Bomberman 64: The Second Attack!
  • Genre:
    • Action Adventure
  • Platform:
    • Nintendo 64
  • Developer:
    • Hudson
  • Publishers:
    • JP Hudson
    • US Vatical
  • Released:
    • JP 12/03/1999
    • US 05/28/2000
Score: 80%

This review was published on 06/30/2015.

This review is about a video game developed by Hudson Soft for the Nintendo 64 called Bomberman 64: The Second Attack! It was published by Hudson Soft in Japan on December 3, 1999, and Vatical Entertainment in North America on May 28, 2000. The first two Bomberman games on the Nintendo 64 were Bomberman 64 and Bomberman Hero. Not only was Bomberman 64 the first game in the series on the N64, but it was also the first game in the series to go 3-D, albeit sloppily. The Second Attack is the third Bomberman game on the system and it's a direct sequel to the original Bomberman 64. Both Bomberman 64 and Bomberman Hero were met with mixed critical responses, because they abandoned many core concepts of the series and were plagued with countless issues. Bomberman Hero was particularly bad, being that it removed the essential multiplayer component that defined the series, and was an overall mediocre experience. The Second Attack is a return to form for Bomberman, as it brings back many series conventions, and also restores the local multiplayer. This isn't the best Bomberman game, but it's a huge improvement over Bomberman Hero, and all around pretty decent.

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Strangely, the intro and title screen both have James Bond music. Maybe the composers got the wrong game. According to the intro, Bomberman's universe was created by an angel in the distant past. This angel crafted the stars, the planets, the sky, the sea, and all living beings in the universe. Afterwards, the angel was torn into two pieces: one piece was a goddess and the other one was a demon. The demonic half brought darkness to the universe, and then the goddess enlisted warriors to face the darkness. Using seven magical stones, the goddess and her warriors imprisoned the demon and therefore brought peace to the universe. Or so the legend claims. In the present, Bomberman flies through space in his shuttle after having found a mysterious egg. Suddenly, he encounters a black hole and gets sucked into it! Bomberman then wakes up next to his egg inside some prison. The egg soon hatches into a silly creature named Pommy. With Pommy's aid, Bomberman manages to escape and discovers that his captors are known as the BHB Army. The evil army is led by Rukifellth, who is searching for the elemental stones of legend for some unknown purpose. Bomberman and Pommy set out to retrieve the stones and stop the baddies from whatever it is they're trying to do.

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For this game, the controls and mechanics mostly revert back to traditional Bomberman, reversing almost all the major changes made in Bomberman Hero. Bomberman loses the ability to jump and is restricted to walking around and laying bombs that explode after a short countdown. The bomb blasts are no longer fiery spheres, instead going back to the classic cross shapes the series is known for. Additionally, Bomberman can't kick or throw bombs without power-ups, again regressing back to the older rules. However, not everything has reverted back to the traditional rule set: Bomberman still has a life meter and he's still capable of full 3-D movement. Further, he regains the ability he had in Bomberman 64 to pump up bombs to a gargantuan size, and the blasts from these explosives are spherical. A new mechanic was also introduced in this game that has bomb blasts curving when they hit angled surfaces. What results is a beautiful combination of old and new, mixing the best of both worlds to create something that makes sense for the series. The controls are simple, precise, and everything functions as it should.

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After escaping the prison, you'll have a few choices on where to go next. You won't have access to all the stages right from the start, but you do have multiple ones to choose from. Each stage is a different planet with its own theme, like an ice planet, a wind planet, a casino planet, and so on. The stages tend to revolve around two things; defeating enemies and solving puzzles. Ultimately, you've got to reach the end and destroy a device called a gravity generator, but getting there involves blasting countless foes and solving many puzzles. Puzzles definitely have a lot of switch pressing or block pushing, but there's obviously a focus on bomb manipulation, as well. Despite the polygonal graphics, the game mostly sticks to an overhead perspective, so you thankfully never have to adjust the camera. Helpful stage maps can also be accessed by pressing the start button. Occasionally, there are cutscenes and dialogue during stages, giving the story a more active role. They aren't too intrusive. The only issue with the stages is that they can drag on for a tad too long. Other than that, the stages are pretty fun, being that they're well designed and well paced.

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Every time Bomberman beats one of the main bosses, he will acquire an elemental stone. These stones can be switched on the fly and will change Bomberman's bomb attributes. By default, Bomberman starts with the fire stone, which gives him his standard bombs. The other types of bombs have different effects, like the ice bombs that freeze water to create solid platforms, wind bombs that blow Bomberman across pits, and even a bomb that creates black holes. A few bombs will also explode in spheres instead of the traditional cross shape. Getting new bombs throughout the adventure is always exciting, because they greatly expand what you're capable of. The elemental bombs are primarily used to solve the game's more advanced puzzles and are quite creative. Some of the puzzles get fairly tough later on. My only qualm with this is that the puzzles are too unforgiving. For example, many of the puzzles involve bottomless pits, deep water, and lava, all of which instantly kill Bomberman if he falls into them. It'd be nice if the game only removed some health for falling down instead of outright killing you. Besides that snag, the refreshing creativity of the elemental bomb puzzles keeps the adventure mode interesting throughout.

