Bomberman Story DS DS
Published by: Rising Star Games
Developed by: Hudson Soft
Release Date: Out Now
Bomberman Story DS is one of those games where it's difficult to come to a conclusion about what you actually think about the game. On one hand you have an average, at best, single-player story mode which isn't as enjoyable as it could have been and on the other you have the classic, multiplayer Bomberman experience that's both highly enjoyable and addictive as ever. This makes for an odd mix but nevertheless it's one that Bomberman fans will appreciate.
The Story Mode puts you in the shoes of Cheerful White who works for the Justice Department. At the beginning of the game we learn that Professor Xeal stole the much valued data of the Boratol research from the Justice Department Research Lab. Not only that but it appears that Xeal also stole The Shining Bomb data. Both Dr. Ein and Wolfemann, the head of the Justice Department, decide that recovering both sets of data is highly important and therefore Cheerful White, one of the Bombermen, must be called in immediately.
Whilst the Story Mode is classed as an RPG it's fair to say that it's not a deep RPG experience by any stretch of the imagination. Yes, Cheerful White will level-up as he earns specific amounts of experience and levelling-up will earn extra abilities but there's no complex battle system or engaging storyline here. What is interesting is how you'll use the typical Bomberman abilities throughout the course of the game and also that you'll have various mini-games that masquerade as puzzles to solve. When you encounter one of these mini-games you'll need to work the puzzle out with the stylus. The first one of these you come across requires you to form a bridge with log sections that are floating in the water. You have to touch the logs with the stylus to make Cheerful White throw a bomb. Get the timing right and the log will turn. If it's the right size the turned log will hit the rocks and form part of the bridge. All of these mini-games, once unlocked in the Story Mode, can be played again at any time.
You'll have to deal with enemies in real time but thanks to a good range of special bombs Cheerful White has available to him, the enemies are never too much of a problem. The yellow Bait Bomb attracts most enemies to it before exploding. The red Cross Bomb shoots fireballs in four directions and these fireballs even go right through blocks. The blue Pile Bomb can be stacked (up to four can be stacked) for greater explosive power. Holding the green Barrier Bomb makes Cheerful White temporarily invincible. The purple Remote Bomb can be detonated by pressing the B button. The pink Blow Bomb splits when you throw it and then hits. Finally there's the immensely powerful white Shining Bomb. The sheer variety of bombs and the way you have to use them in the game is a real highlight of the Story Mode.
The Story Mode has its moments but on the whole it's a middling affair. The Multiplayer mode however is classic Bomberman and can't really be faulted. You can either play the multiplayer game against up to seven AI or human opponents (or a mix of both of course). The game supports the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service so you'll be able to play the game against Bomberman fans from around the world. When playing the game using the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service you are limited to four players however. The action takes place over the two screens and it plays very nicely. What I really like about the multiplayer game is that it supports single-card download play for up to eight players so it's possible to have a great game with friends and relatives who don't own a copy of the game. It's easily one of the best multiplayer experiences on the DS to date.
The game's presentation is absolutely fine. The graphics are best described as adequate and nothing more. In fact you could argue that the graphics are no more than GBA quality. Good use has been made of the two screens in both the Story Mode and Multiplayer mode. Deaf gamers won't have any problems with the game as all of the dialogue is text only and you need to press a button to progress the dialogue meaning you'll get to read the text in your own time. All tutorial messages are also in text.
As we said at the top of the review, Bomberman Story DS is one of those games that is difficult to come to a conclusion about because of the difference in quality between the Story Mode and the Multiplayer game. To be fair, the Story Mode isn't bad but it's certainly not as good or as enjoyable as it could have been. It has its moments however and I like the way you have to use the different bomb variations. Some of the mini-games are quite good too. The multiplayer portion of the game is where it really shines though and such is the quality of the multiplayer game that it's easy to forgive the average single-player portion of the game.