Tag Archive: konami


There had been a Bomberman game on every Nintendo system ever until that streak finally broke with the Wii U. Looking to make sure that mistake wasn’t repeated, Konami surprised everyone when they announced that their first Bomberman game and the first game we’ve seen from the series in seven years—Konami acquired original Bomberman creators Hudson Soft in 2012 and then never used the IP—would be a Switch launch title. As someone who played more than a few entries in the series on several different Nintendo consoles, this was an exciting surprise, made all the better by a game that actually delivers a decent-quality maze-busting experience.

Super Bomberman R opens up on Planet Bomber, where the original white Bomberman is admonishing his seven siblings for ignoring their demolition training duties. As they all go around the room making their excuses, a man named Buggler announces himself to the world and challenges team Bomberman outright with his own team of five Dastardly Bombers—who promptly begin wreaking havoc at different outposts all over the galaxy. The Bombermen must now fight their way through the Dastardly Bombers to get to Buggler and end his reign of terror.

Even when Bomberman moved away from his arcade roots and started trying to add real story elements with Mega Bomberman in the Sega Genesis days, it was never really a game driven by its plot—it was more like we now had an excuse as to why we would go around willy-nilly blowing up every brick wall and balloon enemy we found. Similarly, Super Bomberman R’s story isn’t its strong suit. It tries to go for a Saturday-morning cartoon vibe, with each cutscene touting over-the-top comedic dialogue, but it’s clearly just there to loosely tie the entire adventure together. For old-school fans, you’ll appreciate how it pays homage to the Bomberman games of the past, at least in terms of modernizing the stories of characters like Buggler (Bagular in the old games) and the Dastardly Bombers. If you’re not a die-hard Bomberman fan, you’ll still be able to follow along, although you likely won’t care nearly as much as those of us who have some history with these characters.

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Where Super Bomberman R shines is in its gameplay, which again blends the earliest adventures of Bomberman with some of his later 3D escapades. Most of the campaign is spread out across five worlds with 10 stages each. The first eight of these stages are your classic Bomberman fare, as a cavalcade of breakable and non-breakable blocks create mazes of varying complexity that are littered with enemies that can one-hit kill our hero. Each world has its own theme, but after just a couple stages on each planet, the aesthetics become a tad dull. Every world is also designed in 3D, but the locked isometric camera gives off those old-school puzzler vibes fans of the series likely first fell in love with.

Most of these stages require you to eliminate all your enemies—the most common task for Bomberman over the years. Adding a new wrinkle, however, are stages that feature survival objectives, escort missions, finding hidden keys, or stepping on a series of hidden switches. This variety helps keep gameplay that can become repetitive fresh, especially when you’re still relatively underpowered and need to find all the classic bomb, blast, and movement power-ups the series has always featured.

The last two stages of each world are where the game gets really fun, harkening back to more recent titles in the series. First, you have to take on a Dastardly Bomber in single combat, trying to trick them into blowing themselves up if you can’t find the perfect way to do it with your own bombs, or maybe a combination of the two (several times I would use an enemy’s bomb against them to pin them in a corner and secure victory). If you can defeat them in single combat, then the Dastardly Bomber transforms into a massive map-filling mechanical monstrosity. For example, Golem Bomber becomes Fort Walker, a giant robotic turtle where you have to blow up each of its four legs before blasting away at its head. Meanwhile, Plasma Bomber becomes Judge Gwinbee, a flying mech with machine guns that you have to blow up as it flies by. These moments made whatever grind the rest of the campaign might dish out more than worth it, and truly put your skills to the test.

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And trust me, your skills will be tested, because you will die. A lot. It’s still surprising how often you might lose track of how big your bomb blast is, forget about an enemy around the corner, or just accidentally barricade yourself between two bombs and watch as your life counter drops by one. The chaos only increases if playing the campaign in 2-player co-op due to friendly fire. Easier difficulties offer more lives, but no matter what setting you play on, the system by which you receive more continues is more mind-boggling than any maze the game throws at you.

