I'd like to start off by saying that Bomberman Tournament's title is deceiving. Though it does have a multiplayer mode within, Hudson Soft's focus lies squarely on its completely irrelevant single-player story mode. Sometimes Hudson tries to expand its franchise to satisfy those not interested in multiplayer games. Yet, in doing so it detracts from the very draw of this franchise. The best example of this is Bomberman 64 that debuted on the Nintendo 64. In the Nintendo 64, Hudson had a console with four ports (no need for a multitap), a growing reputation as a party machine and a franchise built to take advantage of both, but somehow Hudson Soft decided Bomberman 64 should be a 3D adventure ala Super Mario 64. Needless to say it wasn't particularly successful. Now that Hudson has an opportunity to release a multiplayer game on a handheld lauded for its multiplayer capabilities, Hudson pulls a fast one again and releases Bomberman Tournament—a multiplayer game with silly aspirations of being a Pokémon RPG.
There is not a compelling enough story or any other motivation to play through the story mode. At best it rises to the level of temporary diversion between four-player melees. I'm sure the idea of adding Pokémon-esque creatures to the Bomberman universe sounded great in a boardroom somewhere in Japan, but in execution it comes up sorely lacking. The little Karabons creatures do nothing to endear themselves to players. They are not cute enough or diverse enough for someone to grow attached to them while caring for them or taking them into battle. Speaking of which, Hudson could have done more to make the battles more enjoyable. I can't believe someone would think the monotonous back-and-forth gameplay would satisfy anyone with a pulse. Scott also brings up a great point about the pacing of the game. Dropping bombs in Zelda games requires waiting, but since Link can do so much more, you barely think about it. Bomberman doesn't have that luxury, he drops bombs and that's all he does the entire game.
If there was anything you ever wanted to know about the intricacies of Bomberman's multiplayer mode, I think Scott covered it. All I will add is my assertion that Bomberman Tournament has one of the most fun multiplayer modes I've played in a long while. It was pretty easy since they are based on the multiplayer stages from the Super NES games I enjoyed so much. The frantic pace is just as you would expect and the power-ups are very diverse—although I wish Hudson would resurrect the remote detonation bombs it abandoned long ago. I do wish there were more levels. Given the history of this franchise, I'm sure there were more source material Hudson could have crammed into the game pak.
I agree that the "revenge" feature is a great addition when playing against the computer, but when playing with friends it came off largely as a cheap way of influencing the outcome. "Super revenge" on the other hand, was another story; its the perfect solution for anyone who wants to battles to continue until the walls literally come crashing down on you. Thankfully, this and other modes are totally customizable and therefore can be turned off depending on your particular tastes. It would have been nice though if the option settings were stored on the game pak so that I didn't have to keep making changes every time I turned the Game Boy on.
It's not that I'm completely against Hudson's decision to shift the emphasis from Bomberman's multiplayer modes, but the reality is that no one plays this franchise for its story mode. It's no coincidence that the best Bomberman games emphasize the multiplayer mode. Bomberman Party Edition on the PlayStation, Bomberman for the Saturn and the upcoming Bomberman Online for the Dreamcast are each examples of Hudson playing to the game's strengths. Sporting great features and great stages from the Super NES releases, Bomberman Tournament holds its own against all of them—in spite of its story mode.
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