Bomberman Live: Battlefest: review

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  • Format: XBLA (version reviewed), PSN, WiiWare
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Hudson Soft
  • Developer: Pi Studios
  • Players: 1-4 (offline), 1-8 (online)
  • Site: http://www.hudsonent.com/battlefest/

Even the most devoted of Bomberman fans are going to find Bomberman Live: Battlefest a bit hard to swallow. A sequel of sorts to 2007’s Bomberman Live, Battlefest comes off more like a patch that’s been kept in a dusty basement for a few years. The updates are marginal at best; resulting in a game that’s still fun, but very hard to recommend to anyone who bought the original.

Putting the two games side-by-side, visually they’re almost identical. A handful of new costumes, Xbox avatar support, and several new stages are a plus, but a lot of what’s new comes with a catch. The new stages add a lot of variety, but many of them are too visually busy or use poor colour palettes. With the same dated graphics engine in use, you spend as much time contending with muddy graphics as you do your enemies.

PhotobucketThe visuals are made worse by the odd, isometric angle the more recent Bomberman games seem to insist on. This wasn’t as bad in the original Bomberman Live, because you could change the view to a more direct overhead angle, but this feature was strangely omitted from Battlefest. Because of this, you’ll often have a hard time approximating your character’s position, and the extra time you spend thinking about that is a death sentence when the game gets hectic.

Other additions include a handful of new weapons and modes, but they come with some catches that diffuse their novelty. The selection of new weapons is hit and miss with some, like the Laser Bomb, feeling more like a power-down than a power-up. The bomb won’t detonate unless someone crosses in front of it, and if you grab it early in a match, the only person to step in front of it is yourself. The Cluster Bomb, on the other hand, is a great new power weapon that explodes and launches three more bombs outward. Those sick of the over-powered Dangerous Bomb from Bomberman Live may want to opt for this one in their custom matches.

PhotobucketWhile the weapon selection does feel a bit better than it did in Bomberman Live, it’s too much. Players will want to remove a few weapons in their matches, otherwise it gets too busy and hectic. That’s actually one of the problems with the game in general – players become insanely powerful, and a lot of the strategy of classic Bomberman is lost in all the chaos.

New modes don’t really do it any favours, as they focus too much on objectives and infinite respawns. Battlefest basically shoe-horned classic first-person shooter game modes into a Bomberman setting. Capture the flag, kill the man with the ball, VIP, and even a take on Counter-Strike are all accounted for, and all feel out of place in this style of game.

PhotobucketBomberman Live: Battlefest isn’t an improvement on Bomberman Live – if anything, it’s slightly worse. In our tests we had better, less laggy matches in the original game now than with Battlefest. Every new feature comes with a new catch, making for a game that’s better in some areas and worse in others.

Three years is a long time to come back to a series with so little to show for it, and it’s hard to think of this as anything but a cash-in because of it. It’s odd too because we’d probably be all too happy to let Hudson have their cash-in if they’d just give us a re-release of Saturn Bomberman.

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Written by Joe D

Inspired by a love for obscure Sega Saturn games in the 90s, Joe is pretty much open to anything gaming has to offer. What he looks for in a game: creativity and strong design, or sometimes just an overwhelming sense of style.

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