For a character that maybe isn't quite as relevant as he once was, Bomberman has sure had a strange year. Bomberman: Act Zero was released on the Xbox 360, and it's a putrid hunk of trash that's among the worst games released all year. On the other hand, one of greatest Bomberman games ever released has come back courtesy of the Wii's Virtual Console. Bomberman '93 captures a perfect moment in Bomberman history, when the multiplayer was fast and frantic without getting bogged down by rideable dinosaurs or any of the other stuff that came along in later games. That five-player multiplayer holds up great today, making Bomberman '93 one of the best multiplayer games currently available on the system, Virtual Console or otherwise.
Yes, there's a single-player component here, but it's not the best part of the game. When playing alone, you collect power-ups and move from level to level, taking out very dumb enemies and fighting the occasional boss. But the needle really hits the groove in competition, where up to five Bombermen can go at it in a bomb-dropping extravaganza. There are plenty of available control options for this game. You can play with just the Wii Remote, holding it sideways, or you can use the Classic Controller or a GameCube controller. Since the TurboGrafx-16 had support for up to five players, you'll need to use at least one GameCube controller to play with five people.
The concept for the multiplayer is simple. All five players are put in a level filled with destructible blocks. You need to blast these blocks by dropping bombs. Doing so will uncover power-ups that let you drop more bombs at once, make your bombs more potent, or give you additional abilities, like letting you kick bombs at your opponents. There's also a skull icon that gives the player a random disease. You might start dropping bombs uncontrollably, or you might lose the ability to drop them at all. You might gain superspeed, making it really tough to avoid explosions. The best part is that you can pass the disease along by touching other players, so in some cases it's actually worth the effort to get infected, just to forcibly convert your friends. The last player standing when the smoke clears wins the round. There are multiple levels to play on, each with its own unique feature, such as a conveyor belt, more unbreakable blocks, and so on. All of this adds up to a simple but incredibly addictive game that's OK by yourself, because you can turn on CPU-controlled opponents for the multiplayer mode. But it's really a game that you'll want to play with several others, and it's awesome that you can get five controllers hooked up to the Wii for a full game.
Graphically, Bomberman '93, and the other TurboGrafx-16 games currently available don't look as sharp as some of the other emulated games on the service. While most games have a hard, pixelated edge to them, Bomberman '93 looks a little blurry. But the charm of the Bomberman character comes through loud and clear, and this game still looks decent more than a decade later. The music and sound effects are basic but functional.
While the single-player's awfully dull, the multiplayer more than makes up for that. If you're looking for a great game to play with friends, Bomberman '93 is one of the Wii's best so far, especially for six bucks.