In his first N64 adventure, Bomberman finally broke free of the grid arena and got to explore the world in full 3D – a first for the series!
Bomberman’s transition to 3D wasn’t as masterful as Mario’s, but it worked – from a single-player perspective at least (although purists will likely disagree). Whereas traditional Bomberman games are all about strategically trapping and blowing up enemies, Bomberman 64 focuses more on exploration, light puzzle-solving and even platforming.
The platforming element is particularly noteworthy because Bomberman can’t actually jump in this game. Instead, you have to line up his bombs a bit like stepping stones and bounce across them. Thankfully, this isn’t something you have to rely on an awful lot, unless you want to find all of the game’s secrets. This is just as well, as it can be a bit tricky for novice players to pull off.
In this game there are five different worlds to explore, each with its own theme and four stages. Usually, the first and third world involve exploring and finding the exit, whereas the second and fourth stages are boss encounters. Bomberman can move freely in 3D for the first time. He can kick, pick up, throw and “pump” bombs (make them into larger, more powerful bombs) without the need for power-ups. However, you will still need to find items to increase the explosive range of his bombs and how many he can place simultaneously.
The multiplayer mode uses the same gameplay style, which arguably doesn’t work in its favour. This is because the maps are usually open (unlike the grid layouts found in older Bomberman games), making it difficult to trap enemy players a lot of the time.
Bomberman 64 was the first of four Bomberman N64 games. Bomberman Hero, which was the next game to be released after Bomberman 64, is not a direct sequel. However, Bomberman 64: The Second Attack, which was released in 2000, is a continuation of Bomberman 64’s story. To make things even more confusing, Hudson Soft released the Japanese-exclusive Bomberman 64 (known informally as Bomberman 64: Arcade Edition outside of Japan; the 1997 Bomberman 64 was known as Baku Bomberman in Japan). Aside from the eponymous hero, these games are completely different.