Review: Super Bomberman (SNES)

By Drew Wilson

In this review, we check out one of the number of Bomberman games, Super Bomberman for the SNES. We find out is this is a good entry in this action/puzzle series.

This particular game was released in 1993 and was one of the few SNES titles that allowed up to four players. While there were games releases on the NES, this was the first of a number of titles for the SNES. For this review, we only played the story mode.

The story seems to involve an evil scientist and a cohort being the main antagonist. Naturally, Bomberman is the protagonist trying to stop them.

Like the NES version, Bomberman can set bombs on the ground within the grid-like levels he encounters. Like the NES versions, bombs explode in four directions – up, down, left, and right. How far the explosions reach depends on how many anthropomorphized flame powerups you collect. While the bombs start off with only being able to reach one square in all four directions, you can eventually gain enough power to reach almost half way across the map in one direction.

Likewise, the number of bombs you can place at a time depends on how many bomb powerups you collect. You start off with being only able to place one bomb at a time, but you can place far more if you collect enough bombs. I stopped counting at 9.

There are other powerups you can collect – many of which can be extremely useful. You can collect a protective vest to allow for temporary invulnerability. You can collect an item that allows you to walk through destructible objects. You can collect an item that gives you the ability to kick bombs across the level until they run into something. Another item you can find is the clock which allows you to replenish your time limit in each level. I personally never actually needed it, but it is fun to max out your time half way through sweeping the levels. Additionally, there is the ever useful remote control detonation powerup that allows you to set bombs off any time you want.

Many of these items are found within the destructible objects that flood each and every level (minus boss fights of course). As long as a bomb blast touches any of these objects, they will blow up. Often, there’s only 1 to 3 items in each level, so it is imparative that you find as many as possible in the beginning to increase your survival odds later in the game. Also buried under these destructible objects is the exit to the level. You have to defeat every enemy on the screen before advancing, but once you do, you are free to sink through the exit on the floor to advance to the next stage. Be warned: blasting the exit causes another enemy to spawn. Only hit it as a last resort. Another thing is that blasting items will destroy them, so try not to destroy those too on the way.

There are a number of enemies found throughout the stages. Different worlds generally have different enemies. Some are just simple enemies that wander throughout the level where accessible. Other enemies have abilities that you have to watch out for. One is a tank that shoots flame. Another can neutralize your bombs by eating them. One enemy has the ability to simply camouflage itself in the floor (it also cannot be defeated while doing this). There’s even a flying bomb that wanders around and creates blasts randomly in the level (frustrating when items pop up and you can’t get to them in time!).

In addition, each world has a boss at the end you must defeat to move on to the next. Each enemy has its own characteristics and weaknesses. One boss requires you to use your bomb throwing ability for instance. One part requires you to fight against enemy bombermen with abilities similar to you. While they keep increasing in difficulty, it’s more than possible to surround them with bombs, leaving them nowhere to hide as the bombs all blast at them one at a time (mwahaha!).

The one thing that adds a real level of difficulty to this game is the fact that, for the most part, you are operating under a one hit kill threat. Touching an enemy kills you. Getting blasted by a bomb (either set by friend of foe) will kill you. Getting shot by an enemy, of course, kills you too. Dying sets you back by a lot because you end up losing every special ability you collected up to that point (bomb kicking, remote, etc.). If you lose all of your lives, you lose all of the number of bombs you’ve collected up to that point and you use a continue (though you do get to start on the level you died on). This, I find, is what makes the beginning surprisingly difficult. When you’ve collected a vast majority of the abilities, the game does become easier, but in the mean time, you are only able to lay down the weakest bombs, move the slowest, and you can pretty much lay down only one bomb at a time. By the time you get to the end, however, you can find yourself able to pretty much strip a level bare in little time because you can do pretty much anything you need to do – just so long as you’re careful of course.

This, of course, leads me to what I think of the gameplay in general. On the surface, this seems like the easiest game in the world. A simple grid. Bombs blast in predictable ways. The enemies AI is extremely straight forward most of the time. With the added abilities, you seemingly gain god-like advantages over your enemies. All of this, of course, seems to fade away when you actually play the game and make it a certain distance through the game. For me, the biggest threat to my survival, ironically, was myself. Sometimes, you can paint yourself in a corner with these bombs you are laying down. The only option is often just blowing yourself up in the process. Enemies were often a threat, but the biggest difficulty was still trying to not blow yourself up in the process of laying waste to the legions of robotic enemies that aimlessly try and find ways to, um, get you. Beyond that, forming strategies and figuring out how to defeat different enemies does seem to be a feature that remains interesting throughout the entire game. The landscape is constantly evolving, so you don’t have much opportunity to get bored. The indestructible walls do gradually change over time, so you are constantly reassessing bomb placement in each level.

Graphically, this game was pretty good. The constant changing elements throughout the game was a visual treat. The numerous enemies throughout the game was well done. Outside of the bombermen themselves, there was almost no re-texturing to be seen. Everything ran quite smoothly. The destructible walls blew up in their own unique ways – depending on what you were blowing up. The points that float up after each kill was a nice touch. The only downside was the somewhat plain animation sequences between each world. Beyond that, the graphics were well done.

The audio was decent enough. The main Bomberman level music found in the first level is one of those familiar melodies that you immediately recognize when you hear it. Unfortunately, if you hadn’t played Bomberman in a while, it’s very easy to forget how it went. Not exactly sure why that is the case for me. Probably my favorite tracks heard in the game is the boss level music followed closely by the world 3 music. The major downfall of the music is the repetitive use of the same instruments over and over again. There’s mainly the piano, bass guitar, and the general percussion’s with little else until you meet a boss or get up to world 5. That’s a lot of game with the same sounds. The sound effects were decent enough. There could be more with item pick-ups, but I can’t say there’s more needed in this department. Overall, it’s decent enough.

Overall, this game is pretty good. Strange that the biggest challenge in this game is not blowing yourself up. Still, there’s plenty of progression throughout the worlds, so this game doesn’t really get too boring as you make your way through. The bosses are interesting and the powerups are creative. It retains many of the classical elements and puts a twist to it all. Definitely worth playing. Not sure how motivated I am to play this game a second time, but it was fun the first time.


Furthest point in game: Completed with over 500,000 points.

General gameplay: 17/25
Replay value: 7/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 70%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85

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