With all the fuss over Capcom’s lackluster celebration of Mega Man’s 25th anniversary, another important milestone is being lost in the shuffle; Bomberman has officially hit 30. While never as much of a heavy-hitter as Super Mario or the old Blue Bomber himself, Bomberman was still a force to be reckoned with in his own right. Predating Call of Duty or even Goldeneye by quite a stretch, Bomberman was the king of multiplayer in its heyday. While Bomberman games have run the gamut of genres over the years, the series is best known for its frenzied and fun death matches. With a very respectable and memorable collection of titles under his belt, Bomberman deserves acknowledgment on this, the pink pugilist’s (hey, it’s the best I could come up with) anniversary.
Part of the reason that poor Bomberman is slipping under the radar right now is because his parent company, Hudson Soft, no longer exists. The company went under in March 2012 and had its assets (including the company name) bought up by Konami. Bomberman himself was the brainchild of Hudson designer Shinichi Nakamoto, who created the character and game for the popular MSX computer platform in Japan (ironically, the birthplace of Konami’s own Metal Gear Solid series). When Bomberman came to Nintendo’s Famicom and NES, though, it became a huge hit. It’s rumored that Nakamoto ported the MSX version of Bomberman to NES over a three day period of non-stop programming!
Anyone who has spent a fair amount of time with a game that features a competitive multiplayer mode knows just how fun and addicting it can be to play against real people and not computer controlled bots. It’s exactly that sort of appeal that made Bomberman such a sensation. Friends would get together with the help of a Multitap (remember those?) and slug it out, hurling bombs at one another to try and be the last person standing. While perhaps not a direct inspiration for today’s juggernaut multiplayer series like Halo, there’s no denying that Bomberman helped demonstrate how social an experience video games could be, if handled right.
I’m a bit of an oddball myself, though, because I got the most fun from playing Bomberman’s single-player adventures! Games like Bomberman 64 and Bomberman Hero were some of my favorites growing up, and made me like Bomberman as a character. Bomberman Hero, in particular, stood out to me because of its excellent soundtrack. He’s certainly been in some suspect titles over the years, but Bomberman games always did their best to be fun. Just be sure to stay away from XBox 360’s horrendous Bomberman Act Zero. Seriously, Bomberman as a mindless space marine is next-level bad.
Anyone wanting to relive Bomberman’s glory days will be happy to know that Wii’s Virtual Console service continues to offer a healthy variety of his games across multiple systems. Konami hasn’t been doing much with the license recently, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with all the great titles still available to us. So celebrate Bomberman with the most fitting tribute of all; lob bombs at your buddies! (No, don’t actually do that, silly, I’m talking about in a game!).
I’ll leave you with a link to the awesome soundtrack from Bomberman Hero; happy anniversary, Bomberman!