Developed by: Hudson Soft
Published by: Nintendo
Feeling Like: Reaching great (Queen Anne) Heights
Did you have a friend growing up whose house you couldn’t wait to visit? I did. I had many incredible pals, it’s not hard to reach back and find a place that inherently brings a smile to my face. Their parents were patient and welcoming, all of them. They all somehow made delicious food that was the same as the stuff I ate at home, but totally different. They all had garages, bedrooms, living rooms, bathrooms. But not all are created equal.
It was always an event visiting Kasim and Aslam’s house. It was the absolute, unquestioned, supreme location for hide and seek, or sardines. Their mother’s homemade pizza was legendary. Each floor had its own personality, ranging from comfortable and quiet, to comfortable and full of Doctor Who VHS tapes. They eventually migrated their video game consoles from the basement to the top floor, and that’s where we mowed through Bomberman 64.
By we, I mean Aslam. Despite him being two years younger than Kasim and myself, he was beyond his years and fully more talented than either of us when it came to video games. There’s no way I would have been able to collect all the gold cards and defeat the Rainbow Palace, but it was just as fun watching, coaching, suggesting and screaming.
We were a special trio. The three of us played cricket together for years and would often comment on the game we were all playing together, still on the pause screen back home, instead of focusing on being in the right position on the field. We never grieved a loss to the visiting Vancouver side for long; none of us were especially good athletes, but we were all especially good at loving video games.
I like the juxtaposition of the Bomberman universe. Much like today, in the 90s you’d see a real mix of heroes that used guns, or bombs as weapons. Some embraced the violent nature, others would take advantage of a more cartoonish universe for a kinder touch. Bomberman fully lives in a light-hearted environment, with pleasant songs, colorful graphics and about as little violence as possible considering your only weapon is a variety of explosives.
The design of the characters is amazing. Aside from Bomberman himself, who looks a little wimpy, everybody else looks like a junior robot anime warrior, complete with angular eyes, jetpacks, and tons of attitude. It’s one of the only games I’ve played (or watched Aslam play) where I wanted to be anybody BUT the protagonist.
The campaign had enough secrets and story beats to make it worthy enough to pry our temporary attention away from multiplayer. But we always, ALWAYS went back to multiplayer, the Bomberman staple.
It was slower than Super Bomberman, but that was true of nearly all N64 games compared to their Super Nintendo counterparts. You’ll have to forgive the hardware, it was the first true foray into a third dimension. Speed and framerate wasn’t on anybody’s minds, only the fact that there was now a Z-axis, and the possibilities for tossing bombs onto our friends heads in a diagnoal trajectory was too much to pass up.
Continuing the trend of assuring parents that IEDs were perfectly suitable for kids, all voiced sound clips eminating from our monochromatic Bombermen are overly childish “OWs!” and “YAH’S!” Aside from this audiotory annoyance, we loved it. Bombs could be placed quickly and kicked or thrown with no delay. If you felt daring, you could mash the A button and cultivate it to a devastating size. Remote bombs could be triggered, and kicked bombs could be stopped at any moment, there really was quite a bit of skill involved. If we were all too inept to annhilate each other within the time limit, envorinmental dangers started to speed things up.
I’m tempted to give Super Bomberman R a try, the series’ newest entry, but I know I can’t go back. The Bomberman franchise holds a special, if small, place in my gaming heart. If not for the impossibly bright attic of the Husain house, the instant feeling of belonging, the historical hang outs, birthday parties, Mega Man marathons and endless summer sleepovers, Bomberman 64 would be just another game I meant to try, but didn’t. Thankfully, it’s not.