It has been a long while since my previous article on Bomberman beta mysteries, but I’ve finally gotten around to putting together the second article I’d lined out. This time, I’m focusing on odd details in various released games that will likely never have any official explanations. Some of these have become more common knowledge over the years, but I have some information and general thoughts that I’d like to present on them.

Without further ado, let’s begin…

4. Heart Eyes in Super Bomberman 3

This might be the most bizarre entry on this list. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anybody else mention it since I stumbled upon it myself while peeking into the WRAM of Super Bomberman 3 back in 2009. Essentially, these are unused frames of animation that depict the little “dance” that Bombermen do when they are trapped or stunned by a bomb throw, but Bomberman has heart-shaped eyes instead of his normal, frustrated expression. Here’s what the animation would look like in-game:

Strangely, a third frame depicting Bomberman with his hands up in the air, the same as when he is holding a bomb, has no apparent place in this animation. What’s truly interesting about this, though, is that if you load any other selectable character into the game, they don’t have these heart-eyes animation frames. See below, for a comparison of Bomberman and Bomber Kid:

Note the complete lack of the unused frames in the lower-right corner of Kid’s set.

This indicates to me that the animation was only ever intended to be used in the Normal Game, as only normal White or Black Bomberman are playable there. Where the animation would have been used, however, is a total mystery. My best guess is that Pretty Bomber’s mech, Gamebuku, would have issued some form of charm attack that would stun the player and trigger that specific animation. If we really want to stretch the theory, it’s possible that her mech was something else entirely at an earlier stage in development.

3. The Ominous Door in Bomberman 64

By the end of this December, I will have been ruminating over this creepy thing for a decade, ever since an old friend brought it up. Now, it’s not uncommon for game developers to leave assets in a game when they decide not to use them, and even to simply alter terrain to make cut areas impossible to reach. With that being said, this is just freaky.

As seen in the video, there is a hidden pathway off the edge of a platform in map 2 of “On the Right Track”, the third stage of Red Mountain in Bomberman 64. Apparently, when it was given the axe, a developer simply clipped away the portion of floor that connected the pathway to the main platform and made the rest of it invisible. The problem with this is that a core mechanic in the game is the use of kicking and throwing bombs into positions in order to drop down, bounce across them, and reach new areas. So, not only can players simply drop bombs onto the platform to accidentally discover it, they can also utilize the bomb jumping mechanic to bounce onto the platform. From there, it’s just a matter of repeatedly kicking bombs to figure out where the path leads.

But wait, it gets weirder. Back when this was originally brought to my attention, I decided to rip the VRML from the map and get a better angle of this thing, because it is a unique door model that does not appear anywhere else in the game. For starters, here is a comparison of the height of the door to Bomberman’s height:

Bomberman looks odd here because his model is made of flat textures that always face the camera. Also wow, that door is tall.

The sheer height of this thing is daunting. It’s like almost five Bombermen high. Conversely, though, it’s really skinny. I assume all of this was probably designed for the camera angle, so the door would be more obvious, but it still makes this thing look like it was important somehow. It’s even more ominous when you stare it down from Bomberman’s angle…

Into the maw of the beast.

Something else to note is that the door may have originally had a different texture for its frame, and it was later swapped to the rocky texture to make it blend in with the rest of the mountain and obfuscate it when it was cut from the game. If this was the case, it might have looked more normal when it was in use. But whatever the case may be, the questions of where it lead, what it looked like, and why it was cut remain as some of Bomberman‘s most enduring mysteries. Did it lead to a secret? To an exit? Did it have something to do with that metal pillar Sirius is standing next to? We may never know. The least we can hope for is that, perhaps someday, someone like that person who discovered test and cinematic maps in the game will stumble upon the unused map the door lead to, if such a map still exists. One can hope…

2. Super Bomberman‘s Removed Intro

This one has always been mighty peculiar. Super Bomberman, the original Bomberman title for the Super Famicom, saw a lot of changes when it was brought over to the Super Nintendo in the west. Most of these were favourable or generally understandable. The palettes for the Mecha Bombers faced in stage 5 were originally off-colour, perhaps to indicate that they were “fakes”, but were changed to the colour palettes of the corresponding “normal” Bombermen. Likewise, the colours on the big victory screen Bombermen, which were originally all kinds of crazy strange and even had yellow skin, were “corrected”, and the mole-like Moguchan enemy that first appears in stage 3 was drastically altered to avoid claims of racism in the west.

However, one change just doesn’t make a bit of sense to me, and that is the removal of the introduction cinematic from the game. In the Japanese release, if the player waits on the title screen, a very simplistic movie reel effect plays out and still images illustrating the game’s story slowly roll up. There is no text to translate, nothing. It could have easily been kept in place. However, for reasons only the localization team, cobbled together some twenty years ago, can know, it was disabled.