Super Bomberman R features an in-game currency (no microtransactions) that rewards you with coins for beating Dastardly Bombers in the campaign or by winning multiplayer matches. This currency system can be used to purchase cosmetic items for your Bombermen, new maps, and unfortunately, also campaign continues. This weird interchanging of the currency means that if I ran out of lives and didn’t have enough coins saved up because I bought Black Bomberman this sweet top hat, I’d lose my entire progress on a level and have to start at stage one again, no matter my position. Lower difficulties see the price of continues drop, but it’s a weird way to have to game the system, often forcing you to choose between multiplayer goodies and beating the main game and creating an unfortunate grind.

Even with this odd currency situation, the greatest strength of Super Bomberman R—like many Bomberman games—remains the multiplayer component, and it’s only been enhanced further with the Switch. Up to eight Joy-Cons can be connected to a Switch for some truly frantic local action, or four Switches can link with two Joy-Cons each, again resulting in the same scenario. Even if you don’t have a full complement of local players, you can always play online. While there have been reports of connectivity issues at launch, I can attest that at least during my personal time online over the past few days, I had no problem connecting with other players. Either way, the multiplayer action that the series is known for remains, and there is no more fulfilling feeling than trapping your buddy in a corner with explosives—and no more harrowing feeling than when the same thing is done to you in turn.

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If you can’t get the full complement of eight players either way, you can also add bots to the multiplayer fun. However, I’d advise against it. The bot AI can’t be adjusted, and they are almost always set to master level it seems, knowing just how far away they need to stand from your bombs or the perfect way to trap you almost every time. The best multiplayer fun in Bomberman is against friends anyway, and that remains true here in Super Bomberman R.

Super Bomberman R might not pack the punch of one of Bomberman’s bombs when you think of console launch titles, but it’s still a quality experience. The campaign can be a bit of a grind, but has enough surprises and enjoyable moments to keep pulling you through—especially if playing co-op with a friend. And, like many Bomberman titles of the past, the local multiplayer experience with friends is almost second-to-none—that is if the game doesn’t blow up your friendships as much as you do brick walls. A few questionable choices like the in-game currency definitely add an unwanted grinding element to everything, but any fan of old-school Bomberman should be more than pleased with this long-awaited return.

Publisher: Konami • Developer: Hexadrive • ESRB: E10+ – Everyone 10 and up • Release Date: 03.03.17
7.5
The in-game currency decision was a head scratcher, as it adds an unwelcome grinding element to much of the gameplay. If you can look past that, then there’s a decent campaign and the same addictive multiplayer Bomberman is known for sitting at this launch title’s explosive core.
The Good A surprising amount of content, with 8-player multiplayer and a campaign that lasts for more than 50 levels.
The Bad Level design and gameplay can get repetitive after a while; in-game currency system.
The Ugly Accidentally trapping yourself between two bombs and then there are those few seconds where you’re just waiting for your inevitable end.
Super Bomberman R is a Switch exclusive. Review code was provided by Konami for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.

Whip it, whip it OK

One of the more frequent complaints about the first Lords of Shadow was that it got away from what players have come to expect from the franchise. Most still generally agreed, however, that it was probably the best 3D Castlevania ever (not that that was saying much), so the hype—and the hope—was pretty high for the follow-up.

In Lords of Shadow 2, players get to control Dracula himself for the first time ever, and they do so in the modern era as he wages his own personal war against Hell’s best soldiers. After being awoken from a 200-year slumber by necromancer extraordinaire Zobek, Dracula has to shake off some of the rust that’s accumulated over two centuries and must search within himself—and the city that’s risen over the remains of his old castle—in order to reclaim his once-impressive strength.

After a four-year wait for this sequel, I’ve got some good news: MercurySteam took a lot of the first game’s criticisms to heart. The bad news? Some of the solutions create new problems, and some strengths of the first game just aren’t as good here.

