Out now on Steam and Playstation 4, Blast Zone! Tournament offers up plenty more Bomberman for fans – sans the name itself. It’s coming out on Xbox One next month, but we already played the PS4 version.
Although a new name to me, Blast Zone! Tournament is actually part of a series – but Blast Buddies and the original Blast Zone didn’t get a console release and weren’t developed by Victory Lap Games either. A small and unknown studio, their members previously worked on titles such as Ratchet & Clank, Resistance: Fall of Man, Descent and Red Faction.
But while those games are classics in their own right, Blast Zone! Tournament immediately and constantly reminds you of Bomberman, as it’s a game that doesn’t hide its inspirations. So, assuming you’re familiar with Bomberman, you pretty much instantly know if this is a game you’ll enjoy or not.
Visually, the game’s mostly a throwback to the Bomberman games of earlier generations – last year’s Super Bomberman R looks more like a next generation version of the concept than Blast Zone does. There are a few gameplay innovations that make this one interesting though, even if there’s also plenty that’s familiar.
For one, you can play Blast Zone! Tournament as a single player game during its campaign. There’s a story, but as is pretty much always the case with games of this type, it mainly serves to string together the actual gameplay. Following a classic Bomberman pattern, your adventure takes you through several different visual settings, but without ever really offering you something you haven’t seen before. You can lay down bombs, push them along corridors, kick them over obstacles… none of this will surprise you.
Blast Zone! Tournament reserves its surprises for its multiplayer portion. Have you ever considered Bomberman with up to 32 players at once? Blast Zone! Tournament makes it a reality, and it’s absolute madness as the incredibly popular Battle Royale type of gameplay clashes with the classic Bomberman formula. Most rounds start with an emphasis on short term survival, and any kind of strategy doesn’t come in until the horde’s been thinned out a little.
Victory Lap Games also included a ton of other multiplayer modes, many of them inspired by popular modes from other genres. There’s a zombie mode, a Splatoon-like mode where you paint tiles and hope to control as many as possible, and a personal favorite of mine – asymmetrical multiplayer. Here, one player starts with pretty much all his powers maxed out, and all the other players have to work together to kill him three times before he uses his arsenal to wipe all of them off the map.
All the thematic backdrops from the single player mode return in multiplayer, and there are maps of all layouts and sizes to play on. More content also comes in the way of loot that you gradually unlock, but it’s all cosmetic stuff and Blast Zone! Tournament lacks the visual flair to make any of it feel meaningful.
While Blast Zone! Tournament is a perfectly fine Bomberman experience, it doesn’t quite do enough to shed its mobile game origins. As a single player game it’s something we’ve seen before, and visually it’s something that could have run on a last gen console as well (without 4K support, but still). The biggest appeal lies with the multiplayer mode, with a few novel ideas added to a familiar concept.
If you’re perfectly content with your current Bomberman experience then you might want to give this one a miss, but if you love its multiplayer modes and are curious to see which other directions it can be taken in, then Blast Zone! Tournament is a fun and affordable option.