I remember reading some little review or feature about this game in the UK’s Sega Saturn Magazine way back in the dark pre-internet days of 199X and they seemed to be quite positive about it (then again, they liked Deep Fear). In any case I’ve had this on my internal to-buy list for a long time but only played it for the first time this week and why on earth did I wait so long?! This is brilliant!
All I really wanted from Fight!! was for it to not be as bad as Bomberman Wars (please), a game that somehow managed to completely remove both the fun and the charm from Hudson’s long-running Bomber-series in just one go. Different is fine – Bomberman Race is a cute-n-chunky little kart game that I like to have around – but just something Bomberman-y and not awful.
After five minutes I was convinced this was my favourite Bomberman game ever, and sitting here as I type this several days after that unexpected revelation I’m still as sure about it as I was the first time that crazy thought popped into my head.
The Fight!! difference stems from two main ideas – the multi-height isometric arenas and the fast-paced game design that’s all about having you run around kicking bombs at people and gracefully back flipping over explosions at the last second.
Let’s talk about the arenas first: They’re quite small and far more open than a typical Bomberman grid, a feeling that’s only enhanced by your ability to jump and dash around at will. These compact arenas mean that opponents are rarely more than a bomb-toss away right from the start of the match, and the undulating landscapes offer plenty of opportunities to throw bombs off a high bridge or leave a clutch of them in a dip to create a dangerous chain reaction. The end result is less time spent clearing a tedious path towards your mortal enemy and more time blowing opponents to bits in cruel and amusing ways.
The designs of these new arenas goes hand-in-hand with the fluid and frenetic new battle style; the old ‘polite’ battle system that had you start with a bomb that could explode at your feet and struggle to singe your Bomber-eyebrows replaced with a selection of characters that can kick, throw, and lay several dangerous bombs as standard. This means fights start at ‘hectic’ and work their way up to ‘complete mayhem’, with players lobbing enormous bombs at each other whenever their special bomb gauge fills up (achieved in the most perfect way possible – by dropping even more bombs) and turning a good quarter of the screen into a death trap.
It is fair to say that the viewpoint, height system, and generally bomb-happy gameplay makes for a more imprecise experience than older titles in the series, but this has been accounted for with an energy meter – no sneaky one-hit KOs to worry about here! This also has the fantastic added effect of encouraging everyone to play in a more offensive manner, and it’s even possible to get into daft bombs-to-the-death scraps with other players as you try to whittle their energy down before they deplete yours and become the last Bomber standing.
It’s not all about the fighting though… Actually that’s a lie, it’s all about the fighting! The single player exclusive modes are just different ways to pass the time while you wait for your soon-to-be-ex-friends to arrive, the story and survival modes on offer (as well as the vs. CPU battling) adding a touch of variety without taking the focus away from the bit you came for, which is to hoof a bomb into somebody’s head and then gallop to safety on a goofy-lookin’ horse before it explodes.
Bomberman Fight!! is Bomberman woken up and reinvigorated, removing the precise bombing we’ve all become so familiar with and leaving a noisy, messy, and fun alternative behind for us to play instead. This Bomberman, with its fabulously chunky character models and vibrant landscapes to blow up, is the Bomberman I’ve been waiting for – and it was hiding in plain sight on my favourite console all along!