It’s time to play some Bomberman! But wait: what happened to Hudson’s iconic hero? This isn’t the classic we are used to. No sir, it isn’t. So, now I have your attention, let me tell you about one of the best Bomberman-inspired games I have ever had the opportunity to try: Blast Zone! Tournament.
Blast Zone! Tournament (or Stronda! Torneio – one of the few games I can remember in the latest years to use a different name according to your region) was born as Bomb Buddies in the distant year of 2011, a Facebook game that, if you forgive me the pun, was a blast back in the day. Fast forward to 2014 and we have Blast Zone, an iOS version of the game with the same multiplayer features from the original game plus a fun single-player campaign. And now in 2019, Victory Lap Games brings us Blast Zone! Tournament, a game that has a lot of inspiration and similarities to the timeless classic Bomberman (and the developer doesn’t hide it). Now for the question you may be asking yourself, let’s check if BZT is just a copy from the original game or have enough characteristics to live on its own. Shall we?
- Visuals: With colorful and highly defined graphics, BZT is a delight for your eyes! Your character has fully customizable visuals through items that you can unlock in loot boxes (we will talk about it later) and good animations, with a child-friendly atmosphere. Arenas are well designed and visual of your bomb explosions do not disappoint.
- Gameplay: If you ever played a Bomberman game or one of its clones (haven’t you? C’mon, what planet have you been living in for the last 30 years?), let me explain it to you: you and your opponents are stuck in an arena where you must defeat each other. To do so, you must use your only weapons: bombs! This arena where you are stuck has lots of destructible blocks that must be destroyed to open a path for you and to unlock abilities and power-ups to make things easier. By picking powerups, you can increase your movement speed, the reach of your blasts and the number of bombs you can use at the same time all up to nine. With them, destroy your enemies and be the number one in this competition!
- Audio: The music and sound effects in BZT do a very good job. The music has a party vibe that makes it difficult to stay put in your couch. The narration localized to my language (as well as the entire game) makes me believe it may be localized to many other idioms, making it even more welcoming to players from all the world.
- Multiplayer mayhem: BZT can be enjoyed in single-player with hundreds (I’m no kidding) of challenges for you to complete, but it is in its multiplayer modes where the game actually shines! With modes like Free-for-all, Bomb blasts (where explosions paint floor tiles), Coin collect, King mode and more, playing solo or in teams, there’s a big variety of game modes for you to compete with up to 32 players (8 local or 32 online with cross-play). Be ready to face a fierce online competition that won’t make things easy for you! Fortunately, you can play in exhibition modes to practice before venturing into the ranked modes.
- Bomberman… clone? I cannot unsee the similarities between Blast Zone! Tournament and the classic from Hudson. And you will have this exact same feeling from the moment you start your first match. Is this similarity such a bad thing? Well, it depends. If you are a fan of the Bomberman series, you may find Blast Zone! Tournament extremely appealing. But for those who wanted some more innovation or originality… well… Let’s just ignore it…
- The showman! Before each level in single-player mode, there’s a quick interaction between the host and the NPCs responsible for the show. Although it tries to simulate some funny interaction behind the curtains of the show, the dialog between them is in anything but funny or interesting. It’s cool to have some… ahn… motivation behind the challenges of the single-player mode. But this motivation doesn’t really motivate at all.
- Player progression: Playingin single-player mode, you earn stars after completing challenges that give you access to further levels and tougher challenges. And after each challenge or multiplayer match, you receive experience points according to your performance. These experience points are used in a level system that does little for the player, except for showing how much time you invested in the game. And every time you level up, you gain a ticket to try the game loot box, a roulette where you can unlock cosmetic items to customize the appearance of your character.
- Overpowered: It may sound I’m grumbling a little too much but the amount of powerups available in each level is way too much. While in Bomberman you rarely had a powerup that could tilt the balance of the game in your favor, here you can quickly reach the maximum level of each one of your abilities in no time (even before killing your first enemy). Well, maybe I’m just acting like an old fart comparing BZT with the game it takes inspiration from.
- Achievements? What for? Although it doesn’t interfere with the game overall score, the achievements… better saying, the number of victories required to unlock some of them is insane. If you are a completionist, I strongly recommend you stay away from this game.
There’s no way to talk about Blast Zone! Tournament without making comparisons to Bomberman, but the title from Victory Lap Games has enough content and potential to become a good substitute for the fans of the series or to become the star of a gaming night with friends. Funny, challenging and addictive, you are certainly going to lose sight of how many hours you will spend with this game. And if you have friends to play with on your couch, it’s even better! If you are a fan of the little Hudson’s robot, you should give it a try right now!
Developer: Victory Lap Games Publisher: Victory Lap Games
Played on: Xbox One X Also available on: PC, Switch, PS4
Time to beat: A wild guess of more than one hundred hours
Achievement difficulty for 1000 Gamerscore: The developers of this game were really unhappy by defining the Achievements for it. The amount of playtime required for some of them is nearly absurd. It tops the Gears of War’s Seriously 3.0
Perfect for: Bomberman fans.
Xbox Game Store link: Click here
With a history of gaming that goes from his old man’s Atari 2600 to his Xbox One, Rafael or RAF687, our Brazilian editor, has a love for games as old as he can remember. He has already spent countless hours in many consoles (Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and Xbox 360) and is always ready for more (as long as his wife is asleep). Raf has been writing for LifeisXbox since 2017, with a passion for games of almost all genres – though we know he has a special place in his heart for RPGs, racing games and anything that includes pixel art. Writing about games has always been a childhood dream to Raf, dream that he has fulfilled reviewing games for you here. You can drop him a message at Twitter, Facebook or Xbox Live at any time.