Super Bomberman 4

Super Bomberman 4 - Super Famicom (1996)

This entry is part 19 of 22 in the series Bomberman

Just two months before the release of the Nintendo 64, Super Bomberman 4 arrived on the Super Famicom as the first Super entry entirely exclusive to Japan.1996 was an eventful year for the Bombermanseries – the Japanese releasesof Saturn Bomberman, Bomberman GB 3, and Bomberman B-Daman all occurredin this same year, ensuring that fans on any remotely relevant or successful console were being served in some way except for the Playstation, which wouldn’t see an entry until 1998.It seems strange to still be releasing Super Famicom games at this point, but White Bomberman and the crew did have some loose ends to wrap up within the Super subseries, after all.

Bagura may have been reduced to nothing more than a brain in a ship after his defeat in Super Bomberman 3, but that doesn’t stop him from returning to try and defeat the Bombers one last time (within the 16-bit Super Bomberman entries, anyway). This time around, he calls upon the Four Bomber Kings, led by Great Bomber, to pursue the Bomberman crew, send them back in time, and then eliminate them so that they never return. Super Bomberman 4 is thus a journey through history, bringing you through the prehistoric era, the Edo period of Japan, what’s supposed to be modern day society, and the distant future, culminating in a trip to subspace where every boss and Bomber King you’ve previously encountered comes back together for one last confrontation. This game serves as the only appearance of the Four Bomber Kings and Great Bomberwithin the story of a Bomberman game, but they do show up in Bomberman Party Edition as playable characters.

Super Bomberman 4 rejects some of the familiarity of the previous entry in exchange for several new ideas that don’t dramatically change the proceedings, but do at least inject them with some new life. The biggest change is with regard to mounts; Louie is no longer present here and has been replaced by the ability to ride many of the enemies you encounter throughout the game. Monsters come in two types, biological and mechanical, and each one has a unique ability of some kind. Some of them are dedicated to copying the previously available Louie options, but other monsters give you access to a significant buff as long as you continue to ride or allow you to shoot projectiles to defeat, stun, or slow enemies down. A chosen few are downright game-breaking with their abilities – the birdlike Haguhagu lets you instantly remove every soft block in the level with the press of a button! Defeating rideable enemies gets you their egg and you can also collect multiple eggs of the same type to carry behind you. This serves as a generous safety net, allowing you to use multiple mounts as a shield if needed, but it does come with the catch that the eggs are vulnerable at all times. If enemies hit your eggs or bomb blasts consume you, they’ll be destroyed in a flash, bringing you back to square one. This encourages more caution than would normally be required since Super Bomberman 4 is one of the easiest entries up to this point. However, the eggs can be difficult to wrangle into a safe location when multiple blasts are going off in small arenas or during boss fights.

Cooperative play returns once again, but this time, new co-op exclusive features have been added to sweeten the deal. Players can now throw each other with the Power Glove, allowing for fun strategies like skipping past soft blocks to get to faraway foes and also for chaotic trickery like intentionally screwing your friend over by throwing them into harm’s way. The main perk of this ability, though, lies in granting you access to the bonus stages, which haven’t been seen in the series since the second arcade game. These stages are accessed by either throwing someone over to where they are, since they’re completely blocked off by hard blocks, or by both players using the new “Push” item together to push hard blocks and reveal an entrance. Entering these bonus stages is tremendously beneficial as they allow you to gather up as many items as possible within 30 seconds. If you don’t have a co-op partner, you won’t be able access these stages at all, which is unfortunate. You still won’t be completely alone on your journey, though, thanks to the introduction of caged Bombers that can be released to assist you in stages. They’ll wander around and place bombs to clear out blocks and (hopefully) defeat enemies, which is a nice thing to have when they’re not getting in your way.

As robust as Super Bomberman 3’s multiplayer was, the fourth game still finds ways to up the ante even further. Aside from the usual Battle Mode, this game introduces “Champion Mode” and “Manic Mode”, two very different ways to engage in the multiplayer. Champion Mode is essentially the Bomberman equivalent of the “No Items, Fox Only, Final Destination” meme years before Super Smash Bros. Melee became a popular competitive game; in this mode, all battles are fought as 1v1s against computer opponents with no items to pick up, no environmental hazards to deal with, and absolutely nothing else to get in the way of two characters duking it out with no more than a handful of starting power-ups. This mode can alsobe played in co-op if you wish and completing it earns you a credits roll, making it something of an alternate single player arcade-like mode tucked away in the multiplayer section. Maniac Mode is essentially Battle Mode but with two extra options – the ability to determine which items are available and how many of each can be found and the amount of hits players need to take before they’re eliminated. This allows for a fun spin on the usual multiplayer since players can now concoct strange rules or give less skilled players more of a fighting chance.

The only characters available in multiplayer this time around are Bomberman, the Bomber Kings, and Great Bomber, but to make things more interesting, each character (except Bomberman) has unique abilities they can activate. For example, Great Bomber has the ability to become completely invincible for a short period of time in exchange for being unable to move, whereas Jet Bomber has a charge attack using his jets that demolishes anyone in the way. These deadly powers do have a significant catch to balance them out – upon using them, you’ll be reduced to the minimum power level for a period of time, leaving you open to a counterattack you may not be able to escape from. Hammer Bomber and Lady Bomber have powers that only stun and remove power-ups from foes, but their abilities don’t result in a temporary weakened state. These new abilities give the multiplayer more depth that makes your choice in character have meaning beyond aesthetics, something that lends itself well to Champion Mode.

Battle Mode features some of the most interesting stage gimmicks seen in the series yet. Some of the tricks you’ll encounter include sporadic speed boosts, orbs that can be utilized to stun other players, holes and cliffs that players can fall off of, an arena full of trap tiles with various degrees of dangerous effects, and even a slot machine that’ll pop out power-ups if you make a match. One of the stages is also home to the new “Cosplay” item, which makes its user transform into either Honey or Kotetsu, two of Hudson Soft’s mascot characters that appeared in various commercials, at various events, andwithin various mangas and would continue to do so alongside making appearances in multiple Bomberman games from here on out. In these commercials, Honey was played by Chiyomi Takahashi, who picked up the mantle from HarukaSawaguchi’s performance as Pretty Bomber. To differentiate the characters more, Honey has a cowgirl outfit and is a bounty hunter who works with the samurai Kotetsu in the pursuit of riches. Both characters are playable in future titles like Neo Bombermanand Saturn Bomberman Fight!!.

Super Bomberman 4 feels like a perfect sendoff for both the Super Famicom and the Super subseries, what with its robust feature set and strong campaign, but there would still be two Super Famicom games to come. Super Bomberman 5 goes in an interesting direction, focusing on a non-linear approach to level progression while paying even more overt tribute to the previous games and changing up the visuals more significantly. Bomberman B-Daman is a spin-off and thus plays completely differently than anything in the main series. Some of Super Bomberman 4’s ideas would also be carried over to Neo Bombermana year later, which includes its monster riding and egg systems. It’s a shame that this game was never localized, but there is an unofficial translation available courtesy of Svambofor what little text the game has, making this one well worth playing as one of the peaks of the Super subseries.

Links – Footage of Chiyomi Takahashi at Hudson Caravan ‘95 – More Chiyomi Takahashi footage – Translation on



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