The first—and probably biggest—issue that MercurySteam addressed was the linearity of the first game. Whereas Lords of Shadow was broken up into small stages that took place within one of the game’s dozen chapters, this sequel features an open world for players to run around in and explore. Like most games of this ilk, as Dracula regains his lost abilities, more of the world opens up, and previously unattainable power-ups and secrets become accessible. Simply put, an open-world game is an easy fix to the linearity problem—if it were planned properly.

MercurySteam was so ambitious that they essentially built two open worlds, since Dracula often “travels” back to his castle in the past from various points in the modern world. They’re big enough that you’ll easily get lost in them—and that’s the problem. You will get lost, and not in a “I lost track of time because the game is so good” sort of way, but more like “This is the third time I’ve passed that landmark, and I’ve gotten nowhere.” Lords of Shadow 2 is in desperate need of a better map system, especially in the city. It’s hard to remember where collectibles are or if you’re even going the right way. Several sections look so much alike that the areas almost blend together, and the game does a horrible job of letting you know there’s a marker system buried somewhere in the countless menus.

One change that does seem to have worked out for the better? The combat. In the original Lords of Shadow, many players found themselves simply mashing a button or two and only changing strategies for the few enemies who could counter the more basic moves. To encourage players to mix things up this time around, Dracula has three main weapons—the Blood Whip, the Void Sword, and the Chaos Claws—and they all get stronger by using and then mastering different techniques with them. And this Master System is one of the few straightforward things about Lords of Shadow 2. You defeat enemies to get experience points, then spend these points to unlock new weapon techniques. After using those techniques so many times in combat, you can transfer knowledge of the technique into the weapon itself, making it more powerful.

I’ll admit that I still found myself slipping into the bad habit of using only one or two techniques—like the Guillotine aerial smash—now and then, but the combat system is still much improved and far more rewarding this time around. And even if you’re like me and fall into old patterns, you’ll still use more moves total due to the increased enemy variety, even if you develop favorite tactics over time.

One of the strongest elements from the first Lords of Shadow—and one that most players probably hoped wouldn’t change—would be the storytelling. While it started slow, the first game built up nicely to a crescendo and then a cliffhanger ending to make Lords of Shadow 2 possible. This time, it’s a bit of the reverse.

For the better part of the game, the narrative is still solid. Much like how Lords of Shadows 2 offers two worlds to explore, it also includes two major enemies. The first one is obvious: It’s Satan, in that classic man-versusthe supernatural scenario. The second foe? That’s Dracula himself. As explained by a 15-minute cutscene early on, in case you didn’t play the first game, Dracula was originally Gabriel Belmont, cursed forever to fight his bloodline after absorbing the powers of the original Lords of Shadow. This leads to powerful scenes of him racked with guilt over having not known his son, losing his wife, and his cursing a God who’s abandoned him.

Of course, it also leads to some confusion and plot holes for those familiar with the series. How exactly does Dracula go back in time to his castle to unlock his powers? Are they hallucinations? Has his guilt taken form to test him before he can reclaim his power? Is he actually traveling back in time? Is it all of the above? It’s all really unclear, and just when I thought I’d figured it out, the next story beat would happen to befuddle me again. And if I was confused after having played all the previous games, I can just imagine how it might be for someone looking to get into the series. It’s probably not the best idea to start with Lords of Shadow 2 if plot means something to you.

The story also tries its best—but fails—to cover up the fact that many of Dracula’s objectives for 80 percent of the game are glorified fetch quests to lead him back to his true strength. I would’ve preferred more time with all my powers so I wouldn’t have had to backtrack so much to find all the hidden items. The worst part, however, may be that the story builds towards a preconceived end point, only to provide a cop-out finish that left me unsatisfied.

