Release Date: August 27, 2003
Buy 'BOMBASTIC': PlayStation 2
I remember when I was a kid – I loved assembling the thousand-piece puzzles. When I completed one, I couldn’t resist framing my work and hanging it on the wall. Lately, there has been a resurgence of these puzzle games, varying from easy and small side games as seen in Prince of Persia or Onimusha 3 (the key locks) all the way to the full-blown puzzle games such as the famous Tetris, Bubble Bobble (known in the U.S. as Bust a Move), and Bombastic. Well, most gamers have never heard of the latter, a sequel to Devil Dice, but it is an intense puzzle game that requires the full use of your noggin or you may never pass a level.
The basis of Bombastic is that you must move dice around, matching up dice of the same number. If you meet the requirements, the complementary dice will eventually explode. To trigger this explosion, you must match a given number of dice with the same value. For example, you need to get 2 or more 2’s, 3 or more 3’s, and so on. The size of the explosion will depend on the number – a 2 will destroy two blocks in all four cardinal directions, and a 6 will take out six blocks. If you’re lucky, you may even trigger a chain, which occurs when the explosions ignite other bombs that are adjacent to the set that you triggered. Let’s say we have a group of 4’s which you’ve set off, and three blocks away from that cluster, you have a 4, and two blocks away from that, you have a 3. Once the 4’s ignite, it’ll hit that 4 that is three blocks away, and when this 4 ignites, it’ll trigger the 3 that is two blocks further. So the rule to trigger a chain is to ignite blocks that will hit other dice whose values are equal or one less than the ones you’re using as catalysts.
Unlike Tetris and Bubble Bobble where you manipulate objects on the screen rather than controlling a character, in Bombastic, you are forced to control an Aquai. An Aquai is hard to explain, but if I were to describe it to a friend, I would have to say it’s a cute little being that can overthrow even the throne of the Teletubbies. All right, maybe that’s a bad comparison, but the Aquai, as stated from the manual, are half devil and half angel, and not many people can hate them. Most of the time, the Aquai will be on top of the dice, rolling it until you achieve the desired number. Sometimes, however, the Aquai will be on the ground, pushing the dice in place and triggering the explosions. The main objective for these Aquai is to reach the cloud world and meet their grandfather. So in order to do this, the five Aquai brothers or sisters decided to go on an adventure which will force them to face monsters, puzzles, and many more obstacles.
There are several types of enemies, differing only in the ways they attack. Some just range in circles, others move in straight lines or chase you down, and there are many more varieties. These adversaries pale in comparison to the bosses. Boss battles are just so intense, requiring you to maximize speed and brain power unless you want to be stuck on one boss for ages. There are certain requirements to defeating bosses, and the one I hate the most is probably the one that needs to eat your ignited dice. Timing and strategy are crucial to ensuring that he doesn’t eat any dice other than the ones you want him to, since he regains life from eating the plain dice on harder levels. When he consumes ignited dice, they will deplete his life. Bosses are usually much larger than the normal enemies, which generally makes them easily distinguishable, with the exception of the first part of the last boss. This was probably my favorite boss battle because it involves a small mini-game in which you roll dice. If you roll a larger number, you try to grab the hammer before the boss defends, but if you get a lower number, you must grab the helmet or else you’ll lose. Each player has a total of three lives, and it’s quite a fun mini-game. Too bad it’s not an option for multi-player mode.
In multi-player, you can choose between Standard, Limited, and Wars modes. Standard mode allows you to work together with a friend and try to reach level 100. On later levels, the dice drop at a faster rate, and cooperative work is important. The first time I played with my roommate, we were fighting for our points, and we failed almost immediately. Remember that teamwork is the key. The second mode, Limited, is where the two of you battle it out until one defeats the other. Lastly, the pinnacle for multi-player is the Wars mode, where you compete against up to five opponents. Each character has life, and your opponent will lose more life if you hit larger dice. In the end, though, the game’s main play and replay value rest in Quest mode.
The aforementioned monsters are only found in Quest mode. Here you go through massive amounts of puzzles, trying your best to determine which way to go. There is one specific level where you must choose the correct way or else lose a life. These puzzles are sometimes simple, yet they can be incredibly difficult to figure out at other times, especially if you are aiming for a perfect score. A perfect score only occurs if you don’t lose a life and you manage to kill all of the enemies on the level. The game is heavily strategy-based, requiring the player to plan several steps ahead, and when facing the enemy, you may need to observe the enemy so that you know when to move. This game may seem like a simple concept, but it’s actually quite hard. I have this strong urge to do well just because of the difficulty. It will also take a decent amount of time to beat the first time, and if you decide to replay it, it’s harder than the first time around. The puzzles are more complicated in later games, and the bosses become beings you just don’t want to face.
After several hours of playing the game, the music does seem quite repetitive. It’s just the same background music throughout the stage. It’s a combination of several different instrumentals, but over time, you really get annoyed with it. On the other hand, the characters’ voices never irritated me, maybe due to the fact that the characters talk in their original language (Japanese). It may be a small amount, but it’s clearly noticeable in the tutorial. I’m glad they didn’t try the same thing that Atlus did with Disgaea’s battle-cry voice-overs. In general, the sound wasn’t that impressive, and I doubt many people will wish to own the CD, but it does fit the game’s atmosphere and graphics.
The graphics seems 2D but are actually 3D, and it works rather well. The video of your character is rather sensitive, and you can see the movements almost as soon as you hit the control. This was a good idea because the entire game requires timing, speed, and much more. The graphics are aimed a little more at the younger audiences, but the advanced gameplay is definitely for the older.
Overall, this game is a good puzzle game that many will miss. It definitely isn’t the easiest, but it’s very challenging, and the completion is rewarding. I suggest that you try out the game – it may be your next favorite puzzle game behind Tetris, Puzzle Bobble, or any of the others. I would say buy before you rent because of the current price; I didn’t regret it and hope you won’t, but decide that for yourself.
Score : 8.2 / 10