Bomberman Act: Zero Review

Act: Zero could have been to Bomberman what X was to Mega Man–a complete revision of a much beloved series which could attract a new generation of fans while retaining the basic elements of gameplay that longtime supporters have come to be so familiar with. The fact that Konami chose the Xbox 360 as the exclusive console through which to debut this title makes the departure from the cutesy little hero we all know and love that much more sensible. Unfortunately, Bomberman Act: Zero’s execution was conducted so thoughtlessly that it feels more like an incomplete concept rather than a satisfyingly full game.

Aside from the obvious visual overhaul, the game offers a basic single player mode that comes in two variations (First Person and Standard), and an online competitive mode. Standard mode offers the traditional top down view of the arena that most players will recognize and start with, but unless you paint your character in a vividly fluorescent color or have a large screen, it can be very difficult at times to make out exactly where your character is located among the grimy textures and Jerry Bruckheimer-inspired explosions. The industrial theme definitely was a poor choice in this regard. However, there is always the option of playing through the game in First Person Bomber mode, although it technically should be labeled as third person since you don’t actually ever take on the character’s viewpoint. You won’t strain your eyes as much when in FPB, but unfortunately you’ll have to navigate with a restricted camera view. Obviously, a lot of people are going to think this was a bad idea, but surprisingly this gimmick does seem to add a measure of intensity to battles, although it can just as quickly turn into a frustrating ordeal–especially when you have to keep track of everything that’s going on without the aid of radar.

Amazingly enough, there’s no mention of offline multiplayer support anywhere on the box. Seriously, of all the things to leave out of a Bomberman game, it had to be a feature that most people would buy the game for. And if that’s not depressing enough, the single player mode nowhere near makes up for it. That’s not to say that it can’t be mildly amusing at times. In fact, once you’ve amassed a complete arsenal of power ups, the game can actually be quite thrilling. The problem, however, stems from the game’s insistence with maintaining its ties to the original Bomberman games rather than breathing new life into it. Considering how tweaked the battle system was with previous titles, namely Bomberman 64, Act: Zero is ridiculously stripped down (there’s no boot or glove, for example). For one thing, you’re not allowed to save your progress at any point during the game. Regardless of how far you’ve gotten, once you die, you’re automatically booted back into the main screen and given two choices: start all over from the beginning, or quit. There’s no checkpoint, no recovery password, and no mercy whatsoever. You either beat all 99 levels the first time, or don’t at all. The battle mechanics, while an obvious throwback to the early days, are just repetitive and the novelty wears off quickly. Paired with a lackluster A.I. that only poses a significant challenge during boss fights, Bomberman Act: Zero feels more like a pretentious joke rather than a sincere homage to the series. And the level design itself is very lacking, even for a Bomberman title. It’s almost impossible to tell levels apart if you just walk in the room and look at what’s on the television.

It’s highly recommended that you have an XBox Live Gold Membership or seriously consider upgrading to one if you ever plan on purchasing this game, because it’s the only way you’re going to get any actual fun out of it. Once you enter World Battle mode, you’ll have access to a larger variety of game types ranging from quick match to custom match. The best part, of course, is that you’ll also be able to face off with up to seven other players in an all out online battle royale. If you can find seven other people online, that is. The game has been out less than a week, and it’s already fairly empty at times online.

Bomberman Act: Zero is a perfect example of what happens when game developers have good intentions, but bad ideas. There just isn’t any excuse for the lack of attention paid to a series that has gone twenty years without any drastic changes. It goes without saying that for $49.99, it just isn’t worth the money when similarly facelifted games like Geometry Wars Retro Evolved are available on Xbox Live Marketplace for a fraction of the price. Hopefully they’ll release one of the older Bomberman games for play on Xbox Live Arcade. Until then, you’re better off playing the old Bomberman games.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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