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Bombastic
Review By: J. Michael Neal
 
Developer:  SCEI
Publisher:  Capcom
# Of Players:  1-5
Genre:  Puzzle
ESRB:  Everyone
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card, Multitap
Date Posted:  12-7-03

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 single-player game.

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 official 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 more?

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.

HIGHS:

  • Numerous single and multiplayer modes.
  • Pleasing visuals and sound with no technical issues to speak of.
  • Tutorials explain the gameplay and advanced strategies well.
  • Low price point is always a good thing.
  • It’s a freakin’ sequel to Devil Dice for crying out loud! How many of us have waited years for something like this to come along?!

LOWS:

  • Some might find it a little too complex.
  • Someone actually bothered to write a story for this game.
  • Not everyone likes puzzle games because, you know, some people suck.

FINAL VERDICT:

Good for a quick five minute stab at that high score or a blurry-eyed, four hour marathon session, Bombastic is just what puzzle fans, old-schoolers, and empty-handed game collectors have been waiting for. If you fall into one of those categories, consider giving Bombastic a chance. You won’t regret it.

Overall Score: 8.6

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