Bomberman (NES)

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NES Bomberman cover.jpg

U.S. cover art
Developer(s): Hudson Soft
Publisher(s): JP: Hudson Soft
NA/EU: Nintendo
Platform(s): Famicom/NES, MSX, FC Disk, Palm, GBA
Release date(s): JP: December 19, 1985
NA: January 1987
MSX: 1986
FC Disk: April 24, 1990
Palm: December 14, 2001
GBA: February 14, 2004
Genre(s): Action, maze, strategy
Mode(s): Single player

Bomberman (ボンバーマン Bonbāman) is a video game developed by Hudson Soft. It is a port of Bomber Man, which introduced many concepts and the general artistic direction that would guide the rest of the series.



Title screen of the U.S. NES release.

U.S. manual:

Bomberman is a robot engaged in the production of bombs. Like his fellow robots, he had been put to work in an underground compound by evil forces. Bomberman found it to be an unbearably dreary existence. One day, he heard an encouraging rumor. According to the rumor, any robot that could escape the underground compound and make it to the surface could become human. Bomberman leaped at the opportunity, but escape proved to be no small task [sic] Alerted to Bomberman [sic] betrayal, large numbers of the enemy set out in pursuit. Bomberman can rely only on bombs of his own production for his defense. Will he ever make it up to the surface? Once there, will he really become human?[1]

Japanese manual:

キミはあのロードランナーのランナーくんの過去を知っているかい? じつはランナーくんも、むかしはロボットだったのだ。まだロボットだったランナーくんは、ボンバーマンとよばれ、爆弾を作る仕事をしていた。もちろんほかのロボットたちと同じように、悪の手先として地下迷宮のなかで働かされていたのだ。そんな宙日がいやでいやでたまらなかったボンバーマンは、ある日こんなうわさを耳にした。"地下迷宮を抜けだして地上に出れば、人間になれるらしい。"ボンバーマンはすぐに決心した。なんとか地上に出て、入間になろう。でも、そう簡単に地上に出られるわけがないのだ。裏切り者のボンバーマンをつかまえるために、たくさんの敵が追いかけてくる。ボンバーマンの武器は、自分で作った爆弾だけ。はたして地上に出ることができるのだろうか。そして、本当に入間になることができるのだろうか……。[2]

Japanese manual (English translation):

Do you know the history of the master runner Lode Runner? As a matter of fact, that master runner was formerly a robot. When the master Runner was still a robot called Bomberman, he was assigned to the job of manufacturing bombs. Of course, as with the other robots, he was forced to work in an underground labyrinth as a minion of evil. With unbearably little light and space, one day Bomberman heard a rumor. "It seems that one who escapes to the surface will become a human." Bomberman was immediately resolved. Somehow, he would make it to the surface and become a human. However, escape to the surface would not be so simple. Many enemies would give chase in order to capture the traitor Bomberman. Bomberman's only weapons are the bombs that he creates. Will he really be able to escape to the surface? And is it truly possible for him to become human?......[2]


At the end of the game, Bomberman escapes the underground labyrinth and transforms into a human named Lode Runner, setting the game up as a prequel to Hudson Soft's earlier title of the same name.


The first stage of the game.

The game is played from a top-down perspective. Each stage has a grid-like structure of indestructible hard blocks with hallways between them, and is the size of two screens, allowing for horizontal scrolling. Each stage begins with Bomberman in the upper-left corner as well as a set of enemy characters and randomly distributed soft blocks; however, if the exit door is hit with an explosion, it will spawn more enemies. One soft block per stage contains a power-up. The player controls Bomberman, moving him around and placing bombs to destroy soft blocks and enemy characters. A bomb's explosion reaches out in four linear directions, confined by the terrain. Bomberman's goal is to destroy all of the enemy characters and discover the exit in order to progress to the next stage.[1] There are fifty stages in total.

After every five stages, a bonus stage will begin. Bonus stages are empty stages populated by respawning enemy characters. In these stages, Bomberman is invincible. His objective is to destroy as many enemies as possible in order to rack up a higher score.[1]

When the player loses all of their lives, a password or "secret code" will appear.[2] This secret code can be entered by choosing the "continue" option on the main menu, allowing the player to continue the game.[1]


List of stages in Bomberman (NES)

In addition to the ordinary 50 stages, due to an imperfect password system, other "glitched" stages, such as "Phantom 0 Stage" and "Negative 254 Stage" can be reached by inputting improper passwords. [3]

Enemy Characters

The following enemy characters appear in this game:[2]


Though unlisted in the game's manuals, the following power-ups can be found in the game:

In addition, secret bonus items can appear under certain conditions:[4]

  • B Panel (10,000 points)
  • Goddess Mask (20,000 points)
  • Cola Bottle (30,000 points)
  • Famicom (500,000 points)
  • Nakamoto-san (10,000,000 points)
  • Dezeniman-san (20,000,000 points)


In 1980, Hudson Soft developed a faster BASIC compiler for their use in game development and wrote a simple game, called Bomber Man, to test it. The game was not very popular. Three years later, programmer Shinichi Nakamoto looked through Hudson Soft's old library for content to produce a new game and rediscovered Bomber Man. Nakamoto not only ported Bomber Man to the Famicom, but also heavily redesigned it. Taking inspiration from shooting games that were popular at the time, such as Hudson Soft's own Star Force ports (from which some bonus items were even derived), he implemented power-ups to increase the player's firepower and bomb capacity, as well other unique power-ups such as the Remote Control, which disappear upon death, adding another layer of complexity.[3]

Feeling that the protagonist of Bomber Man was uninspired ("just some middle-aged man wearing a hat"), Nakamoto repurposed the enemy sprites from Hudson Soft's port of Lode Runner for the protagonist, establishing a connection between the two games. Seven more enemy types were introduced, and were made to be cute rather than intimidating to stand out from other games of the time. He carried over the password system from Lode Runner.[3] Jun Chikuma was asked to compose the soundtrack, which became her first video game soundtrack.[5]

According to Hudson Soft executive Takahashi Meijin, the reason why the name of the game was changed from 爆弾男 (bakudan otoko) was because of an incident that had recently occurred. The U.S. Embassy and and Imperial Palace in Tokyo had been attacked the previous year with home-made rocket bombs. Because the ensuing investigation was still fresh in peoples' minds, the name was changed from the Japanese "bakudan" to the English "Bomber" to prevent mental comparisons.[6]


Bomberman was released in Japan on the MSX in 1986 under the title Bomberman Special. It has also received multiple other ports to other systems. As a bonus game mode, enhanced versions of it make an appearances in Bomber Boy and Bomberman Party Edition.


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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Bomberman Operation Manual, NES-BM-USA, Hudson Soft USA, 1989, pp. 2, 4-7
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 ボンバーマン 取扱説明書, HFC-BM, Hudson Soft, 1985, pp. 1, 6-8.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Super Bomberman Hudson Official Guidebook. Shogakukan, 1993, pp. 104-107.
  4. The Cutting Room Floor (7 May 2016). Bomberman (NES). Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  5. Super Bomberman 3 Original Sound Track, Hudson Soft, NTT Publishing Co., LTD, 1995.
  6. Famicom by HUDSON, GameSide, 2008, Vol. 10, February, p. 23.