Four player Bomberman is intense enough bu you usually start out the first 20 or so seconds fairly safe on your own “island.” Not the case here! This is where quick thinking and deft movement makes the difference between glory and agony.
Whenever a bomber bites the dust, any icons he has secured during his time of play will be randomly strewn across the map. Grabbing as many as you can may very well decide the final outcome of that round. Be ready!
BATTLE ZONE THREE
Be careful not to stand near one of the dead ends, or it just may become one.
All’s fair in love and Bomberman. It’s a blast, pardon the pun, to lie in the wings and then go pick someone off who isn’t paying attention to the finer details…
BATTLE ZONE FOUR
The Jump Zone has trampolines that send you skyward and landing God knows where. I find the trampolines to be detrimental because they put you in harm’s way more than they benefit you. Get too cute here and it could come back to haunt you.
BATTLE ZONE FIVE
The conveyor belt slows down bombers who walk on them the opposite way. The conveyor belt also transports bombs until detonation. Strategy is varied as you can do lots of different things, which makes the Belt Zone one of my personal favorites.
BATTLE ZONE SIX
The epic classic Tunnel Zone. Nearly 25 years ago this was the stage we most often waged war on. Not only did it have the best look of all 12 stages but it consistently produced the most intense Bomberman battles, time in and time out.
THIS STAGE. Such good memories. Our choice map probably 20% of the time, the amount of chaos and confusion it created was off the chain. The various pipes made bombing that much more intense. Lots of devious and cunning shenanigans were at play whenever we battled on this map.
Bomberman is a great test of your hand-eye coordination. Your multi-tasking skills are put to the test as you scan the entire playing field at all times. Add to this formula a bunch of vision obstructing pipes and suddenly you have Bomberman on steroids.
BATTLE ZONE SEVEN
The Duel Zone is another one of my favorites. Everyone starts out scrunched in the middle. Avoid death early on and then it’s a mad rush to see who can grab the most icons first. The one who does usually wins.
BATTLE ZONE EIGHT
The Flower Zone has always been a bit meh to me. My Gaming Crew also didn’t care much for it either back in the day.
BATTLE ZONE NINE
The Light Zone produced the most excuses. Two spotlights illuminate the playing field. It’s very difficult to keep track of where all the bombs are laid. It’s a very gimmicky map that I never much cared for.
BATTLE ZONE TEN
It sure is. No stinking blocks to blow up here. No icons to collect. Because everyone starts out powered up to the max. Instant chaos!
BATTLE ZONE ELEVEN
Warp exits transport you randomly from one hole to the next but you never know exactly where your end destination may be, or if you’ll pop up in the middle of a blast. It’s best to avoid using them unless you have no other choice.
BATTLE ZONE TWELVE
Remember how back in the day some fighting games had codes for increased game speed? You don’t need no stinking codes here — the Speed Zone puts everyone at max speed. The excuses are bound to come in fast and heavy.
While there is an option to play against one, two or three computer opponents, you have to experience this with three friends. There’s nothing quite like the unpredictability of human players and the pure joy of sitting around a TV talking smack with your buddies. Super Bomberman took couch co-op to the next level!
A COOL “LITTLE” SECRET
This code added even more wrinkles to the game. It’s especially ideal for maps like Tunnel and Light Zone.
SEND IN THE CLONES!
Similar to Street Fighter II and Doom, it didn’t take long before Bomberman clones started infiltrating the market (at least in Japan anyway). Some were downright terrible while most were actually more than competent. The most disappointing one is Bakuto Dochers. I remember seeing it featured within the pages of EGM and wondering as a kid if it might be a hidden gem. I finally played it some 12 years later in 2006 and it freaking sucks. Can’t win them all
Super Tekkyu Fight! is the most different of the clones. There’s an energy bar and players attack with long ranged chain balls rather than dropping bombs. It’s certainly a unique take on the old Bomberman formula.
Spark World is the most blatant of the clones, although it does do a few things differently from Bomberman (two hit system for example). It’s still a fun alternative even if it’s very derivative.
Otoboke Ninja Colosseum is the best of the clones for my money. One of the best hidden gems on the system that barely anyone ever talks about.
NEVER ENDING SEQUELS
Super Bomberman 2 was released the following year in September of 1994. While that was the last release America saw, the series didn’t end there on the SNES. Super Bomberman 3 came out in Europe and Japan in 1995. Super Bomberman 4 and Super Bomberman 5 were both released exclusively in Japan (April 1996 and February 1997 respectively). The biggest difference between the first two games and the last three? A fifth bomber was added to the latter three sequels. Other new options include the mad bomber, new rosters (no longer were you relegated to selecting different colored Bombermen) and arguably the biggest change of all: animal friends known as Louies. Louies gave you a specialized power and an extra life. Each year Hudson Soft just kept cranking out new Bomberman sequels like they were Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street. Super Bomberman 5 is my favorite of the three. But given the choice to play any one of the five, I still prefer the classic original. Perhaps that’s my nostalgia goggles talking but I’m a firm believer that the first one just felt and played the best.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
Seemingly everyone loved the ever living hell out of Super Bomberman. It won EGM’s Game of the Month honors, earning scores of 9, 9, 9 and 9. GameFan gave it ratings of 70, 84, 90 and 90%. Super Play rated it 92%. In Super Play’s Top 100 Best SNES Games list, Super Bomberman ranked #23. Just about everyone agreed that it’s one of the best party games around, especially for its time. I have yet to meet one person who does not enjoy the four player mode with three friends in tow. It’s multi-player gaming at its finest. Sorry but I have to say it… this game’s DA BOMB.
Super Bomberman is synonymous with the term party game. You could lock four friends in a room for 24 hours with only a Super Nintendo and a copy of this game and they would probably come out 24 hours later still pretty happy. Probably. It’s one of those brilliant simple games that anyone can pick up and enjoy. The concept is pure and timeless: drop some bombs, scurry around the corner, hope for the best, pick up icons, look for opportunities to trap the competition and gloat like hell when you do. For my money it’s the most fun single screen four player game ever made. Before the series became inundated with animal pals, mad bombers and such, there was Super Bomberman. By comparison it may look a little bare bones but oh did those bones have meat on them! I still prefer this game over any of the four SNES sequels, although Super Bomberman 5 is a close second.
My Gaming Crew and I poured so many hours into this game that the battle tune is forever embedded in my soul. I’ll never forget my friend’s infamous “L-Maneuver.” Dropping bombs in an L-formation, he would scurry away trash talking and hoping for the best. I can still hear his maniacal laugh and shouts of “L-Maneuver!” to this very day. So many late Saturday nights were spent in his room bombing the night away. There was something magical about it. It was a time in our lives where we were free to just be kids. Not a single worry about school or doing homework and chores. On those epic Saturday nights in Sacramento, all we concentrated on was being the last man standing. Playing for hours on end with losers switching off, those were some of the best gaming memories of my youth. Super Bomberman will always hold a special place in my gaming heart. While subsequent sequels added in mad bomber options, animal friends and even up to 10 players (Saturn Bomberman), I still prefer Super Bomberman by a hair. To me it had the most appealing battle zones, a purity that later sequels lost (I’m not a huge fan of the animal pals) and the nostalgia definitely does not hurt. Super Bomberman is a classic party game every Super Nintendo fan should have in their SNES collection.
A classic quintessential party game that holds up well to this day. Its frenetic and fast-paced gameplay is video gaming magic personified. Super Bomberman is best experienced with three friends in tow. Easily one of the best 4-player games on the Super Nintendo!