Bomberman is a character that has been around for quite some time. On many different formats, the little guys that try to destroy each other have been one of the most popular and long lasting franchises. Hudson Soft have decided to go down a different path for the PS2 version including the classic Bomberman series as well as a few new game modes to play around with,but ultimately you will find yourself hooked and stuck on the original and the best.
Bomberman PS2 tries to take the series in a new direction and somewhat fails. The success of Super Monkey Ball may have sparked this because it seems that's the direction Hudson wanted. The thing is that they went a bit over the top and forgot to include what makes Monkey Ball so great - long lasting playability, unlockable games and generally lots of mini games not found elsewhere. Hudson decided that sports was the way to go, but that was the first mistake.
The other mistake is a mode called life mode. Now this is meant to be a tamagotchi of Bomberman which is kind of cool but it just doesn't work at all because you basically don't do anything. You don't launch the games from there, the campaign mode for Bomberman is elsewhere and generally you just look at Bomberman walking around and sleeping in his house. It's kind of whack and really you will spend five minutes with it, if only to see what the game has to offer.
The main game mode is the Bomberman mode where you can play single player or multiplayer and you run around picking up things to help you and dropping bombers to destroy blocks and other players. It's a formula which has worked for Hudson for almost twenty years and still continues to work. The game is so simplistic yet addictive, and is definitely a strong case for gameplay over graphics. On the flipside if you haven't liked Bomberman in the past, you probably won't like it now.
The other section of the game contains three sports games; baseball, golf and tennis. The games do have some elements of Monkey Ball in that they aren't overly realistic but in an interesting twist they have stats on the level of something like an EA game which doesn't suit the game at all but doesn't really affect the game either. The game's play quite well but do have a bit of a "my first studio max game" feeling. They are a nice distraction from the main game however. What we found interesting was that the games are unlocked right away rather than as you play the main game, which does not lend itself to much replay value.
Other than that there isn't much new to speak of as Hardball focuses on what made the game so great in the first place Visuals for the old bomberman game are pretty much the same as ever with the top down view and old style graphics being replaced by more modern ones for the sports modes. Sound effects are again like the older games but if it aint broke don't fix it.
Bomberman Hardball is a game that should be played by Bomberman fans but despite the new mini games, is unlikely to get people into the series if they don't already like it. It was a nice try by Hudson but next time, stick to something which worked even though it may feel a little ancient on the latest consoles.