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Wake me up when the world explodes

I actually meant to get talking about Bomberman: Act Zero, like, the very day after that last blog entry, but I continue to astound myself with my overpowering sense of laziness. Has it seriously been nearly a week since my birthday? This entry, for instance, I’m trying to sit down and write it but I apparently just decided, hey, let’s read some of my older entries. Why? I don’t know, I just did, and it took me a few minutesto remember what I opened the file for in the first place.

And that reminds me, there’s clothes in the washing machine that have been unattended to since this morning. See? That’s the kind of absent-minded laziness I am so easily prone to. It sickens me.

But really, what is there to say about Bomberman: Act Zero? Well, in a nutshell, it’s unremarkable. The game is virtually identical to Wario Blast, except without a ridiculous crossover to give it attention – the selection of items don’t extend beyond the usual fire, bomb, speed up, penetration and remote control bombs; there are no steeds to ride, and there are actually no options you can change at all in single-player mode. You can’t change the difficulty, the time limit, or even choose what stage you want to start on. Every time you start, you’re back at the beginning. You’ve got to play all ninety nine levels from start to finish in one sitting, without dying once. To describe it as barebones would be like saying Orson Welles only bore a slight resemblance to a giant bearded oval.

The game does have a mild saving grace – the First Person Battle mode, which despite the name is still in third-person. Rather than viewing the whole arena, you rotate and zoom the camera around your Bomberman, forcing you to track down your opponents with a limited field of vision. To prevent this from being a recipe for cheap unforeseen deaths, you’re given a health bar – being scratched with a flame does minimal damage, but standing in it for long times will obviously mess you up something fierce, not to mention your power-ups get stripped away with the more damage you take. It’s actually kinda interesting and also lessens the blow of the game’s awkward quirks regarding the bombs; the game is nice enough to include a little bit of variety throughout the single-player mode (judging by the one mild mix-up I saw in the twelve stages I played), but it’s still something that’s going to get very monotonous even to the most patient of individuals.

However, it genuinely is the presentation that makes the game so irritating. When I last played the game I had a headache afterwards from just thirty minutes of it, and I blame it on the sound. Dear lord, the noise. The music is like someone raided raided the instruments from the F-Zero GX soundtrack and decided to bang them all together like tambourines. It’s not so much music as it is just a generic grunge-like cacophony. Also, instead of the traditional squealing Japanese voice struggling to pronounce “Fire Up” without access to an R sound like the series normally has, we get a generic female computer voice that speaks in a very grating manner. There’s barely any variety in what it says, and even after just twelve stages I was sick to the teeth of hearing “you’re alive. Get to the next stage.” When I inevitably go round the fucking bend and enter a state of unrestrained madness you know I’ll be plastering that all over the site. Just a head’s up.

The graphics don’t really offend me, though. They’re not very inspiring, though. You’d expect some even mildly decent visuals from a full price Xbox 360 game (they didn’t even have the courtesy to release it as a budget title, never mind a downloadable game!), or at least a touch of diversity, but… no, the one arena you see is the one you’ll be seeing for the whole game. I think that’s my biggest complaint about the game – I can live with it being shallow and cumbersome (what Bomberman game isn’t?), but the fact they redesigned the character and gave it an entirely new vibe, and then squandered it by not doing anything new. There’s no point lying about the story because it’s pretty dumb-sounding, but if they’d been willing to make a proper adventure game out of this that broke the mould of a traditional Bomberman game, then, hell, they could’ve had something interesting! But no, it’s just the same old stuff in a different package. It’s totally wasteful.

I will say that the character designs are kinda creepy. Its basic elements of glowing parts and a giant claw are cool, but it’s the finer details that weird me out, such as the fact their hands are chained to their waists, their claw is attached to their spine via a tube, and the females are like some bizarre adventure in creepy techno fetish art. Despite being freakin’ robots, the females have high heels, stockings and bouncing breasts. One can question why they even have female robots to begin with, but it doesn’t make it any less unsettling.

It’s sad. On one hand, I feel a sense of mild relief to see the game on my shelf, knowing that I finally have it and didn’t have to spend any of my own money on it (that’s money that could go towards buying Japanese game guides I can’t read!), but on the other, actually thinking of playing the game makes me cringe a little. Oh, Rage Quitter, what monstrosity have you foist upon me?!

Meanwhile, in the land of good games, my brother’s been thinking a lot about indie games lately and I got trying out some I picked up ages ago. Legend of Princess is pretty freakin’ kickass, and even as just one level I can’t help but feel there was a serious amount of effort put into it. Kudos!

I will say the ending message bugged me, though. “Now go and play the real games,” it says. Yeah, I would, if they played like this and weren’t serious balls. It’s kind of sad how one serious stinker like Twilight Princess can change my tone dramatically to the series.