Super Bomberman 4
System: Super Famicom
Written by Paul Monopoli.
There are 5 Super Bomberman games on the SNES/SFC. Not many people know this as in the Western world only the first 3 were released. The problem is that Super Bomberman 4 was released in 1996 which was around the time the SNES had started to drop in popularity. The world was anticipating the next generation of systems, & the 16 bit machines were being abandoned. Not in Japan however, where SNES games were made well into the year 2000. On a side note, recently a Bomberman article featured in Retrogamer magazine where they claim that number 5 was the only one never released outside Japan, but I can’t find any evidence to suggest 4 was so we’ll put that down to being a mistake.
So let’s have a look at the game. A very nice intro starts us off with Shiro & Kuro (another little known fact is that the 2 Bombers actually have names) asleep on a rocket ship which is attacked by a group of 5 evil bombers.
The guys are then awoken from their sleep & they are sent into a world full of clocks for some reason with a little girl dressed in cowboy clothes. Hey, it’s Japanese, I don’t speak it, so that’s the best I can give you. The manual has a little comic at the start which explains the story, but as it too is in Japanese I can’t refer to that for plot points I’m afraid. Does the plot of a Bomberman game REALLY matter though? We all know what we’re here for. BLOWING THINGS UP!!!
As you can see by the title screen at the top of the page you have your typical 3 options of “Normal Game”, “Battle Game” & “Password” for the normal game. If you’ve ever played a Bomberman game you’ll be pretty familiar with these options. If not I’ll explain as we go along. How does Bomberman 4 differ from the others? Well I’m glad you asked…
Here’s the first stage:
Not a lot in it, is there? Looks like Bomberman 1, Bomberman 2 & Bomberman 3. Bomberman 5 had a massive graphics overhaul which will be covered in another review later on. But here we are, typical Bomberman play. For the uninitiated, You play as Shiro (the white bomber) or Kuro (the black bomber) & using an infinite supply of bombs (though initially you can only use 1 at a time) you must blow up boxes blocking your path to the enemies, collect any powerups that may appear from those blocks, then blow up the enemies, then an exit will appear. You go to that exit & it’s level over. It really is the simplest of concepts.
Each Bomberman game has little things which differentiate it from the one previous. Bomberman 3 was quite innovative in that it had the Louies (Rooies), who were kangaroo type characters that you could ride. When blown up, some of the blocks in the level would reveal an egg you could collect. It would hatch into a Louie & you could ride it. Each Louie has its own special ability. Yes, it’s Bomberman’s version of Yoshi, but we won’t dwell on that as the Louies aren’t in this game. They do come back in Bomberman 5 however.
Bomberman 4 expands on this feature by allowing you to defeat enemies & use their special abilities. Some enemies when blown up will become green spotted, or metallic eggs. You collect the eggs, they hatch back into that enemy you blew up & they become your pets, allowing you to ride them & use their special abilities.
Unlike Bomberman 3 you can stockpile these guys allowing you to ride one & carry 2 eggs behind you in reserve. The problem with this is when you lay a bomb you must get those eggs out the way or they WILL be destroyed, even if you’re clear of the bomb yourself. If you are in a 2 player game your ally can come & pinch one of the eggs. This can be a problem in Battle Mode which we’ll cover later.
Another new idea introduced in this game is the idea of imprisoned Bombers who you can free. In some levels you will see a rattling cage such as the one pictured below. It’s along the left. side of the image.
Blow up the cage & you get yourself an ally for the remainder of the level. Here he is in the top left corner of the screen.
Why is he up there for seemingly no reason? Well the problem is these Bombers aren’t too bright, just seeming to lay bombs at random. This can cause problems as they don’t seem to care where you are when they place them. You don’t HAVE to free them to pass the level, so if you want to leave them to rot in their tiny cages go right ahead. They deserve it!!
I haven’t touched on the powerups yet. Upon destroying blocks you may find one of the following:
Skates for speed
Wooden sandals to slow you down
Additional blast power
Viruses that cause random negative affects
Remote control bombs
The ability to kick bombs out of your way
The ability to punch bombs
The ability to be hit once & still remain in the game
Spikey bombs that go through blocks
Clock that freezes enemies
The ability to go through walls
The ability to pick up other Bombermen & throw them
The ability to push other Bombermen
2 others I can’t understand from the manual. One has a picture of a question mark & another as a normal human face. I never saw this item while playing the game, so I don’t know what it is.
The single player mode showcases some impressive bosses. The guys at Hudson really have a good imagination when it comes to designing some of these.
Not much to say here. Hit them 8 times with a bomb blast & they’re history.
Music is fun as always with variations on Bomberman themes featured in the earlier games. In Bomberman 3 as soon as you turned the console on you would hear a voice saying “By Hudsonsoft”. This voice is back but it’s slightly slower & less high pitched. The little Bombers will speak occasionally, but as it’s in Japanese I don’t really know what they’re saying.
Let’s move on to Battle Mode. Bomberman 4 gives us a little more yet keeps the improvements introduced in Bomberman 3. You can either choose a generic Bomber or one of the 5 enemies.
Now these guys aren’t just new sprites that look different. Each of the Bombers has their own special ability which can be used to cause problems for the opposition. For example, one of them can swing a ball & chain over their heads knocking items off anyone they hit & scattering them across the screen for other players to pick up. Another one can shoot fire destroying anyone it hits, but he loses all his powerup abilities for a short time afterwards. Now you & all of your friends will want to play Battle mode over & over trying all 6 of them… presumably that was the idea anyway…
When a Bomber gets blown up you can switch on an option that will allow them to come back & exact revenge on the players still in the play field. They pilot little ships that hover on the outside of the play field & can lob bombs into it. If a player is hit on the head with one of these bombs they get stunned & lose some of their items which will scatter around the screen, so if you blow someone up watch out!!! They may come back & hunt you down.
This is without a doubt my favourite Bomberman game & it’s a shame it was never released outside Japan. What makes it my favourite? I personally think it’s the most innovative of the 5 games. Lots of new ideas which expand on an old favourite. It’s got to be 5/5. Sheer Hudsonsoft brilliance.