XBlast on NetBSD

XBlast was created by Oliver Vogel and Garth Denley between 1993 and 2006. It is a multi-player game that is based on the Bomberman games which were popular on many old home consoles as early as 1983. I had never previously played a Bomberman game before so I have very little frame of reference for comparison to the older original games,  many of which I’ve read about have a similar multi-player facility. I built XBlast on my old Sparc hardware as I have done for many of the old X based Unix game. It built with out any problems and seems to run quite well even via XDMCP over the network. I haven’t tried building it on other platforms but I suspect that it would work on most Unix like systems.

The graphics for the game are colourful, and look fairly nice. Like I said they seem to work over the network with very little to no performance issues at all. The user interface has many options and I found it a little confusing to use, in particular when trying to use the network play options on what they call central. The game has an option for sound, but that did not work for me on the Sun platform so I can’t really comment on the quality of it.

There is no single player option really for this game, you can play multi-player games over a LAN, the internet, or on the local machine by sharing a keyboard or using multiple controllers. I wasn’t really able to get multi-player working, either because there is no-one on-line or because I couldn’t work out how to get the internet play working properly. I was able to play against an AI on the local machine and found the game was a little confusing to play at first. The controls for movement seemed to worked fine, but when I tried dropping bombs I’d find that it was a bit slow to do so, or wouldn’t do it at all for some unexplained reason. The game basically involves running around trying to get power-ups whilst avoiding bombs and laying your own to get your opponent. There was little of any kind of puzzle element and after a period of time the level space would start shrinking until some one gets killed or caught in the new wall sections appearing. There are many different levels/arenas for you to play in each with it’s own rules for game play. Some are quite large whilst others are relatively small. They change your strategy in where you try to place your bombs, and how you go about avoiding bombs placed by other players.

I think the software itself and the graphics are crafted quite well, but the game does get old fairly quickly. I think that it would definitely benefit from having a single player campaign with puzzle elements much like the original Bomberman games. I found myself getting bored fairly quickly, and I didn’t really enjoy the experience. This may be different for you if you liked the multi-player elements of the Bomberman games, or if you were a fan of them. Otherwise I’d suggest you’d probably be better off finding another way to entertain yourself.

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