I had never played a Bomberman game before playing Bomberman Live. Oh sure, I had heard of Bomberman and I knew that a lot of people enjoyed it, but with the limited time I have to share among hundreds of games I never got around to giving it a try. It turns out that that was a big oversight on my part because I now have experienced first hand how much fun Bomberman can be.
The basic gameplay is deceptively simple. The game is played in a maze in which all the Bombermen are let loose to start dropping bombs. Some of the maze's walls are destructible and destroying them not only opens up new paths, but doing so can also reveal special power-ups for the taking. Your goal is simply to be the last Bomberman standing. Well, it's not quite that simple. There's a good deal of quick thinking required in the game as you need to pick your bomb drop spots carefully. You need to decide which paths to try and open up first, where you can place bombs to trap opponents, and more, all while being careful to avoid your opponents' bombs and getting trapped somewhere yourself. And you need to pay attention to all this while as many as seven other Bombermen are running around the maze doing the same thing. Trust me; you don't know how much fun that this barely controlled chaos can be until you've tried it.
Variety is the spice of life and so it is with Bomberman. The game doesn't depend on its basic form alone to keep you coming back for more. First of all it features eight different mazes, each with its own special features such as pools of quicksand or fire pits. Then there is the great variety of power-ups, and each type can be made available in a game or removed from play on an individual basis. And you also have optional rules, such as whether or not to include the Revenge Cart, a mobile cannon on wheels that recently deceased Bombermen can use to loft bombs back into the maze onto the living. To top it all off there are a few gameplay variants to choose from when you want to take a break from the standard game, such as Paintbomb which has players use their bombs to paint the tiles in the maze into their color with the goal of owning the most squares at game's end.
You can play all of these games offline against the computer and you'll find that the AI is perfectly capable of providing you with some challenge. Sometimes you'll see computer-controlled Bombermen do some odd things, but overall you'll find yourself having to work for each win. And as you rack up the wins, you'll unlock costumes and accessories that you can mix and match to create a custom Bomberman. You can even be a cowboy ballerina if you'd like.
Of course the real challenge will come when you play online. The game certainly doesn't disappoint in this regard and provides some of the most frenzied gameplay you'll find on Xbox Live Arcade. Believe me, you'll find yourself coming back to Bomberman Live time and again.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 86%. Dare I say it? It's the bomb!