Battle (defeat all Bombermen)
March 1996 (JP)
A demo disc bundled with the SEGA Saturn in March 1996, featuring preview videos for three games and a playable demo of Saturn Bomberman's Battle Game.
There are no options; after the intro FMV and title screen, it fades straight into to a 3-minute five-player match in the Fire Goal arena. Player 1 (White Bomber) is the only human-controlled character, all four foes are CPU-controlled. No matter the outcome, the game will fade out once the round is over and hype the game's 1996 release date before resetting to the demo disc's main menu.
The demo's "by Hudson!" screen has the logo for Hudson Group/Hudson Soft; the was replaced in the final has the familiar Hudson logo and bee.
The title screen, demo disc menus and even the music refer to the game as Bomberman SS; this early title is otherwise only seen on the Japanese box art and in the game's internal data. The early logo animates differently: its rocky coat sheds before it rises after squashing the baddies, and it colour-cycles to a pink hue periodically. The final logo sheds its rocks after it's halfway up the screen and flashes white periodically.
サターンボンバーマン XBAND / Saturn Bomberman XBAND
Traditional (defeat all enemies)
1 to 4 (online battle)
27 September 1996 (JP)
A Japan-exclusive version of the game intended for use with the SEGA Saturn Modem and the XBAND network, sold at a discount price of 2800 Yen. It omits the Normal Game entirely, and its big selling point is the online multi-player, allowing players on two SEGA Saturns to battle each other across the globe.
Aside from your choice of battle stage, all options are predetermined: the timer is 3 minutes, Sudden Death is on, and matches are played first to 3 victories. Battles are fought in teams, with two players per Saturn console; if only three players are participating, a level 1 CPU will fill in the fourth slot, and players are automatically assigned a character: the red team is White Bomber and Honey, while the blue team is Black Bomber and Kotetsu.
If a SEGA Saturn Modem is not connected, the game will boot to a lite version of the Master Game with only one unique stage titled NikoBon Pick '96 (にこボンピック'96, a twist on nikopon / にこぽん, a phrase for friendly backslapping). Completing the stage will give you a score grade (out of a possible nine) before rebooting to the title screen; the manual and tie-in website suggests playing this mode with a friend as a contest for the best score.
The online functionality was incorporated into the American release of Saturn Bomberman and boots automatically when a modem is connected.
At the beginning of the fight with Rodeon, you can briefly see a number on the side of the train: 4622. That number has been used as a password for maximum item stock in a variety of games, including Bomberman GB, Super Bomberman 3, 4, and plenty more!
The Bomber Catcher has a bunch of dolls representing classic characters; alongside the recurring Ballom, Terupyo and Pass (also seen in Master Game), there is:
Bomberman '93: Ashey
Super Bomberman 2: Pretty Bomber and Haruka Sawaguchi (her actress in commercials at the time)
Super Bomberman 3: Louie, Metal Bomber and Cossack Bomber
Saturn Bomberman: Kepo and Egg Birdon
The drum loop used in the Battle Game menu is a commonly-used sample from Funky Drummer, a track by James Brown and Clyde Stubblefield.
The Hudson screen is absent from the English start-up sequence, but appears in the demo/attract mode cycle, along with a new screen for SEGA.
The logo has been translated, and the year of copyright updated. The music track has also been changed to replace the Japanese voice-over.
Also, the title reveals itself slightly differently between regions. When shedding its rocky layer, the Japanese logo's debris slides off. The English logo's rock shatters into pieces.
The Yellow Tirra's roars were translated with new graphics.
From SEGA Saturn Magazine December 1995 when the game was supposedly 20% complete. The HUD is missing the lives and core mecha icons, the dinosaur has a soft block on its back, and the mound from stage 4-3 in the right corner is missing.
A filler graphic found among the item graphics. It reads "suka" (スカ), which can mean "nonsense" or "lose".
Master Game's Bomberman has the same number of sprites as all the other characters... even the ones for riding a Tirra!
He even has the disembodied head (not pictured) for riding in the Battle Game's Revenge cart! They have extremely minor differences from the normal White Bomberman graphics; we're talking one-pixel differences here.
Sound effects are found inside the PROGRAM.BIN file, stored as 11025Hz 8-Bit PCMs.
The Japanese version has victory announcements for three unused characters: Jiraiya (from the first Tengai Makyou title); Challenger, from the Famicom game of the same name; and series mainstray Pretty Bomber.
There's a screenshot that's been floating online for a few years with no definite source, depicting Jiraiya among the characters in the Battle Game HUD. Is it early footage? Unused data hacked to visibility? A hoax? Whatever the case, there's definitely some evidence of Jiraiya in the game.
The 0KRNL.BIN file contains several text strings seemingly related to unused debug functions.
STM_SBL Version 2.10 1996-02-01
Hi! Come come everybody.
Guu... I'm sleepinggguuu...
PCM Version 1.15 1995-02-21.FORM
Found at A813C in the Japanese version.
At A83C4 is various code that might be related to hardware image scaling and rotation features, along with the text "OKEYA ROOM".
MASTER MODE JADGMEN
SOUND EFFECT TEST
MASTER STAGE SELECT
YOU KILLED PLAYERS
YOU HAVE KILLED PLAYERS
YOU DEAD BY YOUR BOMB
NORMAL STAGE SELECT
NORMAL AREA SELECT
At A89E8 is a robust test menu, with level selects for all three moments, music tests, sound tests, cutscene tests, and more. Now if only we could access it...!