If you aren’t familiar with the name “Devil
Dice”, you probably aren’t a PlayStation game collector.
Released in June of `98, the addictive little puzzler went largely
unnoticed by the public at large until it was too late. Soon, out of
print copies were more valuable than gold as Devil Dice
joined the ranks of such rarities as Super Puzzle Fighter II
Turbo, Intelligent Cube, Xenogears, and
Suikoden II. Many wanted it merely for bragging rights, others
genuinely enjoyed the demo and longed for the full copy; either way,
most were left “S.O.L.” - so to speak. I myself am numbered among
the empty handed.
But the gaming gods, in their infinite mercy,
have seen fit to give us a second chance - Bombastic,
developed by SCEI and published by Capcom, is both a sequel to and
remake of Devil Dice, discount priced and available to all.
If you’ve spent every passing day regretting choosing dime-a-dozen,
now obsolete mega-hits like Tekken 3 over games like Devil
Dice, here’s your chance to avoid making the same mistake twice.
It won’t replace a physical copy of the Dice for you
collector types, nor will it depreciate the value of the original,
but it will satisfy those who just want to play the game without
having to resort to overpriced Internet auctions.
For the unfamiliar, the goal of Devil Dice
/ Bombastic is to line up the face values of dice in
order to clear the level. Link two twos, three threes, four fours,
and so on, to activate them. Connect more of the same number to
increase the chain, and hence, your score. However, unlike Devil
Dice, where activated dice sink into the ground, active dice in
Bombastic become ticking time bombs whose explosions trigger
devastating chain-reactions with dice of the same number or of one
number lower; an exploding group of fives can set off a nearby set
of threes who can then trip a pair of twos, and so on. Get caught in
one of these explosions, however, and it’s game over for you!
To further complicate things “Self Exploding
Dice” and “Wild Dice” have been thrown into the mix, increasing both
the chain reaction rate and danger level of later stages. If you
don’t like these changes to gameplay, however, you can stick to
“Classic Style”, which maintains the disappearing block rules of
Devil Dice, eliminating the whole explosion/chain
reaction/dieing factor, or try your hand at “Jumbo Style”, a hybrid
of Classic Style that allows players to pick up, throw, and
bunny-hop dice; both of which must be unlocked through the
If you’re still a bit confused, don’t worry;
there are handy in-game tutorials to get you all straightened out,
including ones that help you to understand the predictable patterns
of face-sides (opposite sides always add up to seven) and how to
roll dice to expose a specific side (L-shapes, C-shapes, etc).
Believe me when I say it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Ok, well
maybe it is as complicated as it sounds, but it’s nothing you can’t
handle after a few minutes of practice.
Like any good puzzle game, this simple concept
(it may not seem simple at first, but trust me, it is) hides both
depth and chaos. It requires a healthy amount of forethought and
just a touch of twitch reflexes, forcing gamers to rely on what was
once the backbone of gaming and has now been mostly relegated to the
niche genres of the nostalgic – personal skill. Pure, honest skill
honed by hours and hours of practice against nothing but a personal
best. Yup, this is high-score land, ladies and gentlemen, and anyone
who still craves this type of gameplay down to their very marrow
will get a lot of pleasure out of this game.
For one thing, there is no lack of variety in
Bombastic. This alone is pretty remarkable for a game of this
genre. On top of the three different styles of gameplay, there are
over seven different modes to choose from. Quest Mode provides fun
and challenging single-player scenarios, with a story no less! Yeah,
I know what you’re thinking, “A story? In a puzzle game?! WTF!?!” My
thoughts exactly, but what can you do, EVERYTHING has
to have a story nowadays. It’s the curse of Final Fantasy VII.
Still though, it’s not as painfully retarded as Super Monkey Ball’s.
Anyway, back to the review…
Trial Mode boasts a variety of sub-modes, all
storyless (thank God), including Standard Mode, where one or two
players must try and clear 100 levels before dieing; Limited, where
up to two players battle for the highest score in three minutes; and
Attack, where passwords acquired from the
Bombastic website unlocks new single-player goals. Want
something more aggressive, try Battle, where the first player to
clear four number sets wins, or better yet Wars mode, where five
players vie for points against a time limit. And, of course, what
puzzle game would be complete without a Time Attack Mode?
This wealth of modes and styles, when combined
with the series’ trademark addictive gameplay, insures Bombastic
with some serious replayability. Hell, look at the longevity
puzzlers like Mr. Driller, Intelligent Cube, and
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo have, and those games barely have
half a dozen modes between them! Come on, it’s Devil Dice
with a whole lot of icing on top, and who could ask for anything
Not that it matters, but the visuals and audio
aren’t half bad. They won’t be up for any awards, that’s for sure,
but there’s nothing negative to say about either of them. The
polygonal stages are crisp, clean, and colorful, but nearly
identical to those of Devil Dice. Luckily, the new cel-shaded
characters add both distinction and charm to Bombastic.
Creepy, slightly unsettling charm, but charm nonetheless. There are
no real technical problems to speak of either, like slow-down and
such, nor are their any camera or control issues. The soundtrack is
also pretty likeable, for background music, and the weird voices
ooze wacky Japanese goodness. Best of all, Capcom actually decided
to publish a game without that annoying Auto Modellista/Capcom
vs. SNK announcer-guy’s voice! Yippy!
But what puzzle gamer has ever let visuals or
audio stand in the way of a great experience, anyway, and
Bombastic is certainly a great experience. It manages to be both
an update and sequel to a game that many people are unable to get
their hands on, and insures its longevity with an impressive number
of single and multiplayer modes. If you missed Devil Dice the
first time around, you can’t afford to miss this one as well, and
with a retail price of $29.95, there’s little reason to put it off.