Even with these problems, though, there’s still a solid core to Lords of Shadow 2. The mood-setting orchestral music is fantastic, and I loved the voice acting, led by Patrick Stewart as Zobek and Robert Carlyle as Dracula. What’s more, the epic boss battles rival those seen in the first game. It’s just a shame that MercurySteam’s evident lack of experience constructing open worlds, and letting the story get away from them, keeps Lords of Shadow 2 from being better than its predecessor.

Developer: MercurySteam • Publisher: Konami • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 02.25.14
7.0
Lords of Shadow 2 runs into a classic sequel problem. By trying to do more and fix the few issues of the first game, MercurySteam actually does less and creates more problems. Despite this, they’ve still crafted a competent tale with solid core gameplay that should entertain longtime Castlevania fans, even if it’s not quite everything they’d hoped for.
The Good Drastically improved, rewarding combat.
The Bad A pathetic excuse for a map system; objectives feel too much like glorified fetch quests.
The Ugly How fast I’d probably succumb to vampire queen Carmilla’s, ahem, charms.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for PS3 using review code provided by Konami.

If I Could Turn Back Time

The idea of the treasure hunter is nothing new and has been around probably for as long as there has been treasure to hunt. But Blades of Time, looks to put an interesting spin on this age old premise by mixing equal parts attractive looking protagonist with some sweet elemental time powers and seeing if it can’t make something that is worth playing.

You play as Ayumi, a girl whose good looks are only outmatched by her greed and so when she hears word of an alternate dimension with countless riches, she storms into the sanctum where the portal to this world is held with her mentor, a man named Zero, and takes no prisoners. Once in this alternate dimension, a place that you find out is called ‘Dragonland’, Ayumi gets more than she bargained for though and falls katana-first into an ageless war between chaos and order and only by tapping into the powers of both can she hope to survive.

And, of course, Ayumi will be expected to fight through this new world in order to save her hide and has more ways to do so than you’d expect to find in even the most polished of hack ‘n’ slash adventures. She’ll wield a pair of patented katanas, a plentiful amount of rifles, and various elemental powers, including time, which is obviously referred to in the title and thus takes center stage with your magical abilities, and creates many of the more interesting combat dynamics.

Many of the foes you’ll face, especially the larger ones, outgun Ayumi in a lot of ways. Thus, the only way for her to make any progress is to use the time rewind powers bestowed upon her when she first entered Dragonland to her advantage. By doing this, Ayumi can create duplicates of herself that will mimic the actions she performed in the last few seconds. You can literally create a small army of rifle firing Ayumis to immediately shatter a foe’s shield or hack away with a hundred katanas. And it is quite the sight to see all these echoes of the curvaceous blonde running around a battlefield, causing carnage in their wake.

Of course, the downfall of this mechanic is the fact that many of the enemies require this technique to be used on them later in the game. Therefore, the game starts to become a bit of a grind as you move through various vibrant and colorful sections of this war-torn dimension you find yourself in with really only one or two combat options later on as opposed to early in the game and that in and of itself just seem counter-intuitive.

With all these weapons and powers at her disposal, the thing that I was most impressed with though was the ease with which I was able to switch from swords to guns and to magic. This helped with the pace of many battles and with a dozen Ayumi’s running around, helped keep things feeling frantic and exciting in terms of action, even if I really had the situation well in hand the whole time as my combat options became more and more limited as the game went on.

Unfortunately, the game really falls apart when it comes to the plot and character development of Ayumi, Zero, and the other characters you come across in the game. Ayumi is left as a plain, one-dimensional character until the very end of the dozen-hour experience where you maybe start to see a crack of personality form. By then though, you’ve become bored of her and the miserable voice acting that litters the game in both mid-level banter and poorly animated cut scenes, all of which is, of course, just a vain attempt to forward what was a very weak plot to begin with. This lack of a fleshed out story makes the grinding in the later levels even more painful as you are denied the proper motivation to really see this character through to the end of her journey because you never care about her or her cohorts and therefore are denied your just rewards with a satisfying conclusion.

