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'Bomberman Live' Preview (Xbox 360)


BombermanLive_CharArt_BmanWhiteI'm a huge Xbox 360 fan. If someone asked me which of the main three consoles to get, it would at this point in time always be an easy answer – the Xbox 360. However, when it comes to one thing about the 360 we've usually been against, it was the Xbox Live Arcade. Don't get us wrong, it's a good idea and there are some top-notch games, but most of the time it feels like nothing more than recycled games that should've been buried a long time ago. However, we've thrown down the table cloth, prepared our plate, and grabbed our knives and forks, because we've found a game to make us eat our words. Killer Betties was one of a handful of sites to get to see the new Bomberman Live for the 360's Xbox Live Arcade before it is set to release, and we can say right now that this is the definitive Live Arcade game. Heck, possibly the best Live game – period.

Bomberman isn't exactly a new franchise, as it has been around for many years, and besides one exception that we can think of, the little guy has pretty much stayed tried and true since the beginning. Bomberman has always had a big head, ran around, and dropped bombs hoping their destructive blasts killed someone else. The formula stays the same here, but oh is it oh so good. Hudson made it known that they want this to be the definitive Bomberman experience on the 360, and the last one you'd ever want for the system. Hudson expressed getting the game out there for a reasonable price, which seems to be 800 points at the current time. After spending hours with the game, 800 points is an easy price point and one you should definitely plunk some change down for without a second thought. Further plans include downloadable content, like possibly new levels or characters, which would be charged for a small fee by how it sounded. But still, should you never buy a single download packet, the game you will get is quite enough as it is.

BigTop_Normal_001If you wanted, you could play the game with your everyday, average, run-of-the-mill Bomberman, which you've probably seen throughout the years in countless games and spinoffs. However, who wants to be ordinary and simply one of the masses? Wouldn't you rather be a Bomberman who looks like a construction worker? Or what about a ballerina Bomberman in a pink tutu and chomping down on a cigar? Yeah, we figured as much. With Bomberman Live, you'll actually be able to customize your own Bomberman, getting to choose what their hat will be, their head, and their body. That might not seem like many choices, but when you consider everything is changeable and can be mixed and matched, you have well over probably several hundred or thousand costume choices. There are 60 costume sets to Bomberman Live, including that of a rocker, construction worker, hula dancer, cheerleader, astronaut, wizard, and more. You'll only have a few choices to begin with, but by competing in battles, you'll see glowing costume caplets drop into play, and if you get it before anyone else, you just unlocked a new costume set that you can use to further your individual online style. Us? We mixed it up with a cowboy hat sporting pink ballerina.

Up to eight players can play Bomberman Live online or during local matches. For local matches at least – we didn't play online – you can even fill up unfilled player spots with computer AI characters, with easy, normal, and hard difficulties attached to them. The AI is quite hard and intelligent, though a few times we did notice AI getting stuck running against a wall, but this isn't the 100% finished game either. Eight players is really frantic and fun, but almost a bit too chaotic, as you just can't look around to notice all the bombs being placed down with that number of players. Through our hours with the game, we found that exactly four players was the golden number of players, as that limited the chaos, and made moves and battles much more deliberate and thoughtful, and thus led to an overall better time to be had; four to eight players is the number you want to try and straddle each game to maximize enjoyment.

Classic_Normal_001Bomberman Live had a total of nine different levels to play on, each with their own potential quirks and pitfalls to change things up. You've got Classic (good ol' Bomberman with no level quirks), Lost World (tar traps can snare you and hold you in place), Ghost Town (trap doors you can fall into), Thin Ice (ice will get cracks and break), Big Top (kick arrows direct the flow of kicked bombs), Plunder Isle (all the powerups are in one place either in the middle of outside of the level), Spaced Out, Blast!, and Random. Out of all the levels, we enjoyed Classic, Lost World, Ghost Town, and Plunder Isle the most, though they were all fun. Lost World and Ghost Town were fun because of the environmental hazards, because there was something simply thrilling about setting a bomb right against someone stuck in tar, or dropping down a trap door to spare yourself from being exploded by a bomb (our personal favorite technique). Plunder Isle, meanwhile, was frantic and a laugh, as usually one or two players got to all the powerups before everyone else, and so you typically had a few superpowered Bombermen running around laying destruction everywhere, while others walked around with their usual one or two bomb placements at most.

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