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Iím not old-school. I never played Bomberman on the NES. In fact, until just recently I had never played any Bomberman game, period. I can tell though, even with the N-Gage version, that Iíve been missing out on something. Of all the six N-Gage games that I own, Bomberman is in fact one of the most fun out of all of them, though that might not be saying much considering what I own.

Bomberman is an action-puzzley game viewed in a top down, 2D style. The storyline goes like this. Our loveable friend Bomberman is in the park one day basking in the glory of having a golden statue honoring him. As fate would have it though, the golden Bomberman statue vanishes into a warphole and only he has the arsenal to retrieve it. Bomberman heroically leaps into a closing warphole in an attempt to recover the statue.

The storyline isnít going to win an award for being awesome, but the gameplay just might. You begin by starting in a corner of the map, armed only with bombs and surrounded by brick walls. Lay a bomb down and itíll blow up walls. Blow up enough walls and you may find the exit to the level or you might find an enemy charging at you. This may sound simple, but thereís a lot of complexity to be found.

Bomberman begins with only a small, weak bomb, but gradually he earns a more powerful arsenal through collecting power-ups found on every map. At first, youíll get your ass kicked if you donít try to strategize how youíre going to kill your foes. I thought the strategy element helped out this game a lot. At the same time however, since you donít exactly know where the end of the level is (since itís hidden under a wall and all), you still have to force yourself to make some random decisions every now and then, which creates a sort of chaotic feel that I also appreciated.

As you progress through the stages, the enemies get faster and the levels get more complex. This is where the games difficulty really ratchets up and youíll die quite a few times. Coming from an NES background, Iím sure I wouldnít have cared so much, but since I grew up with a PlayStation, I found death to be a giant kick in the manhood, since you lose your power-ups each time you die. Itís like dropping a soldier onto a battlefield with a pistol when everyone else has AK-47s. Itís hard to recover, though it can be done, and fortunately, you can save the game.

Bomberman isnít short either, so youíll be needing that save ability. Thereís a whole lot to do in this game, and since each area is randomized on start, even previously visited levels are fun to play through. The game is even multiplayer, so if youíve got a buddy with an N-Gage the two of you can go head-to-head, but thatís a puzzle itself.

Outside of just the gameplay, I really liked the style of the characters in this game. They donít talk or anything, but I enjoyed their design, from Bomberman himself to the different enemies that you face. I donít think that Iíll forget the wicked snowman with a pitchfork anytime soon, or the fire lizard that seems to be mocking a certain Pokemon character. The game even manages to have a decent soundtrack, which is the first Iíve found in an N-Gage game.

Will the golden Bomberman statue ever be recovered? Thatís up to you. If you have what it takes to navigate eight different worlds (which equates to dozens of levels) and destroy all that stands in your way, and you have an N-Gage, youíll certainly be able to get this one done. If youíre an N-Gage owner, this is one of the best games on the system, and is one that your collection canít be without.

8 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

Gentle persuasion

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