When it comes to multiplayer competition, there are few formulas that work better than Bomberman. Running around a maze while attempting to outthink and outmaneuver your friends with a carefully placed bomb may be a simple concept, but it makes for a fantastic fight. With that in mind, it is little surprise that Hudson Soft's Bomberman Live for Xbox Live Arcade has sold over half a million copies. Given those sales figures, it is also little surprise that Hudson has a sequel in the works.
Bomberman Live: Battlefest doesn't do much to change up the classic Bomberman gameplay. And why should it? It's usually not wise to mess with something that has proven successful for about 20 years. Instead, Battlefest continues to refine the game by tweaking existing gameplay modes, adding some new ones, and experimenting with new power-ups.
Many of the more popular game types from the previous Bomberman game have returned for this sequel. Fans of modes like Zombie and Paint Bomb will be relieved to hear that these favorites have returned. Of course, the "normal" Battle mode is in place as well. Interestingly enough, some of the new gameplay modes take cues from first person shooters. There's a capture the flag variant; Capture the Crown, a take on the old "kill the man with the ball" game; and Bankroll, which lets you use money earned from a previous match to purchase power-ups before the start of the next round.
There are new types of arenas as well, and an effort is being made to make the stages feel more alive. This means that some stages will have more animation and interactive elements such as a pirate ship stage that slowly rocks back and forth, occasionally running into a large wave that moves the ship so much that any visible bombs and power-ups slide around. There's even an arena inspired by Hudson's Adventure Island series that features cannons on the sidelines that periodically launch coconut bombs into the middle of the action.
Thanks to player feedback, the unpopular Land Mine power-up has been removed from the game, but a few new power-ups have been added to the mix. The Rocket Bomb, which flies across the screen, stunning whoever it hits seems like a wicked little tool, but I rather liked the Cluster Bomb. This bomb had three adorable little bombs attached to it. Once the main bomb goes off, the three remaining bombs fly off in different directions for a follow-up blast.
Get in the Game
The new feature that the folks at Hudson Soft seem most excited about is the ability to use your Xbox avatar as a playable character. Unfortunately, you can't mix and match body parts with your avatar (i.e. you can't stick your head on Bomberman's body), but if you ever wanted to personally get revenge on a friend who trapped you in a corner with a carefully kicked bomb, using your avatar to do so will be extremely satisfying.
If, however, you're one of those people without friends to play with, you'll have to make do with settling the score with the game's computer players. Hudson boasts that Battlefest features even smarter enemy AI that makes more effective use of special moves and items, so hopefully the single player experience will be more comparable to a multiplayer game.
Like the previous Bomberman Live title, there are a few downloadable content packs planned. Currently, there are three in the works, each offering new arenas, Bomberman costumes, and even achievements. With so many different ways to blow up your friends, it looks like Bomberman Live: Battlefest could be a worthwhile sequel.