Friday, October 8, 2010

Bomboy [轟炸小子 - Explosion Kid] (Sega Genesis/Mega Drive)

  The year is 1993. The super-popular strategy game series Bomberman has released possibly its biggest installment ever: Super Bomberman. Gamtec of Taiwan noticed this game’s popularity and that Sega Genesis (Mega Drive to everyone else) was missing out on the action. Mega Bomberman was only released in the U.S. and Europe, while Japan got the Turbografx (PC-Engine) version called Bomberman ’94. Mega Bomberman wasn’t released for another year, mind you, and Japan missed out on the Sega installment, so it was the perfect game to score in on. Three of their staff members pulled together and released Bomboy [轟炸小子 – Explosion Kid].

  Bomboy, as you can probably guess, is based off of Super Bomberman. The game plays like Super Bomberman’s story mode does: you travel to different “worlds” and cleared all of its stages by defeating every enemy in that stage. There’s 10 worlds to travel to, which ranges from typical places like ice worlds and a haunted mansion, to more interesting worlds like one with gold “? Blocks” and mushrooms (Mario reference, most likely) to one with cows (moo!). Seeing their eyes bug out when you blow them up is priceless.
  The graphics, especially the portraits for things like the ending, are what you expect from Gamtec: relatively simple in design and style, yet nicely drawn out. It’s kinda like a budget Ken Shugimori look (Ken Shugimori is Game Freak’s character designer/artist who did Pulseman, Mendel Palace and the Pokemon titles, to name a few.) The in-game graphics do resemble Super Bomberman’s in-game graphics, with a pseudo-3D (whatever you would call it) feel to it. Nothing fancy, but it works very well in its own right.
  The music doesn’t compare to Super Bomberman, but it’s still pretty good. I know it seems kinda unfair to keep comparing this game to Super Bomberman (and I am judging it in its own right) but it’s obvious Gamtec wanted a Bomberman game and didn’t hide it, so I’m judging it by both. The music sounds similar to Gamtec’s other games, like Magic Girl and Adventurous Boy. The sound engine used seems to be based off of a Sunsoft title called Shi Kin Jou (it even steals sound effects from it!) but like Vast Fame with the Rockman World 5 sound engine, they actually composed some great music with it. The music is mostly upbeat and is fun to listen to while you play.
  The controls work very well. Though it’s not like a normal Bomberman game where you move pixel-by-pixel rather than tile-by-tile, it’s functional enough. I encountered no problems with controller responses, and the bombs work and explode like the official title. It’s better than the NES Bomberman game, at least.
  Gameplay is the biggest downfall to this otherwise excellent game, and basically where I’ll be listing the Cons. First off, there’s no Battle Mode. One of the biggest things about Super Bomberman was the multiplayer mode. Hell, they even bundled a Multi-Tap with some copies of the game! I know this was the first Bomberman game with real multiplayer (Bomberman II had it as well, but this was the first big multiplayer mode) but they should’ve known that this was important, seeing as they knew a lot about Super Bomberman to begin with.
  The other problem is the level design. Instead of a grid-pattern to the level like almost every other Bomberman game made, they instead have hard blocks scattered in random patterns. Sometimes they’ll form a small “room” in one portion of a stage and in another there’s none, leaving you with a huge, empty space for enemies to waltz around in. The same goes for some of the soft blocks, though they still do their job properly. It’s a pain to attack enemies when they can just sidestep to avoid death. Anyone who’s played Bomberman Quest or Bomberman Tournament’s over world can relate to this.
  Lastly, the enemies move in random-as-hell patterns. Normally in Bomberman, an enemy would move in a straight line, only changing directions when they hit an obstacle, with the occasional exception in some games that they change direction when you’re in sight or something. Hell, even the first Bomberman for the NES was more tolerable. But here they sometimes move back and forth on two tiles, or they just beeline around without any sense of direction. Try killing an enemy with random movement in open space with weak firepower (especially after you die, since your firepower starts back at one when you lose a life.) Also, if they happen to be trapped between a bomb’s explosion and a wall, they’ll actually pause to avoid walking into the fire. Worse are some enemies later on that will move through everything, even hard blocks, and chase you if you’re close to them…At various speeds, no less. This is very bad when you first start a stage and have no room to move. Combine this with the previous problems, and you’ll be definitely sure to jot down the passwords for each level.
  Overall? It’s very frustrating to play, namely in the later levels, but it’s still not too bad. For a game made by three people, it’s pretty impressive, though you don’t need more than one person to realize that the enemy and level designs are a bad idea. It’s much like Mendel Palace in the fact that it’s very hard and not too fun to play alone, but it’s fun with a friend. Great audio, visuals, and controls, but bad design. As long as you have a friend and aren’t too serious, it’s a nice title.




Last Level & Ending

Thanks to “pirateman” for finding this game.


  1. Ooh! Good catch on Shi Kin Jou. I'd been wondering what this sound engine was stolen from.

    Based on what dates I've seen in their games, I guess they used this one first, then Wonder Boy III, and then High Seas Havoc.

  2. Oh, yeah, and Hanmin Liao (or as he's romanized in Bomboy's credits, "Hanmin Lu") did sound programming on all three of the above-mentioned sound engines. (Squirrel King in the case of Wonder Boy, and Conquering The World 3 in the case of Havoc.) On top of that, he also did the music in Gowin's Fire Dragon for GB!

    Wouldn't surprise me at all if he did some work for Vast Fame, too, particularly given the vague connections between Gamtec, VFame and Gowin. He obviously had some skill at reverse-engineering sound drivers, anyway. :)