Bomberman (ボンバーマン Bonbāman, also briefly known as Dyna Blaster in Europe) is a strategic, maze-based video game franchise originally developed by Hudson Soft and currently owned by Konami. The original game was published in 1983 and new games have been published at irregular intervals ever since. Today, Bomberman has featured in over 70 different games on numerous platforms (including all Nintendo platforms save for the 3DS and Wii U. One was planned for the 3DS, but was later cancelled), as well as several anime and manga. This franchise is one of the most commercially successful of all time. The most recent iteration, Super Bomberman R, was released in 2017.
Most games in the Bomberman franchise largely revolve around two modes of play; single player campaigns where the player must defeat enemies and reach an exit to progress through levels, and multiplayer modes where players must attempt to eliminate each other and be the last one standing. Gameplay involves strategically placing down bombs, which explode in multiple directions after a certain amount of time, in order to destroy obstacles and kill enemies and other players. The player can pick up various power-ups, giving them benefits such as larger explosions or the ability to place more bombs down at a time. The player is killed if they touch an enemy or get caught up in a bomb's explosion, including their own, requiring players to be cautious of their own bomb placement. In addition to the main maze-based Bomberman games, some spin-off titles involve adventure, platformer, puzzle, and kart racing gameplay.
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The game was originally developed for home computers in Japan by Shinichi Nakamoto. However, he did the port to the Famicom in one marathon programming session that lasted 72 hours. This version went on to sell over a million copies.
The games are set somewhere in a galaxy known as the Bomber Nebula, usually on Bomberman's home planet, Planet Bomber. The original Japanese home computer games had no real storyline. Bomberman for Famicom/NES and Atomic Punk for Game Boy begin with "Bomberman" (the eponymous character of the game) who worked day in and day out making bombs in an underground factory of the Bungeling Empire, but he dreamed of liberty, so he plotted his escape. After hearing a rumor that robots reaching the surface become human, he decides to escape. He was aided by the only skill he knew, bombmaking, by using the bombs to destroy enemies preventing his escape and clearing blocked walls. When he reaches the surface, he transforms into an organic human being and becomes known as the "Runner." This storyline is not present in some versions, such as Bomberman Party Edition, and this setting was largely abandoned but for connections with Hudson's Lode Runner games and Bomberman: Act Zero. In the Bomberman for the TurboGrafx-16, Bomberman is used as a prototype for further Bomberman robots by Dr. Mitsumori.
To distinguish him from other Bombermen, the main character is given the name White Bomberman (or White Bomber). In earlier appearances, the second Bomberman model (known as Black Bomberman) is an enemy due to a programming error, but starting with Super Bomberman, the two have forged an alliance. They have joined forces to handle bigger threats, most notably the evil alien Professor Bagura, who is most infamously known as the creator of the Five Dastardly Bombers. Paths were also crossed with an intergalactic crime organization called the Hige-Hige Bandits (led by Mujoe and MechaDoc), as well as a mysterious rival known as Regulus. There is no central series antagonist, but these are the most common foes.
Bomberman appears to be part of an intergalactic police force to help protect the galaxy. This has been elaborated upon in later games, where a friendly figure named Dr. Ein directs Bomberman's objectives. There is also Bomber Base on Planet Bomber, where Bomberman trains daily. After the shapeshifter (if fed) Pommy was introduced, Charaboms became a part of the gameplay in some later single player games. A Bomberman model called Max also became a semi-regular member.
- Bomberman, also referred to as "White Bomberman", "White Bomber", "Cheerful White" (in Bomberman Land Touch!), "Bomber John" (in Bomberman Touch), and (in Japan) "Shirobon", is the hero of the series. In the standard games, he is the protagonist and player-character. He is usually portrayed as the heroic yet cheerful type, often saving his home planet from disaster. Like all Bombermen, he has the ability to generate bombs in his hands. In later games, such as Bomberman Max and Bomberman Tournament, he is shown to be part of an interplanetary police force stationed at Bomber Base. The White Bomberman also made appearances in other games, such as Wario Blast, a Bomberman game featuring Nintendo mascot Mario's rival, Wario (although that was not the case in Japan). He also appears in DreamMix TV World Fighters—a Hudson fighting game with characters from Hudson Soft, Konami, and Takara, and in the Nintendo fighting game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as a non-playable Assist Trophy. He even makes a giant playable appearance in Star Parodier, a spoof of the Star Soldier series, which is also developed by Hudson Soft. He has been featured in three anime series; Bomberman B-Daman Bakugaiden and Bomberman B-Daman Bakugaiden V are based on the marble shooting game B-Daman, while Bomberman Jetters inspired the video game of the same name. In the anime Bomberman Jetters, he had an older brother named Mighty.
