After a long lull, the white bomber is back! The last time we saw him, Bomberman was gracing consoles with fun entries in the series that focused on delivering thrilling multiplayer experiences. Now, he’s back on the Nintendo Switch with a brand new, entry that tests the Switch’s capabilities as a portable multiplayer gaming device. However, it also touts a full single player campaign that calls back to the says of the old Super Bomberman series on the SNES. So, is this a blast, or is it a dud?
I want to like Super Bomberman R, I really do. Even with all of the horrible things Konami has done on record as of late–the drama surrounding their treatment of Hideo Kojima and the Metal Gear Solid franchise comes to mind immediately–I do believe the developers of Super Bomberman R are not responsible for the deeds of their publisher. Even with that in mind, this is just plain old not a good game.
Let’s start with the game’s single-player mode, a feature that has been missing from Bomberman games for a long time. The game takes place over the course of five distinct worlds, each with their own flavor and gimmicks. On the positive side, the game’s presentation, while not technically impressive, is enjoyably colorful. Each of the world bosses especially stand out as huge, chaotic battles that look enjoyably crisp on either the TV or on the Switch’s smaller screen.
There is a story here, but a light one, comparable to that of a goofy Saturday morning cartoon. The bombers are no longer simple recolors of each other, but each coloration has his/her own personality. For example, the white bomber is heroic, the black bomber is cocky and the yellow bomber is goofy. They are traversing each of the five worlds in order to defeat the five dastardly bombers, each of which have their own goofy personalities as well.
Level objectives can vary, but not by much. The most common is to simply defeat every enemy in the level. There’s also collecting the keys to complete a level, surviving for a specified amount of time, or escorting captive bombers to the level exit. None of them are particularly engaging, especially since enemies aren’t very varied or complex. The end result is repetitive and boring at best, and infuriating at worst. The escort levels in particular are some of the worst, most un-fun pieces of gaming I’ve had the displeasure of experiencing in a long time.
Most of this is due to the way that losing is handled in this game. See, your bomber is weak–you die as soon as you touch an enemy. From the moment you start a world, you have a small number of lives to work with, and if you lose them all (Which you will if you’re on anything higher than the easiest difficulty), you have to pay for more lives using the in-game coins, which you can only earn by clearing a world (I hope you can see the issue with this), or by playing the game’s online multiplayer mode. If you’re out of coins, too bad–you cannot continue and will be forced to quit and start over from the beginning of the world.
The end result is that you will run out of coins quickly, and you will be forced to grind for them by playing online, or by playing in lower difficulties. The whole mechanic is terrible, and is the nail in the coffin for the well-intentioned, but ultimately awful single player mode.
Haven’t We Done This Before?
The game’s multiplayer mode is the main meat of this game, or at least it can be. If you’ve ever played Bomberman, you will be pleased to hear that the chaotic, fast-paced mode is back and in full force. There is a simple selection of stages that can be expanded by using the aforementioned coin system. Additionally, all of Bomberman‘s typical power-ups return.
The online multiplayer is split into a free-play mode and a ranked mode, both of which are good fun if you can manage to get a good connection. That’s a hard if as well, since in my experience, the game is a latency-filled mess half of the time. Additionally, the multiplayer features are pretty barebones, even for Bomberman.
Let me turn back the clock an odd decade or so. We were graced with three fantastic entries: Bomberman Live on the X-Box 360, Bomberman Blast on the Wii and the Bomberman Ultra on the PS3, all three of which gave us the definitive iteration of the series’ famous gameplay. Not only did they all feature the ability to tweak the game’s mechanics to your liking, but also hit the nail on the head in terms of value, costing you a mere $10. Super Bomberman R is $50. Are you catching my drift? Super Bomberman R has a value problem.
In terms of multiplayer features, Super Bomberman R is genuinely lacking when compared to these past iterations. Knowing all of this, it’s really, really hard to come out of this game feeling like you’ve made a good investment.
Defuse Your Excitement
All in all, there is really no reason to buy Super Bomberman R. Even if you really need your Bomberman kick, there are other, much smarter options, such as Bomberman Blitz on the 3DS eShop, which runs you a whopping $5. Or, if you’re craving a single-player Bomberman experience, you’re much better off replaying the recently re-released Bomberman 64 on the Wii U.
Unless they manage to greatly expand and improve on the game through downloadable content, this is an insultingly overpriced package with a terrible single-player mode and a multiplayer mode that has been done much better by other Bomberman games. This burns, especially when it’s so close in price to a game like Breath of the Wild, which is literally packed to the brim with hundreds of hours of content. Even if you’re craving more Nintendo Switch games, I would recommend looking pretty much anywhere else if you’re looking to have fun.
- Colorful presentation and goofy voice acting. The visuals are nice and crisp. Some of the story is worthy of chuckles.
- I like the quick and easy drop-in co-op featured in the single player mode.
- When it works, the online ranked multiplayer can be fun, but only if all players’ connections are good.
- Local multiplayer is just as good as you remember it, and benefits greatly from the Switch’s portability.
- There is not a lot of variety in the single player mode, with only a handful of repeating level types and enemies.
- Using coins as the main method of continuing when you run out of lives is terrible and will force you to start over or hard reset the system often.
- Some of the level types, particularly the escort missions, are horribly frustrating.
- The single player is short, and can be beaten in only a few hours on the easiest difficulty.
- Multiplayer lacks features when compared to past entries, such as the missing ability to toggle specific power-ups.
- The multiplayer mode can often be plagued by input lag and latency, sapping it of all possible fun.
- For $50, the game is overpriced, and there are numerous other alternatives that are NOT nearly the price of a full AAA game:
- Bomberman Blitz (3DS eShop – $5)
- Bomberman Legacy (Vita – $12)
- Bomberman Live (X-Box One – $10)
- Bomberman Blast (Wii/Wii U – $10)
- Numerous other superior entries and past titles that you can buy instead.