Bomberman is one of those games that offer a truly remarkable multiplayer mode that's easy to understand, difficult to master, and wonderfully addictive. The battling, where your aim is to defeat your enemies by dropping bombs and avoiding the blasts that result, is easily the most memorable and fun part of the series, but when it comes to single player experiences, the pyromaniac's games tend to be a lot less enticing, so will this game finally give us the single player experience we've been looking for?
In short: yes. This game offers the best Bomberman single player mode I've ever played. It's far from perfect, but it is the best attempt yet. In the single player mode, you travel through levels bombing enemies and glass balls to open doors to further stages. Each level has around three stages, and if you die, you'll start the level from the beginning again. Unlike in the battle stages, you won't die from bomb blasts, but instead your life bar will reduce, and so you'll find it harder to die at first. As more and more different enemies appear though and the levels start to get more complex, with tighter completion times and more obstacles, you'll still find yourself playing through the odd level repeatedly as you die from the difficulty.
A nice addition to the single player mode, which features some platforming elements such as spring boards and secret areas, is the RPG style customizing screen, where you can upgrade and change different features such as strength and speed. You unlock better parts as you go through the game, but due to the limited experience points, you won't be able to select all the best parts at once all the time, adding to the skill required for playing. At first, it may seem like an unnecessary complication, but you'll soon come to use this feature as if it was there from the beginning of Bomberman.
Of course, the battle mode is where you'll often end up playing, with eight player gaming across one or both screens, depending on how frantic you want the gameplay to be. As always, you can add CPU to the game and play by yourself, with your opponents available in difficulties from super easy to very hard. We often only opted for the super easy choice, since it's so easy to slip up, but great fun nonetheless. As with previous Bomberman DS games, this also includes online support, although sadly we couldn't get many opponents.
Of course, despite being as addictive and fun as it is, the battle mode does occasionally tend to feel a bit old, so Hudson have chucked in a few extra modes on their own stages. There's one game where you have to reach the top of the top screen before your opponents, destroying all the blocks that lie in your way, and in another, you need to try and find the hidden key in a level in order to open a secret door, both of which have to be found in the usual way. These modes (which also include a fun paint bomb game) add to the fun, and give a little variety to the usual bombing frenzy - despite the varying stages in the usual mode that allow you to create maximum power bomb blasts from the start, walk across holes, hide in pipes, scoot across conveyor belts or kick bombs around the level as much as you wish. There are also some special unlockable stages available via multi-card play in the single player mode if you've got some friends with the game as well.
All in all, this is one of the better Bomberman games. The single player is the best of it's kind, and the fun of the multiplayer mode has no end, so it's just a shame that many people won't buy this game, especially when there's the (Bomberman Blast-style ranked) online mode. But hey - that's what DS download play is for, right?