And that’s the key word here – it was disabled. It’s not like they encountered some strange issue that required them to cut the intro to gain space back in the ROM. The intro still exists in all international releases of Super Bomberman, and can even be triggered using the Pro Action Replay code 7E00A433. So… for what possible reason did the localization team find to disable it? We may never know.

1. Playable Subordinate Bomber in Super Bomberman 5

In the Battle Game character selection screen of Super Bomberman 5, the player is presented with 9 options and… a red X. Never before had an unlockable character appeared in the history of the Bomberman franchise. This was uncharted territory! So who could it be? Subordinate Bomber, who is conspicuously missing from the lineup? Or Terrorin, the game’s strange new antagonist?

An unlockable character in Bomberman? The possibilities seemed endless…

Nope. In the biggest troll of the series at that point, completing the Normal Game at 100% would unlock… Gold Bomber. Literally, it is a palette swap of the normal Bomberman, replacing his head and body colours with yellow (it doesn’t even look like gold).

…And the truth was endlessly disappointing.

But that wasn’t always the case!

By loading a special password into the Configure Battle Mode, or by utilizing the less restrictive/dangerous Pro Action Replay codes I conjured up some years ago, you can actually access Subordinate Bomber as a playable character, and he is… surprisingly complete. Placing him into play will cause some wild graphical glitches in the Battle Game, but his sprite sheet is complete, including an idle animation, victory animation, Rui-riding sprites, and even a revenge ship, none of which are seen during normal gameplay due to his exclusion in the final release. The only things apparently missing are his scoreboard and character selection mugshots, and the voice clip announcing him as the victor.

If you use him in the Normal Game, he doesn’t even cause any graphical glitches.

Additionally, and of extra importance to note, unlike its predecessors, the playable characters in Super Bomberman 5 do not share the same white, black, red, blue, and green colour palettes for character selection. Each one actually has his own unique colour palette, which affords them more diverse appearances while still matching up to their respective player colours. Observe, examples of three different characters’ player one (white) palettes, presented as rows of colour swatches:

From top to bottom: White Bomberman, white Subordinate Bomber, and white Gary Bomber.

(In fact, if you use those PAR codes I linked a moment ago, you’ll have to set two codes for every character – one for the character selection, and one for the palette selection; otherwise, the character will use the wrong character’s palette (i.e. whomever was selected during normal gameplay, or by default) and it will look all kinds of wrong.)

So what gives? Why was a perfectly suitable character removed from the game? I’ve had years to mull this one over, but the only theory that makes sense to me is this:

Subordinate Bomber was originally included as a playable character, because he is a distinct Bomberman, like the others. However, due to the map-branching nature of the Normal Game, because it is not necessary to clear every area in order to achieve the good ending of the game, the developers wanted to throw in a special reward for players who went the extra mile and cleared the game 100%. To do so, they decided to lock one character and open it up when this achievement was met.

Now, it would be strange to lock one of the 8 Fiendish Bombers, because it would imply that one is somehow more important than the rest, and the identity of the locked character would be obvious to players. However, as their name implies, there are only eight Fiendish Bombers. Subordinate is not a Fiendish Bomber; he is merely Pirate Bomber’s lackey (seriously, even Baron Bombano’s dog outclasses him). But locking Subordinate Bomber and granting him as a special reward may have felt odd, considering that he is not even a real member of the villains, and so he may be regarded as an inferior character to the rest. So, removing Subordinate Bomber from the equation entirely would allow the developers to free up an extra character slot and put someone else in who could serve as a real reward.

Terrorin, unfortunately, would have never been more than a mere brainstorming suggestion. As is evident in the way he is programmed into the game, he was never intended to be playable. He lacks any animations other than the ones used in his boss battle (I have checked to the best of my ability). He is less animated than the Bombermen in the game, and generally feels more like a unique opponent. His bizarre death animation pretty much seals the deal, as he would have needed an animation more in line with the other characters to maintain stylistic consistency.


Does it bother anyone else that his sprites look almost nothing like his artwork?

The only other characters in the game are Honey and Kotetsu, and they are literally just enemy characters – ordinary monsters, not even programmed as Bombermen. Plus, there are two of them – which one would make the cut, and why? So either Hudson Soft needed to introduce an entirely different character, or…

Welp. We know what they decided. And to be honest, I feel the end result is far more disappointing than an unlockable Subordinate Bomber would have been. But them’s the brakes. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

That’s all for this article. Thanks for reading! If you’re interested in more Bomberman-related stuff, you can check out my other articles on the subject in general. I talk about a lot of things, from cultural influences to bosses to old, obscure toys.

h/t: Duke Serkol for bringing up the Bomberman 64 door all those years ago, Dragon Bomber for scanning the Super Bomberman 5 manual and Ragey for ripping the Super Bomberman cutscene still, both of which were used in the header image for this article (and for the Terrorin image).

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