Super Bomberman R (Available exclusively on the Nintendo Switch)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Number of Players: 1 to 8
Genre: Action Puzzle
Developer: Konami & HexaDrive
Release Date: March 3, 2017
Parent Talk: Super Bomberman R has been rated E10+ for everyone ten and up. The only notes the ESRB makes is that the game features cartoon violence, and that’s exactly right. For a name like Bomberman one could expect the worst, but in reality, this is a very light-hearted game that children of all ages will absolutely love.
Plays Like: This is one of those instances where I feel confident in saying, if you’ve played one Bomberman you’ve played them all. You move around a grid trying to complete a variety of missions from blowing up all the enemies, to locating keys and switches, to surviving for a set amount of time. There are boss fights, and five great worlds for you to explore, made up of eight stages each and two boss fights per world. After that there are two final boss fights and that’s all she wrote. The thing is there are lots of multiplayer options, and that’s where fans will spend hours upon hours having an absolute blast.
Review Basis: I played through the game in a handful of hours, tried the harder difficulty settings and went online to test the stability of the network.
Bomberman is back, and what a huge surprise. Being an old-school Bomberman fan since the TurboGrafx-16 days, it was nice to see this game grace the Switch’s launch. Konami has been dead to the gaming industry for some time now, so this really came as a huge shock to me to see them back in action, and with a game I never expected to see again. While the game doesn’t break from the classic formula in any way, the fact the Switch is so diverse is ultimately what makes the game that much more compelling than previous entries. Be warned though, the entry price is a bit steep.
Bomberman at home, Bomberman on the go, Bomberman everywhere! The absolute best feature of Super Bomberman R is the fact you can play it everywhere, in any of the three available modes the Switch offers. At home, you can have up to eight players go to town, in tabletop mode up to four players can share the small screen, and in portable mode you can either play by yourself or you locally connect to eight other systems or head online where up to eight can play. One note to make is that for all the online matches I played while in console or portable mode, I couldn’t get matches larger than four unless the other players had partners at home. Whether this is required or not I’m not sure.
The online and local multiplayer are literally a blast. As with every Bomberman game, you need to experience it with other players. At first my online sessions were a bit sluggish, however that quickly improved over time. The more matches I played, the better the connections became. If you’re unlucky and are stuck with some poor connections, believe me, you’ll feel it. It makes playing extremely challenging. Konami has already released a fix to improve the connection issues, and I expect more in the coming weeks.
Multiplayer plays very much like the classic Bomberman of yesterday where you try and be the last man standing. What’s fun here is that when you’re defeated you can hang out at the border of the arena and lob bombs at the surviving players. If you manage to blow one up, you take their place and are back in the game. During the last minute of battle the players who were defeated are kicked out, and the arena starts to fill with spikes, which forces the remaining players to get closer to each other. It’s an absolute riot, and great fun.
There’s a league match, which is ranked, and then a free play which allows you to customize the match as you see fit. You can even buy stages with the game’s in-game currency, but be warned the coins you need are not easy to attain. You get some from winning online matches, and by completing the campaign, but it’ll take quite a few rounds before you can afford anything, and if you decide to want to play the campaign on the harder difficulty settings, be prepared to spend a small fortune to continue.
- Considering the way Nintendo built the Switch, everyone who buys a copy of Bomberman automatically has access to local two-player multiplayer, which is awesome. The downside is that the Joy-Con are not the best controllers to use for people with larger hands like I have. I can use them perfectly when they’re docked to the system, but once apart they’re just too tiny for me. That said, the fact that you have access to multiplayer without having to spend any additional money is fantastic.
- I mentioned the in-game currency can be used to purchase stages, but you can even unlock addition characters and headgear to really customize your avatar. There are eight Bombermen by default, but the fact you can really make one character your own is fantastic.
- The campaign is surprisingly excellent. Yes it’s a tad short, featuring five worlds made up of eight classic stages and then two boss fights per world, but it’s great fun. You select from one of the eight Bombermen whose mission is to stop the Evil Emperor Buggler from destroying the universe. The cutscenes are extremely cute and humorous, which is precisely what you’d expect from a Bomberman game. Each world has a unique theme, and each stage has different winning conditions. The majority of the stages require you to defeat all the enemies, but others will require you to find a set number of keys, activate a number of switches, survive for a certain amount of time, and more. This diversity helps keep things fresh.
The level design is also excellent, with certain blocks allowing you to jump to other levels, ice patches that prevent you from standing in one spot, and much, much more.
The boss battles are very fun, if not overly original. The first of the two boss battles is always a one-on-one race battle. These are extremely challenging as your opponent always knows precisely where to stand to avoid getting blown up, which forces you to try and pin them to defeat them or sacrifice yourself to take them down as well. The second boss battles are all the same, the boss jump into a mech and tries to take you down. These boss battles play out the same across all the different worlds, you damage the mech and then inflict damage to the boss. These are extremely fun throughout the campaign.
The graphics look great, even if they aren’t using the Switch hardware to its fullest. Everything is colorful and bright, which is shocking to see for a game released in 2017. Where’s all the brown and gray? The audio is also really catchy and fits the game perfectly.
+/- One problem I have with the new isometric camera angle is that it can make it hard to pinpoint your exact location. I can’t tell you how many times I planted a bomb in one lane and move to the next only to realize I wasn’t full in the next lane, and BOOM there goes a life. This can also make the elevated areas a bit tough to see, and don’t even get me started on some of those mech boss fights as the buggers will move in such a way that obstructs your view so you can’t tell where you are, and you usually end up dead as a result.
+/- The controls are another area that take some getting used to, much like the camera. I don’t know exactly what it is, but having 360-degree control over your character feels a bit strange at first. This is evident when you head online, but after a while you should manage to adjust.
- The price is a bit hard to justify. In Canada the game goes for $64.99, which is the same price as Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 & 1.5 Remix on the PlayStation 4. That game lasts for dozens and dozens of hours, whereas this can be beaten in a handful of hours. Yes the multiplayer is great, but that’s a lot of money and given the content featured it’s really hard to justify that price point.
Super Bomberman R is a game I would recommend to anyone, if it were just a bit cheaper. I know people have discussed this to death by now, but it deserves repeating. The asking price gives people certain expectations, and I’ll admit I was surprised by the amount of content when I played through the game. I kept telling myself, at this price I could have gotten some much meatier experiences, although you’d be hard pressed to find a better party game on the Switch as of right now.
Final Score: 7.5/10