Review: Bomberman Ultra (Sony PS3)

Bomberman Ultra
Developer: Hudson
Publisher: Hudson
Genre: Party/Multiplayer
Release Date: 06/11/2009

Hudson’s franchise player has seen his ups and downs since his humble 8-bit beginnings, but even a few stumbles along the path just can’t keep Bomberman down. The mascot of the title billed by many as the greatest multiplayer experience of all time keeps busy as he jumps from system to system. His newest exploit takes players to the Playstation 3’s online store with Bomberman Ultra. To cut to the chase, Ultra is essentially what Xbox LIVE Arcade players received a couple years ago as Bomberman Live, but when I found the latter to be the best Bomberman title since Saturn Bomberman, this should give Playstation 3 enthusiasts a lot to be excited about.

There’s no bones about it – Bomberman Ultra is Bomberman Live, albeit with a few minor additions to give owners of the PS3 a little more bang for their buck. The menus are essentially the same, the game modes are the same, both offer up offline and online battles and if it weren’t for the handful of extra levels and costumes players won’t have to buy extra as add-ons, Ultra would be a mirror image of its younger installment. Chances are, if you also own an Xbox 360 and Bomberman Live, you’ll be willing to pass up on this $10 upgrade, but for gamers who are Playstation 3 exclusive, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a game that matches the multiplayer intensity of Bomberman Ultra.

Right out of the gate, players will have access to offline game modes that support four human players and CPU bots that fill out a roster of up to eight combatants. Players can also jump online where all eight Bombermen are manned by human opponents. In either format, players have robust options that can activate or deactivate gimmicks such as cyclones, quicksand, trap doors and more in each stage. Those stages can host traditional last Bomberman standing matches, frag matches, zombie matches and paint modes and even on top of that, a bevy of options allow players to set the power-ups and -downs for each match. Outside of gameplay, players also have a multitude of customization options to change their character’s appearance, so to say Bomberman Ultra has a robust option set is an understatement. Perhaps the only option missing from the title is a dedicated single-player offering, however, the focus has clearly been placed on what the series is known for and it most definitely works.

Bomberman Ultra maintains the same presentation seen in Live, but, thankfully, the title throws out very vivid menus and environments. The customization costumes give the characters much more shine than merely swapping their palette and the explosions pop off the screen. While the perky music and cutesy voice of the announcer might drive some players batty, most players will be concentrating a lot more on the seven other players out for their blood to even notice. The explosions still boom with bass as the bombs take center stage during the classic game play. Even those who haven’t jumped on the Bomberman bandwagon can do so with ease if they can grasp the concept of using the d-pad to move and pressing a single button to lay a bomb. Even power-ups such as the remote detonator are mapped to easy access controls so Bomberman fans will feel right at home and new players will learn quickly.

I shouldn’t really have to describe Bomberman to most people, but for those who haven’t been “in” during the series’ limelight, the game centers around players navigating labyrinths and laying time-delayed bombs on the field to clear away the environment for movement and power-ups and, of course, to blow away any enemies without blowing themselves up in the process. This concept hasn’t changed in twenty years, although the series has shifted from a single-player structure to a multiplayer party affair. If you haven’t checked out a Bomberman title, it is a party game right of passage, and Ultra doesn’t stray from the magic formula many first experienced on the Super Nintendo. While the title might not float the boat of just one or two players, the simple, yet frantic multiplayer action translates well to the Playstation 3 and makes it a quality online offering with very few hang-ups while playing with others across the world. Better yet, with four local friends, you’ll be glued to the set for lengthy amounts of time and the room will no doubt be filled the raucous cries of victory and defeat.

Perhaps the only facet that disappoints me in the move from the Xbox 360 to the Playstation 3 is in the fact that after about two years, Hudson didn’t feel the need to freshen up the trophies. Each trophy is a mirror image of what players have been accomplishing in Bomberman Live’s achievements, but, again, if you’re picking up this title, that probably means you do not own Bomberman Live.

The Scores
Story/Modes: GREAT
Sound: GOOD
Control/Gameplay: CLASSIC
Replayability: GREAT
Balance: GREAT
Originality: ENJOYABLE
Addictiveness: VERY GOOD
Appeal Factor: GREAT
Miscellaneous: ENJOYABLE
The Final Rating: GREAT GAME

Short Attention Span Summary:
Even though the game is essentially an updated version of Bomberman Live from the Xbox 360’s LIVE Arcade service, Ultra finally gives patient Playstation 3 owners one of the most heralded multiplayer series of all time. Fans of the series should already know what to expect – a hectically addicting party game for up to four players locally and eight online – but the simplicity of the title enables any gamer to jump right in. The presentation of the title is very well done, but the multiplayer aspect of the title definitely steals the show. There isn’t a whole lot for a single player to do, but a couple of pizzas, soda and three friends are all you need for Bomberman Ultra to suck up an entire night.



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