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Can Nintendo Online Resurrect Bomberman Hero?

Yet another entry in the mascot 3D platformer genre worthy of a revisit

Maybe I’m just out of the loop, but when I planned on watching the Nintendo Direct on September 23 I assumed it’d be a letdown. Lately, I haven’t played my Switch much at all. I’ve increasingly found myself passing on Nintendo’s brand of portable convenience. Mario Golf: Super Rush was fairly uninspired in my estimation, and New Pokemon Snap had me yearning for the musically diverse soundtrack of the prequel. I even tried going back to Astral Chain, only to drop in favor of a revisit to Uncharted: Lost Legacy.

Simply put, I haven’t been wowed by Nintendo in what feels like ages. Possibly not since Super Mario Odyssey.

Source: Reddit.

The September 2021 Nintendo Direct changed my tune, however, sprinkling in a number of hype-driving trailers that reeled me back into Nintendo’s ecosystem. Bayonetta 3 and Kirby and the Forgotten Land are no-brainer day one purchases, but so are Shin Megami Tensei V and the newest Super Smash Bros. Ultimate character.

Most surprisingly, Nintendo finally acquiesced to ever-vocal retro game fans, announcing a new tier of its online service that provides a collection of Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games. Among the titles are staples like the formerly stashed Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and cult-classic shoot-em-up Gunstar Heroes.

Naturally, after glancing at my Sega Genesis Classic, my first thoughts were, “It’s about time. I needed another way to play Sonic the Hedgehog 2!” What followed was a glaring realization: we could see the return of Bomberman Hero on Nintendo Switch Online.

Screen from Bomberman Hero. Source: IGDB.

In 1997, Bomberman was one of many mascot characters who made the leap into 3D platforming. Bomberman 64 attempted to establish the titular character’s frantic, pyrokinetic hurling ways in colorful collect-a-thon akin to Mario 64. The game earned little critical praise while spawning the sequel Bomberman Hero. The follow-up game featured more traditional platform mechanics — unlike the first game, Bomberman could jump, and could transform into a submarine to explore underwater levels.

Bomberman Hero was hardly a genre-defining game but was undoubtedly helped along by its soundtrack. Produced by series composer Jun Chikuma, Bomberman Hero was a crash course in her musical fascination at the time — drum and bass.

As the name implies, D&B relies heavily on the use of frenetic breakbeats atop pummeling bass lines. An outgrowth of jungle music of the early 1990s, drum and bass ran parallel to other electronic genres at the time and helped characterize a growing cultural fascination with technology. Where disco twenty years prior borrowed from organic soul melodies to make infectiously groovy tunes, drum and bass adapted four on the floor dance beats to digitally produce sounds.

Chikuma’s compositions played nicely with Bomberman Hero’s hyper mechanical setting. Conveyor belts and rotary platforms abound in the game, departing from the more naturalistic settings of fellow 3D platformers like Donkey Kong 64 and Crash Bandicoot. “Redial” sits among my favorite tracks, with the simple synth melody reflecting Bomberman’s cheerful, carefree attitude.

Then there are tracks like “Milky,” which push the soundtrack beyond Chikuma’s drum and bass fascination. “Milky” is a Bossanova remix of “Zip,” which in turn tones down the overt drum lines in favor of ethereal synths that trade bars with heavenly taps from a vibraphone.

Soundtrack aside, Bomberman has an apparently positive relationship with Nintendo, as Super Bomberman R was a launch title for the Nintendo Switch. Likewise, his undeniable ability to generate nostalgia has seen the expressionless dynamo featured in dozens of games since his inception in 1983. So it seems fitting to welcome a Bomberman Hero re-release on Nintendo’s newest hardware, bringing another generation into the Bomberman fan club.

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Brandon Johnson

Brandon Johnson

Forever hunting for my new favorite music sample. Founder of tripleot.com & abrandbox.com. 🌴🦩

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