- Black Bomberman ("Cool Black" in Bomberman Land Touch!) looks identical to Bomberman, only he is colored black and doesn't have white pants. In many of his first appearances, he was shown to be the main rival of Bomberman, often performing acts such as robbing banks to fight him. He eventually becomes a gradual friend of Bomberman, and acts as the second player in the two-player story modes of the games. Hudson has given him a cool and collected personality in the later games. In his first appearance, he also led Red Bomber, Blue Bomber, Green Bomber, and Yellow Bomber.
- Max first appears in Bomberman Max as one of the main characters. He is somewhat competitive and arrogant, as shown in his first appearance that despite the urgency of the mission, he challenges Bomberman to a contest to who can gather the most Charaboms. Max wears a black suit of armor with a helmet that completely hides his face. He is also a playable character in the game Bomberman Jetters, where he joins Bomberman in the fight against the Hige Hige Bandits again, and he is an unlockable character for the battle mode of Bomberman Generation. He is also unlockable in Bomberman 2 DS. His backstory is greatly expanded upon in Bomberman Tournament, revealing him to be a native of the planet Phantarion who became a cyborg due to injuries sustained during the first invasion attempt of the Five Dastardly Bombers.
- Dr. Ein is a scientist who assists Bomberman. He is eccentric and doesn't seem to show many emotions. He is fat, has white spiky hair, and glasses with spirals covering the lenses. Despite never having a playable appearance, one of the customization sets in Bomberman Live lets Bomberman wear Dr. Ein's lab coat and glasses.
- Charabon (also known as Karabon) are small creatures that help Bomberman progress by granting him abilities. First appearing in Bomberman Max, each game featuring Charabon feature a unique set of them. Bomberman often finds Charabon trapped in cages, and he can partner with one to use its ability. He can also fuse them together and battle them against others. Pommy is a recurring Charabon, who first appears in Bomberman 64: The Second Attack, where he is a loyal, but cowardly sidekick and a mimic. He is capable of shooting lightning and taking on many different forms. In Bomberman Tournament, he can teleport. Charabons have four possible elemental attributes, of which they can have up to three: Fire, represented by dinosaurs and dragons; Water, represented by fish and mollusks; Earth, represented by beasts; and Electric, represented by Pommy's various forms. The elemental attributes have a simple rock-paper-scissors relationship, with Water being strong against Fire, Fire being strong against Earth, Earth being strong against Electric, and Electric being strong against Water (Water and Earth are neutral against each other and usually don't harm each other; the same is true of Fire and Electric).
- Louie (also known as Rooney) are kangaroo-like animals with rabbit ears who help Bomberman by letting him ride on their backs. In Super Bomberman 4, they were replaced by various animals, and in Saturn Bomberman by the dinosaur-like Tyra / Tirra.
- The Fiendish Bombers (a.k.a. the Five Dastardly Bombers) are a gang of five recurring boss enemies in several games of the series. Magnet Bomber sports a scarf-like cape and has a magnet shape attached to his helmet, and uses bombs that are attracted to his enemies. Golem Bomber is much larger than the others and he utilizes fire bombs. Pretty Bomber is distinguished from her male counterparts by her pink skirt, yellow neckerchief, and the large yellow heart attached to her helmet. She also appears as a close friend to Bomberman in several games, where both White and Black Bomber are attracted to her. Brain Bomber is the engineer of the group, who wears a cloak and has the symbol of a crown on his helmet. He is shorter than the other characters and sometimes floats above the group. Plasma Bomber is the leader. Plasma Bomber wears a neckerchief and has a lightning bolt attached to his helmet that can create electric currents.
- Professor Bagura (also known as Bagular, Burglar or Bugler) is the main villain in many of the games. He resembles a blue and white, large, elderly man with a bushy white beard, a monocle, and a cape. He first appears as the main villain of Bomberman '94, in which he attempts to run a comet-disguised ship into Planet Bomber after throwing it into chaos. He later appears in several games, including Super Bomberman 3, Super Bomberman 4, Bomberman Hero, Bomberman World, and Neo Bomberman. In some odd appearances, he is reduced to a brain that wants to rebuild an empire and wants revenge on Bomberman. In the anime, he is the true leader of the Hige Hige Bandits, with Mujoe as his second-in-command. Dr. MechaDoc also serves the group by creating technology, such as the Hige-Hige Bandits, small robotic minions who are very weak and serve under Mujoe.
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