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July 18, 2005
Bomberman Hardball - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
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The tennis mini-game.
It has been some time since we've played a Bomberman title. Indeed we first fell in love with the series way back in the Super Nintendo days, but haven't played a game since the Dreamcast era. Now, Bomberman is returning to the Playstation 2 in the guise of Bomberman Hardball. In all there have been five Bomberman titles released on the PS2, but most of them have been confined to Japan except for Bomberman Kart which was released through Atari a couple of years ago. This game was actually released as Bomberman Battles in Japan in October last year, and Ubisoft have picked up the rights to distribute it in America and Europe - bless their little hearts.

What first surprises is that this game is actually split up into five main sections - Bomberman Tennis, Bomberman Golf, Bomberman Baseball, Bomberman Battle which is your traditional game and Bomberman Life - an addition which is somewhat questionable to say the least.

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Ahhh, classic Bomberman.
So let's look at the sports games first. Tennis, Golf and Baseball are all remarkably playable games - certainly more so then we were expecting. Yes, they are simplified, and the gameplay will never match those in dedicated titles, however there's more then enough entertainment here to keep you playing for some time. The only game that caused us some headaches was tennis - the CPU player always seemed to be able to get to the ball much easier then us. Still, with a lot more practice could probably overcome this. As you would expect Tennis and Golf both support up to 4-players while Baseball only supports two and each mode allows for configuration of the type of game or tournament being played.

The meat of Bomberman Hardball is the Bomberman Battle mode. This presents your classic Bomberman top-down styled action. The idea of Bomberman is quite simple. The game pits 4 players in a small arena. Your task is to drop bombs destroying destructable blocks and eventually blowing up the other three opponents. It's fast, frantic and among the most exciting gameplay ever seen in a video game. While playing CPU opponents is great fun its when you hook up a multi-tap that this game really shines. It's tremendous fun, and almost certainly one of the best 4-player games ever.

One area of the game which really had us bemused was Bomberman Life. Essentially this mode, which we though would allow you to follow the life of a character and enter him or her into tournaments, is nothing more then a way to change the look and options of your bomberman. Via a remote control you can watch tennis, golf and baseball games but not participate. Likewise you can't even enter the Bomberman Battles, but can only watch them. Why this mode was even included is well, confusing.

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The Bomberman Golf game.
No doubt in part due to the impressively powerful Renderware engine the graphics in Bomberman Hardball run at a fair pace with no slowdown. The three sports games do look fairly plain. Like the gameplay don't expect anything approaching EA's sports titles. Fortunately the main Bomberman battle arenas are a lot more impressive. The explosions look spectacular and the game is always clear and well defined.

Sound in the game is sadly pretty standard stuff. In fact the game is dominated by some very basic sounds which don't seem to have improved much in years and the music sound like it has been taken from a very early 1990's Japanese video game - it's annoyingly cute if that makes sense.

Bomberman Hardball is such a strange title. We got no enjoyment from the Bomberman Life mode at all - it was pointless and, well, pointless. Fortunately the sports gamess are fairly good but it was the Battle section which makes this game so awesome - especially in multi-player. If you have a lot of friends over this game is a must have for you collection as it is just as enjoyable as other multi-player gems such as Sing Star and Ratchet & Clank.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Games Warehouse (PAL Version)
GRAPHICSNeat and colourful - just what you expect from Bomberman.
SOUNDQuite average music and effects, certainly not the PS2's best.
GAMEPLAYThis is classic Bomberman. In multi-player there's no comparison.
VALUEReleased at a budget price - multi-player fans should pick it up.
OVERALLBomberman Hardball is a good game in single player, in multi-player it verges on brilliant. Released at a budget price this game is worth tracking down, but be quick it will be pretty limited in numbers.

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