E3 06: Bomberman Act: Zero Hands-On

We pay a visit to Konami's E3 booth and get our hands on a single-player version of Bomberman's Xbox 360 debut.

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LOS ANGELES--Earlier today, during a visit to Konami's E3 booth, we were able to get our hands on a playable version of Bomberman Act: Zero on the Xbox 360 for the first time. The game sports dark, action-game-style visuals that could hardly be more different from the cute and colorful Bomberman games of old, but we're pleased to report that the classic gameplay appears to be largely unchanged.

The demo on display at E3 doesn't have any of the multiplayer features that are promised for the finished game, but the time we spent playing the game solo gave us a pretty good idea of what you can expect. Besides the dark visual style and almost Samus-like character models, the first thing you'll notice about Bomberman Act: Zero is that you can't see the entire map at once. It's possible to zoom the camera in and out to some extent while playing, but the fact that you're never quite sure if there's a bomb waiting to go off just outside your field of vision can make moving around the levels quite a cautious affair at times.

Bombs in Bomberman Act: Zero take the form of glowing balls of energy, and although they explode in much the same way as their classic Bomberman counterparts, you'll notice that the resulting corridors of fire linger around for a little longer than has been the case in previous games. This can make avoiding flames pretty challenging, but where coming into contact with flames meant instant death in previous Bomberman games, in Bomberman Act: Zero you instead have a health bar that takes a hit. There will be times, then, when your best course of action is to race through a fire that's in the process of dissipating in order to avoid a bomb that's about to go off.

The gameplay mode that we checked out on the show floor was essentially a survival-style game in which you'll be tasked with beating 99 increasingly difficult levels without losing a life and without an option to save your progress. The first level pitted us against only one enemy bomber, whose energy bar was already greatly depleted at the start, and subsequent levels introduced additional enemies, enemies with more health, and eventually both. The CPU-controlled enemies were intelligent enough to move away from many of our bombs, which made killing them especially difficult once the majority of the destructible walls that turn the levels into labyrinths had been cleared. Every level was played against a time limit, though, and when the time expired, the walls started closing in--making the playing area significantly smaller and giving the bombers far fewer places to hide.

No Bomberman game would be complete without power-ups, of course, and in Bomberman Act: Zero, as in previous games, you'll collect power-ups by destroying the walls that contain them. We didn't get to see any crazy power-ups during our time with the game, but we did manage to increase the number of bombs we could drop simultaneously, make them more powerful and able to kill enemies through walls, increase our movement speed, and replenish our health with them. Other power-ups in the game will include favourites from previous games, such as the ability to kick or throw bombs.

Further information on Bomberman Act: Zero is scarce at present, but we look forward to bringing you more on the game as soon as it becomes available. We can't wait to try this game out on Xbox Live.

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