Since Bomberman's new, more realistic look on the Xbox 360 was unveiled recently, there's been a mild furor rippling through the internet. Some fans weren't happy about the new storyline, either, which recasts the chirpy little sapper as an imprisoned test subject who's stuffed into some huge-handed body armor and forced to fight his (or her) fellow inmates.
But after trying it ourselves, we can say that underneath that armored exoskeleton beats the heart of the same old Bomberman. It's true that Act: Zero adds a freely movable camera (intended to create a more claustrophobic feel), a life bar and the ability to hide or reduce the damage you take by crouching. But for purists, there's also Standard mode, which features a fixed camera (with a view of the entire arena) and one-hit kills.
Even in the new free-camera mode, the gameplay was the same as it's ever been; there's a little more freedom of movement, but we were still confined to the same grid-like paths and forced to bomb our way through destructible blocks to reach our opponents. The opponents weren't too smart when we played (our first rival blew himself up within seconds), but we were told that enemy intelligence is one of the things the developers are working on ahead of the game's August release.
Sadly, one thing they aren't working on is a way to play with friends on the same Xbox 360. Konami tells us that in addition to its 99-level, light-on-story single-player mode, Bomberman Act: Zero will focus entirely on eight-player matches over Xbox Live. Seeing as half the fun of Bomberman has always been in sitting on a couch and trying to elbow the controllers out of your buddies' hands, this seems like a huge mistake. We're told that the eight-way online matches will get pretty crazy, but can they match the craziness of up to 10 guys physically pummeling each other over an onscreen winning streak? We'll know more in the coming months.