Bomberman: Act Zero

Bomberman: Act Zero Review

You've changed, Bomberman

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing an Xbox 360 on

ESRB Teen rating

Bomberman has been a staple in the gaming industry for decades with countless installments of playful multiplayer fun. However, when you take the light-heartedness out of the equation and replace it with a dark and serious setting, the result is quite unsettling.

Bomberman: Act Zero screenshot 1
First-Person Bomber mode is neither first-person nor Bomberman

As most gamers know, Bomberman is played by running around and placing bombs that explode in a cross shape after a few seconds. The last player standing wins the match. It's simple and has worked since Bomberman's debut. This gameplay remains intact in Act Zero which is good. The controls are tight, too. But, this isn't enough to make this game worth picking up.

The setting in Act Zero is post-apocalyptic where people battle underground until they reach the surface. The combatants all look the same with the exception of colour and that some are male and some are female. They look like creepy sadomasochistic cyborgs and not like Bomberman at all. The stages are composed of rusted metal and drabness. If there's one word to describe the graphics in Act Zero it's depressing. Although most objects are easily distinguishable, it's hard to see the combatants as the only part that stands out about them are the arrows above their heads. The music tries to sound badass with its grunge guitars and rave undertones but ends up sounding generic and obnoxious. This is another huge departure as previous Bomberman games have fun and catchy music.

Bomberman: Act Zero screenshot 2
Standard mode makes the game feel more like Bomberman

There are only a couple of modes in Act Zero; World Battle which is online for 2 to 8 players (good luck trying to find anyone to play this with) and Single Battle which is a single player mode that can be played in either First-Person Bomber or Standard modes. First-Person Bomber mode makes no sense at all since it's not first-person. The camera is positioned away from the combatant and the player is given control over the camera. Playing the game in this mode makes the game much more difficult and to make up for this, the player is given a health meter. Psychologists are still trying to understand why anyone would prefer to play Bomberman in this perspective. Standard mode is played with a bird's-eye view and is what Bomberman connoisseurs are used to. This makes the game much easier as you can see the entire stage. That being said, combatants do not have health meters in this mode so one hit and they're toast.

Considering the online mode for Act Zero is pretty much dead now, Single Battle is your only option. No matter what mode Single Battle is played in, the premise remains the same. The player must survive through 99 consecutive stages while battling computer-controlled combatants who are basically the same as you. This is a departure from previous Bomberman games where you battle different creatures that have their own traits. If you die then the game is over and you have to start from the beginning again. Some replay value is added with 5 secret panels to collect. These take the form of some Hudson characters from games like Lode Runner, Adventure Island, and Happy Face Popper and are somewhat fun to discover.

That's about all there is in this game. There's no local multiplayer which is unacceptable for a Bomberman game. You can create your own character but you're only given the option between male and female and 8 different colour schemes.

Bomberman: Act Zero screenshot 3
Even though you win, you still feel like you lose

Bomberman: Act Zero is a game that appeals to no one. Fans of Bomberman have dozens of much better alternatives and those new to Bomberman would be put off of the series by playing this game. It's depressing to see one of gaming's cheerful colourful characters turn to the dark side for no reason at all.

  • + Classic Bomberman gameplay with decent controls
  • - Bomberman takes a dark and serious turn for no reason whatsoever
  • - Barely any modes or content
  • - Bland graphics and generic/obnoxious music
3.8 out of 10
Gameplay video for Bomberman: Act Zero 1:14

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