Bomberman clones have been a thing for years on end, be it browser based games such as Pony Wood or full-fledged clones such as Bombslinger, which was recently released for the Nintendo Switch. This brings us to a somewhat ambitious project by the name of Blast Zone! Tournament, which promises online matches that allow 32 players to duke it out at once. While this certainly sounds like a blast we were greeted by a desolate wasteland that only spawned forth AI opponents who were scripted to perfectly know the blast range of every player’s bombs. Annoyance ensued before we even properly started our online adventure.
At the beginning of the game you’ll get a small intro about a game show that attracts millions of candidates, but you end up being the chosen one. You’ll be able to participate in the Blast Zone! Tournament and that’s all there is to it. Does the story need a more elaborate plot? Not really. Is the current plot any good? Not really.
Graphically Blast Zone! Tournament isn’t that bad to look at, the game has cutesy graphics, and there are plenty of backdrops making the game somewhat diverse. The many character customizations allow your character to stand out, but it does take some time to properly unlock new costumes, haircuts, faces, etc for you to truly create something unique. The animations the game has are sufficient and overall you’re in for a very colorful experience with a proper overview. The only mishap might be the fact that the borders of the arenas don’t show proper depth, making it seems as if the border is also accessible to walk on during a normal match. When you’re thrown into a new setting, it sometimes is unclear which items you can destroy, and which are the static items that will remain in place, shielding you from other (or your own) bombs.
The game does come with some upbeat music, but the sound gets toned down when you’re actually playing a match, fading the music to the background. The sound effects are properly done, but the game is very basic in its sound design. Of course, there is only so much a Bomberman clone can offer, and what’s there is certainly sufficient.
Blast Zone! Tournament is a Bomberman clone, making it an arcade experience. You can play offline, going through a sort of ‘tutorial’ career, or you can dive into the deep end and start playing online. Sadly, the online servers are more dead than your local cemetery, which means you’ll just play against AI opponents. Overall this wouldn’t be a bad thing, if these opponents weren’t horribly scripted. The AI competitors know the blast range of every other player on the map, which means you can only kill them when you entrap them between bombs, because otherwise the snappy little cunts will wait until your bomb explodes, standing one tile away from the blast radius. The AI perfectly knows how many power-ups you have picked up, and they know this about every other player. When you’re in the midst of an AI party, you’ll notice that pretty much none of your opponents will die, except for that one poorly scripted AI.
During the matches you can pick up power-ups, which increase your blast radius, the amount of bombs you can drop, the bombs exterior and the ability to kick them across the aisle you drop them in. This is pretty standard Bomberman stuff, but it’s properly scripted. You can remap the buttons when playing with the keyboard, and you can also hook up a controller if you fancy playing with one.
The game does have a few different modes, but sometimes the objectives aren’t clear. We sometimes came out on top, even though we didn’t kill anyone, and sometimes dead last, with multiple kills. There are modes in which you simply respawn in a deathmatch kind of fashion, but during others you respawn as a zombie, and you’ll have to hunt your opponents. The different modes are present, it’s just unclear what everything does.
Playing matches grants you tidbits of experience, and when leveling up, you can spin the wheel to gain new cosmetic upgrades, such as new outfits, new faces, hats, skin colors, eye colors, and so on. Overall this creates a certain goal for you to press forward, but overall the lack of actual players and the extremely annoying AI opposition make you navigate towards the Quit button rather than playing another match.
Blast Zone! Tournament is an ambitious project, with some decent ideas in place, such as the many different backdrops and some different modes that switch up the gameplay. Sadly, the game is hampered by its lack of actual players, the slow leveling, the extremely annoying AI and an overall unpolished experience. This game might be worth it when it attracts players, but as it stands now, it’s a dead online game that causes more annoyance than it would grant you fun.
Blast Zone! Tournament – Review,