The game does offer some replay-value in that once you beat the game you can play it again on Hard Mode and it has various collectibles scattered about Dragonland that are supposed to help fill in the back story, but are just as vague and lifeless as the voice acting in the cut scenes. There is also a multiplayer mode called Outbreak, which is the game’s twist on Capture the Point and can be played against or in co-op with several friends, but isn’t anything particularly special.

When all is said and done, Blades of Time surprised me with its tight controls and interesting time manipulation dynamic that offered a nice change of pace to your typical hack ‘n’ slash experience. But with a lack of plot and character development throughout my entire time playing the campaign, I just could never bring myself to really care about this game as much as I wanted to.

SUMMARY: Some solid combat dynamics can’t make up for the fact that the plot and character development, or lack thereof, falls flat in every way.

  • THE GOOD: Great combat dynamic between the guns, swords, and time powers
  • THE BAD: An overall lack of plot and character development
  • THE UGLY: Don’t you just love it when lips don’t sync up with words in EVERY cut scene?

SCORE: 6.5

Blades of Time is available on Xbox 360 and PS3. Primary version reviewed was on Xbox 360.

Fall to Pieces

There are many people out there who wish they could live forever. But Konami and developer Rebellion show that 500 years really can take its toll on a person. And unfortunately it doesn’t do any favors for game players either.

NeverDead is the story of a demon-slayer named Bryce who in an epic battle with the demon king Astaroth, loses his wife and is damned to walk the Earth forever. Five centuries later and Bryce spends most of his time now drowning his sorrows at the local pub in between wreaking his own bit of vengeance as a freelance hunter, trying to keep demons from overrunning the modern world.

The most interesting aspect of his curse is that Bryce may walk the Earth forever, but in his line of work, you’re due to take your lumps, especially when you’ve been doing it as long as he has. So when he gets slashed by weird four-legged demons with giant knives on their heads (ironically named “Spoons”), Bryce doesn’t really take damage in the traditional sense, although he does go to pieces. Literally. You see, as Bryce takes damage, he loses life AND limb until he is just a decapitated head sputtering around the battlefield trying desperately to put himself back together.

What is great about this concept is that it provides a clearly unique challenge you won’t find in any other third-person shooter out there, and fits in with the wonderfully abstract character designs you’ll see throughout the game, from the colorful demon lieutenant Sangria to the twisted demon minions you’ll face in every level. And the physics system is phenomenal as explosions scatter your parts to the winds and you can find some twisted humor in trying to roll Bryce’s head around the level trying to find them again before some smaller demon finishes you off.

But having the game play revolve around this concept does have its drawbacks. It becomes irritating that there is no way to really strengthen Bryce so that he’ll fall apart less often, and as the enemies become more difficult, you end up spending more time trying to put yourself back together than actually fighting demons because of it. And with the two-bit voice acting that is wrought throughout this game, including no more than a handful of nickel and dime lines that Bryce says whenever you put him back together, this mechanic will soon become the bane of both your and Bryce’s existence.

Speaking of strengthening Bryce though, there is an RPG system where you gain XP by obtaining collectibles or striking down foes, but it feels more like a tacked on system that came in later than being a game play pillar from the beginning of development as there are several seemingly useless powers and it just seems too easy to gather the XP you need to get the handful of good powers that are offered to you.

This also leads us into the enemies and how you combat them. I will say that the boss battles are some of the more ingenious and entertaining boss battles you’re likely to find in any game. They feel like a reward for working your way through each level. The problem is they feel like such a reward because the levels themselves are cut from the same uninspired cookie cutter design and each room you enter consists of the same pattern. Kill enemy spawn points, kill enemies that spawned before you killed spawn point, repeat. Over and over again.

And the weapons you use do not help break up this monotony either. Bryce can wield a bevy of modern day weapons in each hand, or use his patented Butterfly Blade. But, and this is especially true in the early levels, Bryce’s Butterfly Blade is so much more powerful and effective than many of the firearms offered to you that there is little to no point to ever not use your sword. And this turns the already monotonous levels into an even more monotonous hack ‘n’ slash fest. Of course, you also later learn how to use Bryce’s body parts as projectiles, but doing this defeats the purpose of trying to keep yourself together if you actually use it in battle and so only is useful in solving the handful of simple puzzles scattered throughout the game.

