It's all becoming clear now - Hudson is determined to kill its highly recognizable Bomberman license. Bomberman Wars is yet another rushed-out-the-door dud in Hudson's recent barrage of Bomberman spin-off titles.
Bomberland was a peaceful place, and the happy Bombermen lived their lives without fear. This is, until the Dark Bomber and his four elemental Bombers possessed the king and began terrorizing the land. As one might expect, it's up to the Bomberhero to lead a brave squad of Bomberfighters against this generic evil and free the land from his dark grasp. Obviously, Bomberman Wars isn't big on story. As a result, the game is largely devoid of text and explains anything story-esque with speechless CG cinemas, a great combination for importers.
Bomberman Wars' gameplay is an odd mixture of Final Fantasy Tactics and Bomberman, a combination that could have conceivably worked in another game. You build a team of up to five fighters from 12 generic RPG character classes and duke it out. Each class has two stats, movement and bombing distance. A witch, for example, can only move one unit but can teleport a bomb up to three units away. Unlike Final Fantasy Tactics, character movement is rather limited as you cannot move diagonally. Unless a power-up dictates otherwise, bombs will detonate after five turns. As one might expect, bombs will destroy bits of terrain as well, usually revealing power-ups. Power-ups are readily available during battle or at the store and come in all flavors, from movement-reducing shoes to dragons. You can go through the game's lengthy story mode or battle head-to-head with a friend.
The basic concept doesn't sound too bad on paper, which is probably how the game was approved in the first place. However, Bomberman Wars is as slow and soporific as games come in just about every way. Battles drag on seemingly forever. Like Bomberman Hero, you can't help but wonder why Hudson opted to put a multiplayer mode into Bomberman Wars, as these battles are as boring as the rest of the game, completely lacking the frenetic pace that made Bomberman a multiplayer classic in the first place. In addition to the sloth-like gameplay and lack of story, the game's aesthetics are nothing to get excited over, either. Graphically, Bomberman Wars is fueled by the most basic of 2D pre-rendered isometric graphics. Spell effects and the like are clunky, token uses of the PlayStation's transparency effects. Bomberman Wars' sound is equally uninspired, giving you only the most generic of cutesy medieval music and atypically boring sound effects for a Bomberman game.
Had Bomberman Wars received a little more attention and a little less marketing rush, there's a good chance that it could have been a solid title.