Arcade Archives features an epic lineup of classic and obscure games and I bet you've never played the ridiculous Saboten Bombers.
Saboten Bombers is an arcade game that was exclusively in Japan and this Arcade Archives release officially marks its debut on consoles as well as in the west. For the unfamiliar, you basically play as a cactus who comes to life and it's your job to clear out screens of enemies before advancing to the next stage. It's a single-screen experience similar to Bubble Bobble or the more recent Rod Land although the gameplay here is much more frantic and fast-paced. All you essentially do is run around, jump, and throw bombs which makes playing it rather intuitive. The thing with these bombs is that they keep rolling and pick up enemies as they go and you can get caught up in it yourself so you better be cautious and jump out of it before it explodes! It's silly stuff that's undeniably and charmingly old-school.
Aside from jumping through stages while trying to blow up all of the enemies, you'll also battle an opponent every handful of levels which makes for a nice change of pace. Considering you can play cooperatively with a friend, these battle rounds turn the co-op gameplay into a competitive combat setup which is great fun. Anyway, you'll also face bosses every once in a while although they're not all that exciting or rewarding to take down. I much prefer the regular stages to the boss fights; they're just so flat and uninteresting.
As you play Saboten Bombers, you'll amass a collection of fruits and vegetables that give you extra points and if you manage to get 1 of every variety, you'll receive a substantial bonus. There are also cake pieces that reward extra lives whenever you get 8, an invincibility flower, bomb power-ups, screen-clearing pick-ups, score multipliers, and speed boosts. In fact, there are so many collectibles that it'll make your head spin. However, all you really need to do is focus on the gameplay while collecting whatever you're able to.
I should definitely discuss Saboten Bombers' absolutely ridiculous visuals which are based on the premise that you're a house cactus that's protecting your owner's home from baddies which range from different insects to vegetation. The enemies are very silly and cute although the cacti are quite generic-looking albeit with smooth and appealing animations. The backgrounds are pretty silly, too, as you'll come across scenes from within and around the house as well as a few strange surprises. It's one hodgepodge of goofiness.
With all of that being said, Saboten Bombers must be one of the most visually chaotic games that I've ever played. Not only can you get swept up in a rolling bomb but you might not even realise it due to the intricate backgrounds, flashy explosions, and general graphical chaos that's almost always on display. This makes playing it with a friend even more confusing although it's still more enjoyable to do so. Another major issue with Saboten Bombers is that most of its fun factor relies on the novelty of it all which actually wears thin after playing it for a short while and once it does, you'll realise that it's not as good as many similar and more complex arcade classics.
Saboten Bombers is a quirky arcade hidden gem that anyone with an affinity for retro gaming should play. It may not be as good as similar games such as Rod Land or Snow Bros. but it's still a worthwhile offering.
- + Frantic gameplay with an absurd premise and intuitive controls
- + Crazy backgrounds and goofy enemies
- + You can play cooperatively with a chum
- - Gameplay can be a bit too hectic at times which makes it difficult to follow
- - After the novelty inevitably wears thin, it's really not that much fun