When all is said and done, there are some glimmers of great things in NeverDead. An interesting life mechanic, solid physics, epic boss battles, and colorful characters. But monotonous combat, boring level design, and tacked on game play elements keep this from rising above mediocrity.

SUMMARY: NeverDead is a classic example of an interesting premise falling flat on execution. A brilliant exercise in game physics and boss battles, this game is weighed down mostly by the mundane combat across nearly a dozen dull and uninspired levels.

  • THE GOOD: Great physics and boss battles that feel like the reward they should be
  • THE BAD: The grind that is working through the levels leading up to said boss battles
  • THE UGLY: The toll 500 years can have on the human body

SCORE: 6.0

Neverdead is available on Xbox 360 and PS3. Primary version reviewed was on Xbox 360.

Originally Published: August 16, 2011, on EGMNOW.COM

Publisher: Konami
Developer: AQ Interactive
Platforms: PS3

The Good: Extra assassin missions in stunning 1080p HD graphics
The Bad: Still riding around Santa Destroy on your motorcycle
The Ugly: The PS Move controls are just as clunky as the Wii version’s

One of the most original and fun games I’ve played on the current generation of consoles came from one of the most delightfully twisted developer minds around in Suda 51. The first No More Heroes had flaws, but many could be overlooked by the brilliant humor and over the top situations. Include some epic and unforgettable boss battles and the original game was definitely a winner.

Unfortunately, this gaming gem fell through the cracks for many because it was a Wii-exclusive. Until now. No More Heroes: Heroes Paradise is not only a port of that original game to the PS3, but it includes nearly twice as many foes for Travis Touchdown, our sex with an anime girl and pro-wrestling obsessed beam katana wielding (imagine cheap lightsaber) protagonist, to assassinate as he works on becoming the number one assassin in the world.

But with this port also come many of the same problems found in the original game as well as some new ones. Set in the fictional sandbox world of Santa Destroy, Travis still spends too much time on his motorcycle, needlessly driving from objective to objective. And although the new side missions to build up cash are cute, they are really nothing more than unnecessary distractions from the main game of hacking up your foes into tiny little pieces. And if you use the PS Move, the controls to hack up your enemies with your beam katana are just as finicky as the original game for the Wii. There are moments where everything is picked up perfectly and then there are others where you have to repeat the same motion a dozen times. You can also stock up to three “Dark Side” charges now, which allow Travis to go into a blood lust rage and hack his foes apart with much greater ease and take no damage, but I felt the original mechanic of having them activate immediately when earned worked fine and this new method makes the game’s natural difficulty much simpler to overcome.

Despite these control and game flow problems, the script and boss battles are still tremendous and if you haven’t had a chance to play the original No More Heroes then to experience it for the first time in 1080p on the PS3 would be the way to go. But if you’ve already risen to the top of the assassin ranks with the Wii version, the extra bosses aren’t really enough to warrant picking up this port.

Score: 7.5

Originally Published: January 11, 2011, on youtube.com/cgrundertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Castlevania: Harmony of Despair, an exclusive for the Xbox Live Arcade from Konami.

Originally Published: December 2, 2010, on Youtube.com/cgrundertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Adrenalin Misfits for the Xbox 360 Kinect from Konami.

Originally Published: November 16, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Gormiti: Lords of Nature for the Nintendo DS from Konami.

Originally Published: October 22, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

I had a chance over Skype to speak to the developers of AAA: Luche Libre: Heroes del Ring.

E3 – Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Originally Published: June 16th, 2010, on PlayerAffinity.com and Examiner.com

I had a chance to catch up with Sega, Atari, Spike Games, Disney, and Konami on the first official day of E3 2010!