Super Bomberman R is the latest entry into the 30-year-old franchise and offers a number of ways to play on Nintendo’s new console, the Switch. But does the game warrant its £49.99 price tag? And does it bring anything new to the table worth raving about? Read on to find out.
Super Bomberman R offers three distinct modes of play. The main story campaign which offers two-player co-op, a local multiplayer mode for up to 8 players including bots as well as an online mode up to 8 players.
The main campaign features the Bomberman Rangers going up against a number of villains who are set on world domination, such as the Buggler, Magnet Bomber and Karaoke Bomber. The main campaign is divided up into 50 stages through various different themed worlds, each of which consists of a boss at the end. The gameplay for each level is near identical and is pretty much what you would expect from a Bomberman title. Retaining its signature top-down perspective you place bombs to defeat your enemies. Grab power-ups. Step on the portal. Nothing groundbreaking.
To shake things up, some stages may have different objectives, from defeating all of the enemies on screen to activating a number of buttons before the portal will open ending the level. Magnets attract bombs and some surfaces can be destroyed. Regardless of this attempt to break the endless monotony of bombing through bricks; I found it did little to alleviate the game’s repetitive nature.
This is where I felt Super Bomberman R really fell down. It’s a new entry into the series on a brand new console, but there is nothing really earth shatteringly great about it. It feels and plays like any other game in the series, which is a little disappointing. Although the game boasts an impressive 50 stages, they’re mostly re-hashes of the ones before and offer little in diversity or originality other than a new skin applied to each world.
At the end of each world, players face off against one of the game’s bosses. These battles are varied and break from the normal convention of placing bombs in strategic locations to block in your enemies. A boss battle will normally begin in the usual Bomberman format and then progress to a more open arena where there are little to no obstacles. Players must place bombs to take out the weak points of the mechanised device the villain is piloting in order to defeat it.
My main frustration with the single player mode is the life system. I understand it’s been put there to add an aspect of challenge, though once losing all allocated lives you’ll need to start the world again. Most annoying once you’ve reached the last stage. Players are, of course, offered the choice of continuing where they left off but it will cost a number of in-game gems which would usually be reserved for unlocking more maps, hats and abilities.
There is a co-op mode for the main campaign, as Bomberman is, and always has been, a multiplayer affair, but I could not for the life of me get it working with only two Joy-Cons. Considering the game allows you to use up to 8 horizontal Joy-Cons this did perplex me somewhat. Though, I am not convinced the addition of another player would have increased the enjoyability of the storyline missions.
The multiplayer battle mode, in essence, is the same as the story mode, but with shorter rounds. The aim is for each player to take out one another using their bombs. Powerups can be collected to give players extra bombs, more speed as well as a bigger blast radius. Death doesn’t mean an instant loss as the revenge mode allows fallen players to throw bombs from the sidelines in hopes of switching places with a live player.
It’s this mode where Super Bomberman R really shines. With the implementation of 8 players on a single console, the game really becomes the type of game you want to pull out at parties. A number of different controller setups can be used for each different player from two Joy-Cons in the grip, to a single horizontal Joy-Con to the Switch Pro Controller. It makes the game incredibly accessible regardless of how players want to play.
A reasonable number of stages are available, to begin with, with a few more that can be unlocked from the in-game shop using gems gained from playing the game. Players can also customise their Bomberman Ranger with various hats as well as special moves, giving them an edge in the multiplayer madness.
The visuals on the Switch have been the source of many debates over the last few months. Granted, the machine is not as powerful as the Xbox One or the PlayStation 4, but frankly, I’m not entirely sure that this matters. Super Bomberman R takes full advantage of the capabilities of the machine and using a mixture of flash-era style visuals as well as HD textures it looks great. The game runs nice and smooth, even with 8 players on the screen. It’s vibrant and loud; exactly what you expect from the Bomberman series, and Super Bomberman R does not disappoint.
Although it is possible to play on the go, I found that most of the time I would have my console docked in TV mode. While the game is crisp and clear on the Switch’s 720p screen, often I found that some of the character models could be a bit small; especially during larger stages. Though, with this being said it has not put me off from playing in handheld mode.
In conclusion, while Super Bomberman R offers a fantastic multiplayer experience, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It’s a tried and tested formula that works great as part of a multiplayer setting but the singleplayer is sorely lacking. It’s a play on our nostalgia and I certainly wouldn’t suggest buying it at its full £49.99 price tag as there just isn’t enough to justify the price. While the boss battles are fun, they’re few and far between and it’s a real slog to get there. I can see Konami offering a lot more in the future with the likes of DLC, but realistically, I can’t imagine players will want to pay another premium on top of the price of the base game.