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Bomberman: Act Zero Review (X360)

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating

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Bomberman: Act Zero Review (X360)
Konami
If ever there was a game that absolutely did not need a darker and more sinister re-imagining, it was Bomberman. Instead of cute and funny, we now have dark and serious and that isn’t cool. Of course, the graphical overhaul is the least of Act Zero’s problems. The gameplay is stripped down, some really obvious modes aren’t included, and the $50 pricetag is just too bitter of a pill to swallow to make Bomberman: Act Zero worth a purchase.
Quick Hits

  • Title: Bomberman: Act Zero
  • Platform: Xbox 360
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Developer: Hudson
  • ESRB: “T” for Teen
  • Genre: Arcade Action, multiplayer
  • Pros: Online multiplayer
  • Cons: $50 price, no offline multiplayer, new graphics don’t really fit

Features and Modes

In Japan, Bomberman: Act Zero was a $20 budget title, and at that price it might have been worth a look. In the U.S., however, it is retailing for a full $50, which can only be described as disappointing. A problem area comes in the available modes. There is no offline multiplayer at all so you can only get your multiplayer fix on Xbox Live. The online multiplayer is decent, but there is no good reason to not include single console multiplayer. The single-player comes in two flavors, a standard mode where you have one life to try and play through 99 levels, and a First-Person-Bomber mode (actually it is third-person) that gives you a zoomed in camera angle and a life bar. Standard mode is just that, standard Bomberman, but FPB mode gives you a new perspective and can be somewhat interesting.

Gameplay

Truth be told, the gameplay isn’t all that bad. It isn’t as good as some other Bomberman games, but it is still the same old fast paced place-bombs-and-run-away gameplay we know and love. There are a few things here and there that are a bit of a letdown, however. First, because of the darker graphics and extremely pulled back camera angle, keeping track of the action can be a bit difficult at times. Secondly, you cannot pick up or kick bombs once you have placed them. This was a major strategic aspect of the gameplay in other Bomberman games, and it is odd to not have it here. Another problem is that every level of the game takes place in the same bland arena with the only differences being the placement of the breakable and unbreakable blocks. It gets old pretty fast. Basically, the gameplay isn’t great, but it isn’t the weak link either.

Graphics and Sound

The main discussion about Bomberman: Act Zero since it was announced has been the new graphical style. Based on its own merits, it actually does look pretty good and features nice explosions and lighting effects. And you do get used to it after a while. But like I said in the opening paragraph, this is one series that really didn’t need a bold new art direction and all it really does is alienate fans of the series and probably turn away newcomers since the game now looks exactly like a hundred other games out there. Also, the graphical change actually makes the game a little hard to play since it is harder to keep track of your character. This was just a poor decision.

The sound is pretty standard stuff and nothing really stands out, but better to be forgettable than have something particularly annoying blaring at you constantly.

Bottom Line

Konami
Overall, Bomberman: Act Zero is a good example of both a poor concept and poor execution. The graphics look okay, but they actually make the game harder to play, which isn’t a good thing. I’m usually a proponent of progress and trying to avoid senseless nostalgia, but Bomberman’s old look was instantly recognizable for millions of gamers and it really didn’t need an update. On the flip side of the coin, the gameplay has not only not been updated, but has taken steps backwards. It is like the graphics are from the future and the gameplay is from the past and it all adds up to a bleak, boring present. There is just too much wrong here and far too many good Xbox 360 games coming out now for me to recommend Bomberman: Act Zero. Rent it if you must, but your time will be better spent elsewhere.
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