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PAX 2008 Impressions: Bomberman Blast and Alien Crush Returns

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Tucked all the way in the back of the PAX 2008 expo hall was Hudson’s booth, and while the booth was small, it turned out to have some great games inside. Along with the already-released Deca Sports and the upcoming Fishing Master: World Tour, Hudson had two future WiiWare titles on display. Both were previously announced before they appeared on the PAX 2008 show floor:

Bomberman Blast (Release date: Q4 2008)

While the Bomberman series has already been introduced to the world of downloadable games, Bomberman Blast is unique. While Bomberman Live was developed by Backbone Entertainment, Bomberman Blast was developed by the Japanese Hudson studio. Like other Xbox Live Arcade titles, Bomberman Live sought to bring a classic title and give it a new-age twist. Bomberman Blast, however, is much more akin to the old Bomberman titles of the NES and Super Nintendo eras, albeit with 3-D graphics and online game play.

The game also features classic Bomberman-style multiplayer game modes. Bomberman Blast features ten different boards and up to 8 players on a single console (4 Wii remote + 4 Gamecube controllers). Many of Bomberman’s traditional power-ups – like power bombs, skulls and bomb kicking – are back this time around, as well as some new ones like the rocket power-up. Some items in multiplayer mode are only activated by shaking the Wii remote, so they can in essence be stored until you need them. Miis can also be used in place of Bomberman’s head during multiplayer games. Online rankings will also be available to players when the game is released.

Alien Crush Returns (Release date: Q4 2008)

An update of the TurboGrafx-16 classic that’s available on the Virtual Console, Alien Crush Returns brings the original Alien Crush into the 21st century while retaining a retro-style game play. The build available at PAX was actually the Japanese version of the game that came out on August 26, but the North American version will be identical when it is released.

Like the first Alien Crush, Returns features you facing off against an alien menace, complete with a detailed story mode. An arcade mode will also be made available that lets you play all the tables you’ve unlocked to get high scores. There will be online features like multiplayer modes and leaderboards as well, something that is certainly welcome on the Wii’s online services.

The game has received a huge graphical update and looks great. The first board, which I played at PAX, looks as if it were alive. From the organic entry lane that slithers as the ball is shot into the play field, to bumpers that explode in a green gooey mess when they are hit enough times, the game feels every bit like a conflict played out through pinball, just like the original game. In addition to a graphics update, a new feature has been added in the form of action balls. These pinballs each have special attributes while they are in play, and they add to some of the overall skill and fun of the game. Boss battles and bonus rooms from the first Alien Crush also return and are just as exciting this time around.

The control set-up is almost identical to that of Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection, something that is very good indeed. Whether it’s using the B and Z buttons to control the paddles or the motion-sensing Wii remote to tilt the table, the controls feel very natural and easy to get into. Additional downloadable content is planned to be available on the Wii Shop Channel in the future, including extra tables and additional action balls.

Hudson Director of Marketing Mike Pepe noted both games do not have official release dates, but are expected to be on the WiiWare service within the next two months. Price points were also not finalized, but both should likely be between 800 and 1,000 Wii points each.

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