Bombermen are being built and must destroy each other in order to fight their way to the surface of the Earth and escape. Players can customize their character including their gender. The game is viewed from an overhead perspective like other Bomberman titles. The levels have a number of pillars throughout that require players' characters to navigate down hallways; there are sometimes obstacles in these paths that can only be destroyed by bombs. The bombs are also necessary to defeat opponents. An alternate mode called "First-Person Battle" where players view the action from behind the player-character and are able to maneuver the camera. In the standard mode, the Bomberman can be killed by a single bomb (including their own); in FPB mode, they are given a life meter and can take multiple hits. In both modes, the Bombermen can pick up different power-ups (including speed, bomb count, bomb strength, and bomb duration). Both modes last for 99 floors; if the player-character dies, players must restart from the beginning. The game features an online-only battle mode called "world battle" which supports up to eight players.
Bomberman: Act Zero has received overwhelmingly negative reception from both critics and fans alike for its long loading times, bad collision detection, forgettable soundtrack, use of the same textures and graphics for every stage, tedious and repetitive gameplay, lack of a save feature, unbalanced A.I. and the series' unwelcome shift to a darker and more futuristic setting. The First-Person Bomberman mode was also criticized for its bad camera angles and the fact that it is played in a third-person perspective rather than a first-person perspective. It holds an average score of 34 from Metacritic.Yahoo! Games' Mike Smith felt that the designers didn't understand what made Bomberman great. He criticized its "generic, gritty brushed-metal-and-armor heroes".GamePro 's Patrick Shaw felt that it shouldn't be used to introduce players to the series and that fans of the games should skip it. In the March '07 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, SeanBaby listed Bomberman: Act Zero as one of the Top 10 Worst Games of 2006, describing it as "the Bomberman game that sucks."