Like the recent Bomberman 64 for the Nintendo 64, Saturn Bomberman Fight is a break from the long-established line of Bomberman games, wherein you clear stage after stage of obstacles, enemies, and bosses by strategically planting bombs then running like hell. The multiplayer mode really made the series, setting a gaggle of friends and/or computer players against each other in obstacle and power-up-laden environments. Bomberman 64 essentially changed the basics of Bomberman (which had remained largely the same for years) by bringing the single-player mode into a 3D Super Mario 64-style world, clearing many of the obstacles and shrinking the arenas in multiplayer, and automatically giving the character several of the abilities he'd normally get through power-ups. All said, B64 effectively neutered Bomberman of fun.
Saturn Bomberman Fight, however, is a much more successful effort toward bringing the B-Man into the third dimension, while keeping the original feel intact. Perhaps most noteworthy is that it's the first to bring the addictive multiplayer duel nature into the once-dull single-player mode. In B-Fight, you now square off against one or two computer opponents at a time on a variety of flat or hilly isometric-perspective screens, which have from many to only a few obstacles to blow up. The multiplayer mode simply brings up to four players (computer or otherwise) into this setting. Unlike before, a single blast will not wipe you or your opponents out. In fact, it might take quite a few. A life bar is visible showing you how much more damage you can take, as is a blast meter, representing how much boom is behind your bombs, and icons that denote which, if any, power-up you're using at the time.
That's not all that's changed, however, and unlike in B64, these changes are not for the worst. You start off with the ability to jump, drop three bombs, and throw. Power-ups are now unexplodeable and (more often than not) unmarked, so folks could as easily happen upon a much-desired blast boost, extra bomb, or speedup as they could a better-avoided control reverse, slowdown, or anti-jump. The bombs aren't quite the same either. Unlike those found in most Bomberman games (which are on flat grids), the basic blasts don't simply fan out straight and level in four directions. And yet, they're neither the 3D explosions of Bomberman 64. Instead, the average bomb will shoot out in four directions, and if it's on a ridge or a hill, the flame trails will head down in a semirealistic arc. The most coveted of the power-ups in Saturn Bomberman Fight however seems like a holdover from B64. The circular blast of the big bomb will at its lowest charge take up about a fourth of the screen, and at its highest, more than half. The inner area of the explosion will eat up a life bar right quick, though the outer ring is much less damaging and will mostly just char your character's butt.
Gone are the multicolored dragons and kangaroos of old, but in their place is a lone Yoshi-like horse. This fellow not only eats bombs whole, he protects his rider from any damage, simply booting him off and running away when blasted, instead of expiring like the faithful servants who came before him. In some ways, that's a shame though, as his continued existence can sometimes make for cheap gameplay. But since occasionally he doesn't show up at all, it can be excused.
While the multiplayer gameplay of Saturn Bomberman Fight isn't nearly as entertaining as some of the classic titles in the series, it's different enough to be refreshing and, hands down, is a much better game than Bomberman 64. It's really a welcome surprise for fans who worried that the series might be going downhill. Since the possibility of Sega of America releasing the title here in the States is nearly impossible, it's quite worth figuring out how to track down an import copy (and how to play it on your system, if you haven't before).