Bomberman Quest – Review
- Disclaimer and introduction to the review
- The review itself
This is my second playthrough of Bomberman Quest, though the first playthrough was a long while ago so most of my playthrough felt fresh. I am very familiar with the series, so I can use that knowledge to better point out the strengths and weaknesses of this game. Before I started writing this review, I made sure to complete the entire game. The game is only available on the Gameboy Colour and has unfortunately never seen a re-release. This review will not be covering the ”battle” mode because it’s a multiplayer mode, and I am not able to play that. I believe it even requires the Super Game Boy 2 and also two SNES consoles? What a bunch of sadists.
Here’s some music to listen to while you read the review! Overall a pretty solid soundtrack; not necessarily any outstanding pieces, but a good selection still.
Remember when we were talking about a 2D Bomberman Platformer last time? Pepperidge farm remembers. And today we’re talking about the game that followed which is completely different! This is a game I have very fond memories about, because its gameplay is in several ways similar to Adventure games such as The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. Given how much I enjoy both Bomberman and the inspirations, it comes as no surprise that I immediately bought the game when I heard about it. If my memory serves me right, that was about 3 years ago due to this game not being that well-known. Though then again, that probably applies to all of the Bomberman games on handheld devices. It has been a lot of years since my initial playthrough though, so I am definitely curious how well this game holds up now that I’m taking a slightly more critical look at it!
Also, no history and trivia in this review unfortunately as I could find nothing regarding development. I could make up a story like how the developers of Link’s Awakening and Bomberman met in an elevator while playing each other’s game and were like ”WOW, WANNA DO A FUSION-HA DANCE??”, but that would be lying. I don’t do lying on here.
The game starts with a cutscene, where our happy protagonist returns from a journey to capture some monsters and lock them up. But of course, disaster strikes. He loses all of his captured monsters due to a mysterious attack, and now it’s time to catch ’em all again and become the very best like no one ever was! Oh wait, wrong game.
Apparently these 48 monsters are so powerful that they throw an entire planet into chaos, even though most of them are some of Bomberman’s weakest adversaries such as Ballom and literal animals. If there was a planet that would get a medal for ”most easy to be conquered”, this unnamed planet would definitely deserve it.
Bomberman makes a crash landing, so now we can control him and… he’s so slooooooow. Like for real, he moves at a literal snail’s pace. Mind you, Bomberman’s walking speed can be increased later on in the game, but he shouldn’t be this slow in the first place if you ask me. But I’ll come back to all the upgrades and items at a later point because that part requires a dedicated section.
Bomberman’s walking speed can be increased later on in the game, but he shouldn’t be this slow in the first place if you ask me.
Putting that aside, the adventure can start now. The map of Bomberman Quest is split up into separate squares, which is common for most Nintendo Game Boy games. The easiest comparison here is The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, with which Bomberman Quest does share more than a few similarities. The map is definitely easier to navigate though, with the actual minimap directly showing all minimized squares on there. You can’t really do anything on the map like zoom in, but it was easy to see where I wanted to go or what I’ve already done.
The first enemy is waiting for you just a bit to the left of town, and it’s the before-mentioned Ballom! What’s funny about every monster you encounter, is that you have a short dialogue with them before fighting. The dialogue can get… really stupid. Like really, really stupid as shown in the picture down below. But it does add to the charm and also gives every individual monster their own personality. Several monsters are exclusive to this game, and there was a lot of love and care put into them.
We didn’t come here for talking though, so time to capture the monster by… blowing it up with a bomb! We are playing Bomberman after all, so this shouldn’t be too shocking. And just like Pocket Bomberman that we covered with a review last time, the game at its core plays exactly how you expect it to: you drop one or multiple bombs that have a specific reach, and pray to God that the enemies are dumb enough to walk into the blast radius. This can be a bit annoying due to the spaces being open and the enemies not following a specific pattern, but this will become easier over time the more bombs and firepower you have. Definitely sucks for the first few enemies though.
I already mentioned how every enemy has their own personality, but it doesn’t stop there. While the earliest enemies mostly just move around, all enemies after start developing their own strategies and attacks. Some easy examples would be the mole that digs underground and needs to be stunned, or the Jackenboxx that is invulnerable until you break his pot by throwing him around. Huh, another Link’s Awakening reference, neat. But every single enemy does become a fun- and different fight which I definitely enjoy.
