Bomberman: Act Zero is a 2006 video game for the Xbox 360. This game was notable for being a radical departure for the series in terms of character design. Instead of the familiar depiction of White Bomber, the characters in this game resemble mechanical cyborgs based on the original game's boxart. The player can choose between a male or female Bomberman, as well as his or her armor color.
This game is a supposed prequel to the series. Bombermen are being built and must prove to be good enough by destroying each other. Whoever comes out alive wins. The player is a character made up and customized to their liking. This said Bomberman (or Bomber for females) is awakened from a deactivation, and is thrown into battle, planning to fight its way to the surface of the earth to escape the battle.
Act Zero is the traditional 2D styled gameplay that the Bomberman series is known for. One of the few changes in the game is FPB mode (first person battle). Despite the title, the game mode plays in a 3rd person perspective, where the player is given control of the camera which follows the character being played. The player still has the option of playing on standard mode, which sets the camera to an overhead view like other various 2D bomberman titles.
The game also features a life meter in the FPB mode which depletes if the player is hit by a blast. The player can take multiple hits from the same explosion if the blast lingers for a while. Players can collect various power ups which allows them to lay more bombs, have stronger and longer blasts, and can give the player higher speeds. The standard mode still operates on a one-hit death rule, with each hit depleting a single Heart item or killing the player.
The single player campaign contains both FPB and standard modes with a total of 99 levels. The player has no option to save in between levels unless they are connected online, and if the player dies, they must restart at the beginning, making it the most challenging single player experience for a Bomberman game. The game features an online battle mode called world battle which supports up to 8 players at once on Xbox live. There is no system link available or local multiplayer option to play on the same system.
The game was generally poorly received and has a aggregate score of 34/100 on Metacritic. IGN gave the game a 3/10, criticizing the "bad online" and said that "this totally new design stinks, plain and simple."  X-Play, closing their own review, stated that "Act Zero accomplishes what even Al Qaeda was unable to do: turn "Bomberman" into a dirty word." It currently holds a ranking of 33.36% on GameRankings. In the March '07 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, SeanBaby listed Bomberman: Act Zero as one of the Top 10 Worst Games of 2006, describing it as "the Bomberman game that sucks."
The most prominent criticism of the game was the graphical overhaul and the dissonance of the brown and muddy cyberpunk aesthetic to the franchise's familiar colorful cartoonish universe. GameDaily complained that the cyberpunk look left the game "feeling lifeless and unhappy". GameSpy deemed it "the worst videogame retooling since King of Fighters went 3D or Lara Croft went to Paris.