Bombing Busters review for PS Vita, PS4

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4
Publisher: Sanuk Games
Developer: Sanuk Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes
ESRB: E10+

I feel like there’s a limit to just how well I can grade Bombing Busters. I mean, even if it were a legitimate contender for Game of the Year — which it’s not, but stay with me for a second here — the fact it’s a fairly straightforward Bomberman clone seems like it puts a pretty firm ceiling on how well it could be received. I have nothing against blatant thievery (after all, the Arkham-aping Captain America: Super Soldier from a few years ago is still one of my favorite games ever), but at the same time, I also don’t think that it should be rewarded unreservedly.

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Credit where credit is due, though: Bombing Busters may be a full-on clone, but it’s also a well-made one. The controls are intuitive, it looks as nice as it needs to, and I really enjoyed the soundtrack (though even this isn’t without a caveat; more on that in a second). The difficulty curve may be a little steep, especially considering the levels are randomized, but considering how simple the gameplay is, it’s hard to get too annoyed if some boards and enemies are a little tougher than others.

Still, it’s hard to say how much praise Bombing Busters should get for any of this. It makes virtually no effort to build on the Bomberman formula, which means that whatever this game does right, it does so because Bomberman — in one version or another — did it right first. And in the one area where the game shines independently of Bomberman, it’s still built on reflected glory: the game is scored by slightly tweaked versions of songs like “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”, “Flight of the Bumble Bee” and “In The Hall of the Mountain King.” They’re great tracks, to be sure, and they fit the game very well, but it seems like Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Grieg deserve credit for that more than Sanuk.

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Don’t take any of this the wrong way: Bombing Busters is a fine game for what it is, and considering Bomberman itself isn’t on either the Vita or the PS4, it will make a fine substitute (because, as far as the latter console goes, the less said of Midnight Crawl/Brawl, the better). But if you want anything more than that out of it, you’ll be a little disappointed, since there’s nothing here that hasn’t been done (at least 75 times) before.

Grade: B-