Amazing Bomberman is fun nostalgia dipped in a chaotic mess of lo-fi aesthetics
Last Thursday, Konami announced that its latest Bomberman title would launch exclusively on Apple Arcade the following day. The game, titled Amazing Bomberman, was shown off with a 30-second trailer that feels and sounds like a person swiping through the Dance Dance Revolution song menu at the arcade.
After seeing it, I thought, I might actually be one more strange, different Bomberman game? They are getting a Rhythm Bomberman? Could this be the new game that catapults Apple Arcade into the spotlight?
No, no, and probably not. But that’s okay. I’m still having fun with it.
We were very excited when Amazing Bomberman was announced. It’s a charming game that takes the classic gameplay of the Bomberman series and updates it with a combination of low-fidelity and music game aesthetics. Konami took the original Bomberman formula, added online play for four-player matches, and threw in a killer soundtrack to relaunch it as an Apple Arcade exclusive. While it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of gameplay, it’s still a very fun game.
While Amazing Bomberman relies heavily on music, it’s (sadly) not a rhythm game. After the teaser trailer dropped, I imagined that Konami made a Bomberman where you would get points and rewards for dropping bombs to the beat, kind of like Crypt of the NecroDancer. I was wrong. Instead, music affects every stage.
Songs come with unique rules and rhythms. Elements and blocks fall from the sky to the beat of the song. The more upbeat and exciting a song is, the more chaotic a scene feels. Opaque music video background pulses and theme flourishes accentuate the screen to match the cadence and fury of a track. It gets hard to watch with all the chaos in each level, although some songs can be smooth.
Chaotic, shocking and confusing, but still fun
Adding to the explosions of color and chaos on the screen are mildly frustrating controls. The touch screen analog used for movement doesn’t register your finger well enough if it slides too far from its starting point. This can cause players to crash into walls and sometimes even the bombs you just placed, which of course kills you. When playing online, you’ll often see other people tripping over walls and spinning in place as they try to reorient themselves into their positions. But this also makes playing online a little dumber than it should be. Unfair, sure, but still a good time with some amazing music.
Speaking of which, every song featured in Amazing Bomberman is insane. The game has eight stages/songs to choose from, and the development team managed to get seven originals for the game’s release. This includes the bubble and bounce “Bomb, Bom, Blow ‘Em All!” from chiptune trio YMCK, and TESSEI TOJO’s EDM, “Amazing Bomberman.”
It’s easy to excuse a slightly lackluster game when Amazing Bomberman has good art direction and aesthetics. This game feels the closest to Tetris Effect in that way. It’s a legacy title that’s been revamped for a new era, but lacks the heart and innovation of the older titles. (For the record: Tetric Effect rules.)
Their art assets are gorgeous and almost remind me of the amazing fan art you can sometimes find while scrolling through Tumblr, or dare I say, DeviantArt. The game uses a lot of muted colors and cool blues to convey very cold weather, but it’s oddly juxtaposed with chaotic gameplay and loud music.
Just look at the image of the game’s title screen:
The background and loading music sounds very inspired by those lo-fi 24/7 study/chill out radio station beats you can find on YouTube. It’s a calming presence that’s almost at war with its blippy and often booming EDM sound design.
It’s a classic explosion
Still, for all its flaws, I’m glad that Amazing Bomberman is on Apple Arcade and that we have such a basic version of Bomberman to play online. The garish aesthetic may not be for everyone, but with headphones and in the right settings, it can be blissful sensory overload.
Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the franchise (!!!) and in some ways it feels like a prequel to things to come from Konami’s proposed celebration. Hopefully, we’ll see an update and some additional content for Amazing Bomberman that fixes some of its issues and adds more depth to this fast-paced title.