爆ボンバーマン / Baku Bomberman
Adventure / puzzle
1 to 4 (battle)
26 September 1997 (JP)
Altair and the Maskers, a band of space pirates, have gotten their hands on an energy-draining artifact known as the Omni Cube and are using it in the only way pirates know how - destruction and carnage! Planet Bomber is their next target, and there's nothing one Bomberman can do to stop it.
At least, it seems that way until the mysterious winged figure Sirius lends his assistance. He's got history with these ne'er-do-wells, and he knows exactly where Bomberman needs to strike. But can he be trusted?
Bomberman's first foray into three-dimensional gameplay; like many other franchises of the era, this venture wasn't without its changes. No longer are you blowing up enemies to open the exit, nor do you need power-ups to pick up or kick bombs - heck, even the grids are a thing of the past, mostly!
Baku Bomberman instead focuses on exploration and puzzle-solving across vast, layered terrain. The usage of bombs is what fuels the puzzles, from powering elevators and activating switches, to using them as stepping stones, bouncing pads or even elaborate staircases! Stages are almost overwhelmingly huge, with all manner of hidden goodies and secret areas, including 100 Gold Cards that are mandatory to unlock the final world!
With the loss of the grid maps and cross-shaped explosions, even multi-player is a totally different beast from all prior games. Battles are set in large open arenas often with multiple tiers to fight on, and bombs detonate into large circular explosions, so throwing, kicking or bouncing bombs at your opponents is the key method of play. Even knocking your foes unconscious and throwing them off the map is an option!
At the time, reviewers and long-time fans were not particularly enamoured with the new style of gameplay. The multi-player mode was considered too chaotic and brainless to match the precision intensity of the likes of Super Bomberman, and the Story Mode's stages were seen as confusing and oversized, if the mode was even acknowledged at all.
The game was published by Nintendo in the USA and Europe, who promoted the game with plenty of magazine coverage and a quirky TV commercial set to a riff of the 1960s Spider-Man theme song. As such, it served as an introduction to the series for people who'd never heard of Bomberman before, and was one of the early iconic party games for the console.
It has its devotees both for its unique gameplay, but also its comparatively serious tone and cast of characters. As divisive as the game once was, there are fans whose only experience and interest in Bomberman begins and ends with this game and its sequel!
The game received a sequel two years later - Baku Bomberman 2 (or Bomberman 64: The Second Attack! as it's known in America). (although released not even a year after this, Bomberman Hero is not a sequel; it follows a completely different story, for a start)
This game should not be confused with Bomberman 64, a Japanese-exclusive game.