It has been 10 years since the last time somebody could walk into a store and walk out with a Bomberman game. Two generations of consoles have passed us by; Konami and Hudson Soft have merged. When it was first announced, Super Bomberman R was one of the launch titles that initially caught my eye, in part due to this vast length of time since its last mainline release. The Nintendo Switch seemed to be a perfect fit for the quick action play-as-you-go games such as Bomberman. The games industry is not the same today as it was in 2007, is there still a place for the iconic Bomberman?
The crux of Bomberman, for those still unfamiliar with the franchise in its fourth decade, is that you play as a Bomber…man who runs around a maze and plants bombs to destroy enemies. Sounds simple, no? Now mix in fast-moving enemies, human or AI, that are trying to do the same to you and this simple pop, drop, and bomb-it gameplay gets more convoluted. Each character also has special abilities and power-ups available that even further complicate the situation.
Super Bomberman R boasts a brand new story, telling the tale of Bugglar once again attempting to conquer the universe and it is up to Bomberman and his 7 Bomberman brothers(2 of whom are female – yes, they are still called brothers) to defeat his dastardly minions and bring peace to the universe. Did I mention that each in-game world is an actual world? Yup, you are actually bringing peace to the universe.
One of the biggest issues with the game, as well as its strengths, came from the boss battles in Story Mode. Boss battles are fought in two parts – the first part is similar to a traditional Battle Mode but with only one, highly-skilled opponent. The second part is a large scale monster which you need to find its weak point to attack.
The initial battles were difficult to complete without continuous suicide. It did not matter how many moves you planned out, the AI would plan out 2 steps further – this was seen on all 3 difficulties. While imaginative, as far as Bomberman gameplay can be, the second part of the battle can drag on for too long. This reviewer had shorter boss battles in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild than certain encounters in Super Bomberman R.
The story is lighthearted, fun, and just as mildly over-the-top as expected from a game of this style. The voice acting, however, is insufferable. Whether they went with the first-takes for each character or the actors were miscast, the VA was subpar. Luckily, this does not apply to the sound design as a whole. The menu music is quite possibly the ear worm of the year and readies you for the joy you are about to experience. The background music fits each level, and planting, punting, and detonating bombs all sound satisfying.
Bomberman has never been about its single player. Gathering a group of friends and gunning after each other with bombs is what the franchise is all about. This game is no exception. Offering multiplayer modes in spades – local, locally networked, or online – Super Bomberman R shines with more people gathered.
Local multiplayer is available both using up to 8 individual Joy-Con sides for 8 players or using any combination of Joy-Con and Pro-Con or even networking multiple Switch systems together for a more traditional handheld style of multiplayer. Like most Bomberman games, Super Bomberman R allows you to customize nearly every aspect of the match – special abilities, power-ups, etc. There are characters and additional maps that can be unlocked using the in-game currency obtained during Story Mode, no micro transactions to be found here. Thankfully bots are present! If you only have 3 friends over and want to play an 8-player match, or you just want to practice your skills outside of Story Mode, you can throw some bots into the fray.
Online Battle offers two modes, one ranked and the other unranked. Players can either quick find a match or create a lobby. Unlike offline where you can choose any number of participants between 2 and 8 Bombers, online only allows a choice between 4 or 8 Bombers. All of the same options, such as power-ups and maps, are available both online and offline allowing the match to play exactly how you desire. The biggest issue with online is that there is with input lag, which Konami has publicly addressed.
The ability to take this game on the go and play in bite-sized chunks is by far the most delightful aspect of the game. Super Bomberman R is fun, and will continue to be a key game to show off the multiplayer capabilities of the Nintendo Switch. In a game that focuses on its multiplayer, it is a major disadvantage to be plagued by online issues at launch, though Konami promises to address and fix these issues. On the whole, the game does not become more than the sum of its parts. Countless hours will be spent in multiplayer battle, but this game does not stack up to the highs of the franchise such as Bomberman 64.
Our video review will be available on Saturday.