Bomberman has seen a release on just about every console out there over the years, and while you'll definitely get contrasting opinions on which version of the game is the best, it's pretty indisputable that Bomberman '94 is one of them. Bomberman '94 was never released outside of Japan for some reason, but it has become one of the most imported PC Engine titles in existence, so it's nice to see Hudson taking the initiative and importing this title to the Virtual Console for a change and giving gamers outside of Japan a chance to experience what is still one of the best Bomberman titles.
The game play in Bomberman '94 doesn't stray too far from the patented formula that's made it one of the most beloved multiplayer games ever made. You can still choose to play the game's single-player story mode, but as any Bomberman fan will tell you, the multiplayer game is where the real action is at.
The single player story mode puts Bomberman in charge of locating Tablets that are scattered across the Bomberman universe. You'll have to bomb each of the Core Mecha units in each level to unlock the Tablet. Of course you'll have to avoid the many enemies that are out to get you, not to mention bomb through the soft walls in order to reach the Mecha units. As you bomb the walls, you'll sometimes find power-ups to help you on your quest. Some power-ups will increase your bomb's explosion range whereas others will allow you to drop multiple bombs at once or even control when your bombs are detonated. Once you've located all the tablets in one area, you'll have to face off against a boss. These boss fights play out much like the individual levels themselves, although the bosses are generally much larger in size and quite a bit more challenging.
The multiplayer game is where most fans of the series will spend the majority of their time and the multiplayer action in Bomberman '94 doesn't disappoint. Up to five players can play the game at once, although you'll need at least one Gamecube controller since the Wii can only handle four Wii Remotes. You can choose from a whole host of special rules, not to mention a variety of playing fields to do battle in. The action can become quite intense when you have 4 or 5 players doing battle at once, so you'll have to stay on your toes if you hope to survive the matches. Of all the Bomberman titles out there, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more playable, not to mention enjoyable, experience than the one found in Bomberman '94.
The visuals in Bomberman '94 are about what you'd expect from a Bomberman title, but it's worth mentioning that this game is easily the best looking of the PC Engine releases. It's also nice that the developers saw fit to give each area its own distinct look, which offers up a good amount of variety throughout the game. The bosses are particularly impressive, as they're not only enormous in size, but they also animate quite well. As usual, the TurboGrafx-16 system's large color palette is put to good use and it all comes together to form a very well executed visual experience for Bomberman fans to enjoy.
If you've played a Bomberman game before, you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Bomberman '94. Most of the tunes are as catchy as usual, and the game features all the trademark bomb explosions we've come to expect from the series. Much like the visuals, there's plenty of variety between the various musical tracks, so you'll never have to worry about hearing the same tunes over and over again.
It goes without saying that if you're even the slightest bit a fan of the Bomberman series, you'll definitely want to have this game in your game library. It might cost you a little more due to it being an import title, but it's a small price to pay for what is one of the best multiplayer games in existence. Bomberman '94 feels as fresh now as it did the day it was released and is yet another outstanding Turbografx-16 Virtual Console release.