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Xbox Live Arcade Review: Bomberman Live

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Imagine if in some alternate universe, Hudson decided to alter Bomberman, turning the character into a futuristic cyborg, eliminating the colorful environments people love, and radically moving the viewpoint to make the game unplayable. Thankfully, people aren’t that stupid in the corporate world anymore, and that alternate universe is nothing more than a passing nightmare.

Remember, it never happened.

Instead, there’s a lively $10 Bomberman title for the Xbox Live Arcade. While it misses a few of the better features from prior outings, this is a superb value for online gaming aficionados. Those holding Xbox Live Silver memberships should hold their Microsoft Points for future games.

The concept of Bomberman is ridiculously simple. Coming from a sad initial outing on the NES, the series flourished when the multi-player aspects came into being, creating classics such as Super Bomberman and Saturn Bomberman. Players are put onto a grid-like stage, laying bombs, which explode outward in four different directions, vertically and horizontally. The idea is to simply trap your opponents without taking yourself out in the process.

Of course, much like the multi-player mayhem of Worms, blowing yourself up is half the fun. Not only is it embarrassing when joining friends, the endless taunting you receive can be sent right back when someone repeats your suicidal death wish a few moments later. Adding to the mayhem are countless power-ups, and power downs that can take away any advantage you’ve gained with one careless step.

For its chaotic movements and speed, this is a highly strategic title and remains so even today. Experienced players will know to use the kick and punch ability to send their weapons across the screen to unsuspecting people avoiding other explosives. Power-ups such as time delay bombs and hard-to-see mines continue a steep rise in the fun factor.

Numerous modes of play, unlockable costumes, and the action itself keep Bomberman Live relevant even after hours of non-stop play. That’s assuming you have the ability to hop online, or a consistent group of local friends. Hudson has failed to create a single player experience at all as they did with Super Bomberman though thankfully avoided the path chosen in Bomberman Hero on the N64 which was oddly single player only.

Longtime fans will appreciate oddball modes such as “paint,” in which the goal isn’t to eliminate your opponent (they respawn after a brief rest), but to use the explosions to cover the level. The player with the most colored blocks as time expires is declared the winner. That winner of any game mode can also taunt through the Xbox Live Vision camera, while others have their snapshot taken at the moment of defeat. A few minor glitches fail to put a damper on the fun.

With a room of four active, talkative (in a good way) fans, this is one of the best examples of Xbox Live available. Sadly, the Saturn Bomberman feature of 10 players didn’t make the cut. Still, this is online Bomberman that works fluidly, and it’s gaming magic in motion every time you load this one up.

Bomberman Live is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Comic Mischief, Tobacco Reference.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for His current passion project is the technically minded You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.