When it comes to co-op games, especially classic games, nothing really tops Super Bomberman, the Super Nintendo four-player classic from Adventure Island maker Hudson Soft. Released in 1993, Super Bomberman was one of the first games to take advantage of the SNES multitap peripheral that allowed for four-player games. Of course, few of us had the resources to take advantage of such a setup but for those of us that did Super Bomberman is not only the quintessential multitap experience but also stands today as an example of a high-quality strategy game that you can play against other people.
And that’s no shock – the people over at Hudson Soft are often noted for their prowess when it comes to games. After all, this is also the outfit that brought us that lovable pink ball of fluff we call Kirby.
Taking place on a single, non-scrolling screen with a maze like setup, the premise of Super Bomberman is quite simple. Moving your bomberman around the grid, you strategically place bombs to take obstacles and opponents, using the pattern of the explosion to predict and intercept the movement of your opponents. True masters of Super Bomberman unleash chain reactions which can clear much of the board in one move. How this is done is that the explosion of one bomb sets off another bombs an so on. If the flame from any exploding bomb hits the player it will cause injury or death.
In some ways the stages are laid out in a fashion similar to the mazes in Pac Man and the flames act in a similar fashion to the ghosts. Of course, there are powerups that bomberman can collect while he’s moving around the stage, one of which makes him invincible. Some of the walls on the grid maze are “soft walls” that can be destroyed while other walls are fixed and cannot be removed. If you lay a bomb down you cannot go around it, making for situations in which you lay bombs to trap opponents but also potentially trap yourself at the same time.
As you can imagine, in a multiplayer scenario, this type of game is not only incredibly fun but also has the potential to end friendships with its antics. Super Bomberman almost rewards mastery as much as it does chance, making the game awesomely addictive but also adding a dash of difficulty and frustration that is often found in only the best video games. There are two main game modes, normal mode and battle mode, with the latter being specifically focused on the fight between multiple players or bombermen. In terms of mechanics, Super Bomberman is a case study in how to make a competitive puzzle game and as far as its graphics go it sports that unique, decidedly Hudson Soft aesthetic so common to many of their games and which ranks right up there with Nintendo in terms of recognizable video game art styles. An awesome game alone or with a crowd, Super Bomberman for the SNES was multiplayer online troll gaming at its best before we even knew what that was.