Friday, October 26, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 47


New 'Bomberman' game explodes on GameBoy Advance

By Michael Ahlf
Daily Cougar Staff

Finishing up the current crop of Gameboy Advance games this week, we take a look at Activision's title Bomberman Tournament and Nintendo's Advance Wars.

Photo courtesy of Capcom

X-Men leader Cyclops blasts teammate Nightcrawler on the sequel to the popular fighting game X-Men 2.

Bomberman is one of Activision's better lines, having had strong showings on both the SNES and N64, and now coming in to the GBA with a well-tuned game. 

The single-player gameplay of Bomberman tournament has a rudimentary quest story line: five mad Bombers have crashed down on a planet, and Bomberman must follow his
friend Max to defeat each one and save the world.

Along the way, he meets up with creatures called Karabons, each of which has a different power to help him solve puzzles. Otherwise, the gameplay is very reminiscent of the
original Legend of Zelda, with one difference: Bomberman leaves bombs on screen to attack enemies, later getting the ability to throw and kick them as well. 

Bomberman's single player pales compared to battle mode, in which up to four players go at it attempting to knock each other out of the arena with bombs. It's fast and furious,
and lost players remain on the sidelines tossing bombs to eliminate those who are still around, making it quite a challenge. All in all, Bomberman Tournament is one of those
perfect games for the portable system. 

Grade: A

Likewise we have Advance Wars, Nintendo's take on a strategy title. The premise is simple: take your units at the start of the game, deploy units with resources earned during
play, and either wipe out your enemy or capture his HQ. With a large number of units at your disposal, there's no certain way to win each battle.

The second aspect of Advance Wars is the commanders, each of which has strengths and weaknesses. As you play through story line, using troops more suited to the
commander can be the key to victory. 

Also worthy of note is the game's AI, which is pretty good for a game with this many units and possible options. In fact, the AI is almost flawless without being overpowering,
because the game actually obeys its own reaction limits in how far the troops can see while showing the player the whole board. 

The other great part of it is a well-done in-depth training campaign that leads new players through the units one by one to really learn how to use them.

Advance Wars can be played in single player and multi-player if you have a gamelink cable, and is one of those must have titles to put on your Christmas list. Grade: A

If you thought we'd have three A titles this week… sorry, but that's not going to happen this time around. Our last title is X-Men: Mutant Academy 2, which is an improvement on the
original title that came out around the same time that the X-men movie did.

The game features all the original fighters and arenas, copied over from the first game exactly, as well as new fighters like Rogue, Nightcrawler, and Juggernaut. In order to open
up new costumes and endings, it's necessary to play through both Academy and Arcade modes with each character. While Arcade mode doesn't have a story line as such, each
character has a cinematic ending, and a few of them follow each other to show a larger context. 

The engine of the game has been tweaked: there are still three levels of super attack, but the "X" super no longer requires tapping of the X button to lock in. Aerial combo attacks
have been added as well, making the game feel more like the Capcom VS series games. 

Unfortunately, the game's moves haven't been sped up and smoothed out, and so combat can get to feel blocky and frustrating when facing the speedier characters. 

The other problem that hasn't been addressed is moves that don't really fit characters -- while Beast is definitely acrobatic and Cyclops relies on his optic abilities, Mystique's
shapeshifting powers and the Juggernaut's dashing attacks are conspicuously missing. In addition, the AI still relies on its corner traps and the ability to execute high-power
combos with far more precision than a human, lowering replay value considerably. 

While it's a definite improvement, X-Men 2 just doesn't reach the level of other fighting games available today. Grade: B-

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