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GameBoy Advance









Nintendo / Hudson



E (Everyone)



June 2004



- Naked, naked gameplay

- Part of gaming’s foundation

- Perfectly suited to the GBA

- Pick-up and play



- Overpriced for what you get



Review: Activision Anthology (PS2)

Classic Review: Donkey Kong (Colecovision)



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Donkey Kong / Bomberman

Score: 7.0 / 10

Donkey Kong and Bomberman, part of Nintendo’s “Classic NES” GBA titles, are almost beyond reproach as games.  But here’s a question I’ve been asking myself more and more, particularly with old games being released in compilations, “How do you review games that are almost 20-years old?”


donkey kong          bomberman


In this instance, both games are legends in their own right – classic games that the younger set haven’t played but are always hearing references to.  As historical video game “documents” both titles are invaluable.


Invaluable for one reason: naked gameplay.  Both titles demonstrate gameplay over flashy presentation.




- GameBoy Advance Game Reviews

- Platformer Game Reviews

- Reviews of Games Developed/Published by Nintendo

Both Bomberman (BM) and Donkey Kong (DK) are right at home on the GBA.  DK with its three repeating levels of jumping and climbing and BM with its puzzle-like approach involving high-explosives, they both feature gameplay that can be grasped instantly and played for hours on end or quick 10 minute sessions.  (It’s a lesson a lot of games nowadays have forgotten.)


For those not in the know, BM’s gameplay is much the same as today’s Bomberman games.  You navigate a maze of blocks (some 


destructible, some not) dropping bombs in an attempt to catch your enemies in the resulting blast.  It starts simply enough but as you progress, you can drop more than one bomb at a time and their power is increased allowing a clever player to set up truly massive chain-reaction explosions.  There’s a timer to keep you moving and it’s one of those games that’s great for quick play times or much longer times.  The simple mechanics but overall solid challenge make it easy to pick-up and hard to master. (If the game’s 20-years old, I’m allowed to use really tired game journalist catchphrases!)


donkey kong          bomberman


And Donkey Kong… Well, DK is right up there with all-time classics like Pong.  It’s fitting I quote from my Classic Review of the Colecovision version:


The graphics are crap by today’s standards but they still manage to evoke warm feelings of misspent youth. The sound’s not much better. The same tune plays over and over, changing only when you grab the hammer. But they are memorable. Years later and for no apparent reason I started humming the tunes as I helped my uncle demolish a retaining wall with a sledgehammer.


Even with their classic status, I have a couple of gripes.  Each cartridge costs $20US, an exorbitant amount considering all those involved have been paid royalties many times over.  If each cartridge came with a couple of games – hey, they did it for Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros. on the NES (and like I've done with this review!) – I might be less inclined to beat my chest and yell, “Money grab!  They’re relying on a gamer’s sense of nostalgia to sell software!”  I voiced this opinion to an acquaintance of mine but got shouted down.  “It’s a piece of history, man!  Works of art!  How much would you pay for a Picasso or a Carr?  $20 is a steal!”  So, opinion is split on that matter.


My other issue is that Bomberman wasn't that great a game to start with and there's no multiplayer, which is sure to cause some gamers to scratch their heads.  There are more current Bomberman titles for the GBA that do feature multiplayer so why would you want to grab the original that doesn't have the feature?


- Omni

(July 13, 2004)

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