NYCC 09: Bomberman Ultra hands-on (PSN)

Bomberman isn't Bomberman if it isn't done in that classic 2D, top-down style. It's a simple formula that has transcended generations, making hits when staying true to its roots ... and making facepalms when it doesn't. It's with this thought in mind that we're left unsurprised to see what Hudson has decided to do with Bomberman Ultra -- the latest entry into this 26-year old series. Hudson is sticking to tradition with this PlayStation Network title.

Bomberman Ultra is, in a nutshell, a slightly upgraded port of Bomberman Live! which debuted on Xbox Live back in 2007. The visuals are virtually identical as this PS3 version retains a crisp and clean look along with some very vibrant colors. Other identical features include the very same power-ups and character customization options found in Live!. Ultra also contains all of Live!'s additional levels from the Bomb-Up Pack DLC, as well as three all-original stages for a total of 17 playable levels.

Gallery: Bomberman Ultra

Not everything is exactly the same though. A major difference between Bomberman Live! and Ultra is that the new title now supports up to seven players for local games. Live! only allowed for up to four; so, perhaps this upgrade makes Ultra a slightly better party game. As for the gameplay itself, matches are generally still those quick skirmishes they've always been in games of the past. The simple single-button control is, needless to say, easy for anyone to pick up.

Like we said, this game sticks to its roots. This means that the game feels nostalgic but does not offer that much of a different experience from past titles (especially if one has played Bomberman Live! before). Though it feels like a very familiar experience in an overall sense, each battle can still be fun and unique. It's the dynamics of the individual battles that keep the game going on. It's a sort of illusion of freshness, as there's always an interesting occurrence to speak of or to remember. Of course, Bomberman is a multiplayer game; playing with human opponents is the definite way to go as their unpredictability will give each battle that extra kick. The AI isn't all too bright most of the time.

PS3 owners currently eyeing this PSN-only title should know that this is the only Bomberman title available for their system. Or, should we say, that it will be available. The game is slated to release sometime later this month of February. It has been an awfully long wait though for those who've been patient for a PSN download version of Bomberman.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.