Review: Super Bomberman R
Classic Bomberman with a hefty price tag
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Konami, Hexadrive
Bomberman was never really my thing. I played the NES games back in the day during my after-school days with friends, but only as a close second to Contra. It was a novel idea to blast your friends and enemies with a well-placed bomb, but as the series continued, I was never really drawn to it, save for the amazing Bomberman 64. Alas, Super Bomberman R is no Bomberman 64. It's an homage to the classic games with some new rulesets in place.
There's a story mode here, and to me, it's the most entertaining part of the package. You travel across planets, all with wildly different themed worlds, and each level has a certain objective. Sometimes you're tasked with eliminating all enemies, other times you're tasked with surviving until the timer runs out, or finding keys, or leading your friends back to safety. The mixing up of objectives keeps the relatively simple gameplay fresh.
The brief intermissions between each planet and also before each boss fight are complemented by animated cartoons which I actually very much enjoyed, and wouldn't mind if they somehow spawned their own show given their quirkiness.
Let's dive into what makes Bomberman, well, Bomberman. The game is all about frantically trying to stay alive on relatively claustrophobic stages, while bombing blocks to make new pathways, and also enemies that are out to get you. The game starts out rather tame with enemies that are slow and easy to bomb, but as you progress, you'll find ones that are much trickier to kill. Some will outright eat your bombs if they don't explode first, others are able to hop across the level obstacles, making them tricky to hit. Some will even charge toward you when you're in their line of sight. The enemy variety, just like the objective variety, ensures that despite doing the same thing each level, the monotony is broken up a bit.
After a few levels on each planet, you're left to fight that planet's boss, which is split up into two parts. The first involves a straight up battle against them on a similar grid-like level that the stages are played out on. The second part removes the grid and gives you full 360-degree movement against a giant robot version of that enemy. These battles are cool but I often found myself dying because of stupid mistakes that could have been easily avoided had the camera been a bit more zoomed in.
The heart of Bomberman though lives and dies with its multiplayer mode, and thankfully, the game delivers on that front. Keep in mind that this review is based on playing strictly locally, and with two players max, since I only have the one set of Joy-con available to me. With that said, it's much more enjoyable when you have a friend (or friends) to play with.
The game's story mode can be played entirely in co-op, which is fantastic. But when you just want to blast your friends in the face, there is a Battle mode with entirely customizable rulesets. Even if you might not have seven other friends to partake in an eight-player all out rumble, you can activate bots to fill in the empty spaces.
Super Bomberman R is a relatively bare-bones game. Even given the game's story mode, which is fun, it's relatively short. The most enjoyment you'll have is in the game's multiplayer mode. So with that said, is the game worth $49.99? With games like Fast RMX and Snipperclips releasing for $19.99, and even I am Setsuna is launching for $39.99. Super Bomberman R is asking you for nearly the price of a fully priced retail game. Unless you have a whole lot of friends (and controllers) to give have this game constantly in rotation, it might not be for you.
Cost aside tho, there's no denying that Super Bomberman R, under the right conditions, is a very fun game, despite its limited scope. It's a quick pick-up-and-play game that doesn't ask for a whole lot of your time in exchange for a lot of enjoyment. Given how the game looks, I am surprised that Konami and Hexadrive weren't able to push for a smooth 60fps, because the game would have definitely benefited from it, given its hectic nature.
If you've got the friends (and controllers) and you got an extra $50 burning a hole in your pocket, you might have an incredibly fun party game on your hands. I still personally feel that $50 is a bit high, so if you're the patient type, then waiting for a price-drop might be well worth it.