Defeating an enemy adds a new item to Bomberman’s arsenal–a very big arsenal to be precise. There are a lot of different bombs to create, and there’s also a lot of old- and new items. Bomberman can move faster, kick- or throw bombs and even fly for a short period of time! You’ll notice quickly how the game is designed, as items aren’t made exclusively to help you in combat. You’re going to need the jump boots- or wings to cross pits, and the tree enemy you come across early on can’t be defeated with your normal bombs. I have no idea why since it’s a tree but hey, apparently trees have become invulnerable to bomb blasts. We could use that over here on planet Earth; would save the climate for sure.
As you can imagine, this results in a lot of backtracking to previous places when you get an item- or weapon that allows you to proceed and get new items, which continues the cycle. Some people might not be a fan of this system–especially since there are no hints given on where you should go next–but I personally love it because it tests my memory of the map. Not only that, but this makes every playthrough feel different from each other. Once you get the jump boots for example, you can either go back to the first area or just continue, finding new items in both places that allow you to visit new places yet again. It’s a rewarding experience, especially due to solutions to enemies- or obstacles aren’t always as straightforward as you’d expect.
Once you get the jump boots for example, you can either go back to the first area or just continue, finding new items in both places that allow you to visit new places yet again.
What I don’t love however, are technical limitations. Surprise surprise, I don’t think anyone does. But let’s take Link’s Awakening as an example again. Due to the Gameboy only having two buttons, you could only wield two items at a time, with one slot almost always being reserved for the sword. Going to the menu and constantly switching items was something that couldn’t be avoided, but it wasn’t exactly fun. So what did Bomberman Quest do? Amplify the problem of course!
Bomberman Quest has a serious amount of items. There are 16 bombs, a lot of items and to top it off, equipable gear. You’ll be spending a lot of time in the menu, constantly switching items that you need for one screen to then switch it again at the next screen. For a lack of better terms, it’s a chore–a chore that I felt could have been made less if some power-ups were permanent. Smart readers remember that I mentioned how slow Bomberman is and, to make him faster, you need to use the boots item in one of the two precious item slots, or use it as equipment meaning that you can’t use any other accessories in the meantime. I fail to understand the reason why this speed upgrade was not permanent, especially considering there is an item that slows Bomberman down if desired. I don’t know why because he is genuinely slower than Sonic in Sonic Labyrinth with the item, but I digress.
Bosses are yet again a hit-or-miss. This time around though, Bomberman has a health bar now so he won’t die in one hit$im . On a related note, I would have liked that going back to the save point would restore your health bar completely but that is unfortunately not the case, so you have to manually refill it yourself each time by killing previously captured monsters and using their health pick-up. Nitpick aside, back to the bosses. They have the tendency to be very easy like the first boss who keeps damaging herself, or very difficult like the third boss who has completely free movement in the air while throwing homing bombs towards you. The balance is pretty much nonexistent. I wouldn’t really mind this as much if you didn’t get a game-over after a defeat… meaning you have to travel to the dungeon again and do it all over again, item switching between screens included.
What I actually didn’t know in my initial playthrough, is that there is a special surprise waiting for you once you revisit the boss rooms. Not only that, but I also learned how many items there are hidden all throughout the world with the spectacle and spade items. No way in hell would I have found out the latter since I have better things to do than dig every hole on the map, but it does show that the game has much more to offer than initially expected. It definitely would have been better if there was a hint system or a treasure map or something though, but all items gained from the spectacle and spade are completely optional.
This game is right up my alley. I absolutely love exploring everything on the map, capturing all monsters and using the items they drop to explore even more of the map. There are a ton of secrets, and an especially large arsenal of items that both function for exploration and combat itself. Combat feels good overall, though it does get a slightly rough start due to the arenas being open and enemies having mostly free movement. My compliments are also definitely reserved for the amount of charm the game has, with every monster having unique dialogue and attacks. However, Bomberman Quest has one fatal problem: technical limitations. Due to the big arsenal Bomberman has, you’ll be spending quite a lot of time in the menu to switch items, just to switch it again on the next screen. No upgrade aside from the bombs is ever permanent, so this will keep being a problem throughout the entire game. And though I personally didn’t mind it, there are little to no hints when you’re stuck. Neither of these issues makes the core game worse, but they’re definitely annoyances that probably could have been dealt with better.
Final Score: 8.0/10
Thank you for reading! Man, could you imagine this game being made in the current day and age? Konami aside, this truly is a product of its time that we don’t see happen much anymore. I would love for this game to have a remake on a modern platform, with no technical limitations whatsoever. I’ll be the first person to buy that game, mark my words.
Only one more game is left, so join me next time as we take a look at Bomberman Max: Blue Champion and Red Challenger!
The first answer that popped up in my mind was Kid Icarus Uprising which is a great game, but it had clear limitations to the point that an extra add-on was developed just to make it more manageable. I definitely think it could benefit from a remaster on a different console.