Bomberman DS
| Bomberman DS

In an age obsessed with special offers, the buy-one-get-one-free deal is king. First it was tins of beans at the supermarket, then CDs and DVDs on the high street and now it seems the concept has been extended to videogames! For with Bomberman DS, Hudson really has delivered double the value, providing you with two distinct games for the price of one - and two double-screen games at that.

In the story mode, you're Bomberman, the curious white-headed cartoony figure who's something of an explosives expert (well he can drop bombs and run away). Anyway, to cut a typically weird story short, your land has been disrupted...etc, etc... a magic crystal shattered... yada, yada... shards spread throughout the kingdom... blah, blah. The government and military appear powerless so the only way for you to put things right is by travelling through 10 themed worlds, exploring labyrinths and destroying all manner of weird creatures.

The basic gameplay is simple, you use the 4-way directional controls to guide your character around the 2D levels, pressing the fire button to lay explosives in such a way that they'll catch the baddies in the blast when they explode. Sounds easy doesn't it? But, when the explosions start kicking off and the time limit starts ticking down, the action gets plenty frantic.

Naturally, the monsters get progressively tougher to fight too, requiring more bombs as well as being more complicated - for example while the early blobs move in a straight line, later opponents can roam freely, fire projectiles at you, swallow bombs, hold up shields to protect themselves from bombs, or become bombs themselves. And it's not just baddies you'll be blasting either, as there's plenty of scenery that can be - and indeed will have to be - blown out of the way for you to progress.

To be honest though, the biggest threat on each map is always your bombs. In the early part of the game, you might even feel that the bomb isn't a bomberman's best friend after all. But keep playing and you'll be rewarded and start to get a feel for the timings of explosions and the number of bombs it's safe to lay. Then the real joy will be in discovering new enemies - taking on the huge supper monsters that appear at the 10th stage of each world - and most importantly getting the advanced toys.

Ahh yes the toys! You see destroying scenery not only clears your route to enemies, it also unveils a variety of special power-up items. These range from the simple improvements such as extra bombs, speed-ups and bigger blasts to the more intriguing equipment like mines or downright useful abilities such as being able to see through walls or become invulnerable.

And in a neat touch these add-ons are stored in your inventory on the DS' second touchscreen which you can select at any time. Hence, should you be facing certain death having trapped yourself in a corner, then you can quickly tap, say the fire-suit option, to survive. This adds more strategy to what is already a surprisingly tactical game, and considering levels are generated randomly, this ensures no two games will be the same. But should you tire of the challenge, there's multiplayer - always a key part of the Bomberman experience.

The battle mode pits you head-to-head against up to seven friends or computer-controlled bombermen. Although the nature of the levels, the power-ups and the plant-bomb-and-run-away action remains the same, multiplayer is a very different beast. In fact it's a bit like comparing a tabby with a tiger, because believe us the action is fierce!

While the tactical element remains as you try to outwit and trap your opponents, battle mode is a far more hectic affair. You start with the most basic skills, new power-ups are triggered immediately and this combined with the unpredictable nature of your opponents ensures you always have to be on your toes. While somewhat frustrating initially, the multiplayer version is extraordinarily addictive and with a vast selection of set-up options (specify maps, handicaps, teams, tournaments, and more) plus loads of variation amidst the 30-odd maps, will ensure Bomberman DS lights up both you and your friends lives.

Oh and you can also use the microphone to detonate bombs on certain maps, which like this sentence is sort of interesting, but ultimately a tad pointless!

Bomberman DS is on sale now.

Bomberman DS

A double dose of explosive action Bomberman DS is quite simply da bomb!
Chris James
Chris James
A footy game fanatic and experienced editor of numerous computing and game titles, bossman Chris is up for anything – including running Steel Media (the madman).