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Most of the boss fights are against the Astral Knights, elite warriors that serve under Rukifellth. Strangely, these battles typically take place during the middle of a stage instead of its end. At the beginning of every boss battle, Bomberman will have his remote control power-up disabled, if he has one, which means you can't cheese the fights by detonating your own bombs whenever you want. This is a bit irritating, but it does make the fights more challenging. Unlike conventional Bomberman villains, the bosses in this game will rarely use bombs on you themselves, instead opting for various projectile and melee attacks. Towards the end of the game, you'll have to choose from beating the remaining bosses, or going straight to the final stage. If you go for the latter, you'll get the bad ending. The freedom of choice here is interesting, but somewhat pointless. There's no reason not to beat the last few bosses before doing the final area, unless you're deliberately trying to get the bad ending. That's about all there is to say about the bosses. They're fast and frantic, but aren't too noteworthy beyond that. One thing's for sure, though: they all look pretty cool.

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Pommy will follow you around during your adventure and help you fight enemies. The strange creature can either be controlled by a second player for some cooperative fun or by the AI if you're a loner. Similar to Tails from the Sonic the Hedgehog series, Pommy is invincible, but enemies do stun him temporarily and he can't assist during boss fights. The interesting thing about Pommy is that he will evolve into other forms when you pick up enough food items. Food is found via destroying boxes or killing enemies and they come in different categories. Depending on what types of food he eats, Pommy will evolve into different forms, and each form has its own attributes and abilities. This is actually a fairly involved part of the game, because there are many branching paths of forms Pommy can evolve into. Initially, all Pommy will be able to do is stun enemies, but his stronger forms will have him inflict actual damage. Eventually, he'll gain the ability to fly and will do immense damage to enemies with ranged attacks, making him very useful. If you're unhappy with a given evolution, you can reverse the process with a certain item. This is a neat system, especially if you convince a second person to control Pommy.

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As previously mentioned, Bomberman can locate power-ups to give him new abilities, like being able to kick bombs across the ground like bowling balls, the ability to pick up and throw bombs over stuff, and the ability to detonate his bombs whenever he wants. The problem with these power-ups, however, is that they're all temporary; Bomberman loses them in between stages and whenever he dies too many times. That's where the Guardian Armor comes into play. Hidden throughout the game are pieces of armor known as Guardian Armor, and Bomberman can wear this gear to permanently augment his abilities. In that respect, Guardian Armors are similar to the armor upgrades from the Mega Man X series. They even look similar! Speaking of permanent upgrades, Bomberman can buy permanent health upgrades at a shop on the stage select screen with money found during his journey. Anyway, you'll have to backtrack to previously visited stages to get the armors, but they're not at all necessary to complete the game, so you can avoid them if you hate backtracking. They're very useful, though. Guardian Armors are a nice feature and a perfect fit for the Bomberman series.

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Multiplayer makes a comeback in The Second Attack! Unfortunately, it's not as good as it could be. There are five different multiplayer modes: Survival, Battle Royal, Key Trial, Kings and Knights, and Score Attack. Survival has up to four players using bombs to kill one another in tiny single screen arenas and the last person standing wins. Battle Royal is the same, except players compete for kills. Kings and Knights is a mode that involves two teams of players defending their kings from each other. Key Trial is a split screen mode where players search a large area to find keys; the one to find two keys first is victorious. Score Attack is also split screen, but it tasks players with killing barnyard animals for points and the winner is the one with the highest score. With the exception of Survival, all the other modes must be unlocked by completing multiplayer challenges against computer opponents. Additional multiplayer stages and costumes can be purchased in the single player mode's shop. The reason this game's multiplayer isn't as good is because it lacks the vast quantity of options from the 2-D Bomberman games. The arenas are also kind of on the empty side. Still, having multiplayer is better than not having it.

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The Second Attack was Hudson's second chance at redeeming themselves, and they succeeded. When compared to Bomberman 64 and Bomberman Hero, this game is better in every way possible. The single player is littered with good ideas that make it more enjoyable, like being able to play co-op with a friend, the Pommy evolution mechanic, the Guardian Armors, the shop, etc. As far as stage design goes, the planets all have the direction that Bomberman 64 lacked, resulting in a tighter, more focused experience. The emphasis on puzzle solving goes well with Bomberman's core game play, creating a far better dynamic. Really, the only department this game doesn't do terribly well in is the competitive multiplayer, which lacks the depth and wealth of options the 2-D Bomberman games have. But hey, at least it has competitive multiplayer. The best Bomberman game on the N64 is definitely Bomberman 64: The Second Attack!

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