Initially, when revisiting Bomberman Generation for the purpose of GCNdex, I was taken aback by the fact that it’s actually a pretty stacked 3D action game with puzzle elements, as well as hints of Pokemon sprinkled on top.
The general premise is that Bomberman finds himself on a mission to the planet Tentacalls (the first of many puns) to defeat the Crush Bombers and recover the Bomb Elements – six crystals that contain the unknown powers of the universe. As you play through each level and world, you defeat a large variety of enemies, traverse around puzzles, and generally blow stuff up with your bombs, culminating in a world boss who holds an Element. Each world is based in a different terrain, for example, Tentasia looks quite different than OctoOcean, giving a nice diversity to the game setting.
Along the way, you’ll encounter characters known as Charaboms, small creatures who have different abilities that will support Bomberman throughout the course of the adventure – for example, Stegodon will increase the distance of your Bomb Kick, and Pommy let’s you remote detonate your bombs.
While it was indeed a 3D title, Bomberman Generation was one of the earliest games to utilize cel-shaded graphics, which was popularized in other titles such as Jet Set Radio for the Dreamcast and perhaps more famously, in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. We’ll talk more about the graphics of Wind Waker in episode 181, but for now just know that people weren’t as mad when Bomberman did it. Because of the cel-shaded graphics and the almost-fixed position of the camera, Generation almost feels like a 2D title. The camera can be fully rotated around Bomberman, but it’s at a set height, and the levels are usually laid out in such an open manner that you rarely need to adjust the camera around an obstacle.
As you defeat enemies and explode objects across the course of the game, you’ll collect powerups that slowly increase your speed, attack radius, and the number of bombs you can lay at one time. When placing a bomb, it will drop at your feet, and you can then pick it up to throw, or kick it across the screen towards a target. Certain enemies and obstacles will require a different approach, so it’s always important to assess a situation before just diving into the fray. As time goes on, even more bomb abilities will become unlocked, giving players a plethora of options in their relatively small arsenal.
Charaboms can be captured at certain points in the game, and the process is pretty similar to a watered-down version of a Pokemon battle. You don’t have complete control of the ‘boms, but you can choose what strategy they’ll use, and then watch the ensuing battle. Charaboms can even be levelled up using the same types of powerups that you find throughout the world, so there’s not much effort needed here. It’s a straightforward process, but it helps pad out the game content and feels like a cool feature that you probably wouldn’t expect to see.
Bomberman Generation really shines when you get to possible the best part of Bomberman: the multiplayer. With five different battle modes, you and your friends can partake in standard Bomberman fair, or explore some newer game types such as Revenge or Reversi. It’s still wicked fun to explode your friends, especially if you can do it repeatedly and with bombs.
It’s not on the level of a 3D Mario title, as far as the action-adventure elements go, but Generation really was fun for what it was: a 3D take on a classically 2D game premise. While it didn’t spearhead Bomberman in 3D – Bomberman 64 made that jump five years prior – it did extend the idea that Bomberman doesn’t need to be constrained to one specific type of gameplay. This would definitely be challenged in a less-successful way with Konami’s horrifying, dystopian Bomberman: Act Zero in 2006, teaching us that Bomberman can adapt to almost anything, as long as he still looks cute.
Bomberman Generation received a spiritual sequel, Bomberman Jetters, which was released six months later, and coincided with a new anime of the same name. We’ll take a look at Jetters in episode 188, and for now, I’m glad that I got a chance to play Bomberman Generation. It challenged what I thought a Bomberman game should be, and I think that I came out of it with a deeper appreciation for this weird spaceman who lays cartoon bombs all over the place.
Did you ever play Bomberman Generation? What did you think of it? What did you like or hate about the game?
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