- Released: 2017
- Played on: Nintendo Switch
- Also available on: –
- Time to get into: 10 minutes
- Time to complete: 5 hours
- Multiplayer: Yes, local and online
As a seasoned player of Bomberman games over the years I had mixed preconceptions about this latest installment. One the one hand the more recent versions I’d picked up had been somewhere between poor and completely horrible. On the other hand my good memories of the really great ones from the early days were whispering in my ear to dive in to this one. Whilst this isn’t the incredible Bomberman title I would have liked, I am really glad I gave in to those whispers – Super Bomberman R was a good experience I’d recommend to those with a Nintendo Switch.
The basic game remains as it has been for years: you move around with the stick and drop bombs by pressing A – it’s almost as simple as it can get – and there are, as usual, two modes of play; Battle and Story (more on these later). What makes this a good edition in the Bomberman series is the intangible idea of feel: moving your Bomber about in this one feels solid and responsive. Almost as soon as you start playing you’ll realise how important this is – although simple, the gameplay is fast and furious and without a firm grip on your character you will get exploded quickly and regularly.
This is the game’s strength and it clearly knows it – it’s the first option on the main menu! You begin on a screen with 3 other Bombers (either bots or of course you can go multiplayer, locally or online) and the last Bomber standing is the winner. It’s quick, relentless and addictive. My previous skills had clearly left me over the years as I found it really really difficult to begin with. The speed of thought required to simultaneously stay alive whilst also trying to destroy the other Bombers takes a while to get used to and I lost on a very regular basis until I got up to speed.
It never got boring though, the way things work out never feels unfair even against the AI and it’s a real case of just-one-more when it comes to battle mode. There are a number of different stages, each asking for a slightly different plan of attack and defence and the three minute (if they go to the wire) battles are usually wild once the bombs start bouncing around. You can develop your own plans and adapt this for each arena. My usual M.O. was to attack the nearest Bomber as hard and as quickly as I could to try to eliminate one before the map got opened up fully. After that I’d keep myself to myself until I collected the power up that allowed me to kick bombs across the rows and columns towards the competition. Then I got on the offensive! Each person will be able to play their own way in this mode, from full-on-attack to full-on-survive and anywhere in between. If you like fast paced and crazy multiplayer games, you’ll enjoy this.
Whilst the things you actually do in story mode remain the same – run around and drop bombs – the addition of a story and many different types of stages and enemies does make the experience less intense and less exciting. The story and the cut scenes are either completely awful or aimed at a very young market, depending on how generous you want to be towards the developer! They aren’t funny or interesting and take it from me: you won’t miss a single thing if you skip every one. The enemies that fill each level are far more annoying than they are challenging. To begin with they just essentially wait patiently for you to pick them off but later when they actually start attacking you their complete lack of care for their own well being makes them both dangerous and just a chore to kill off.
The boss battles are easily the high point, requiring the same mix of offence and defence that works well in battle mode and each a slightly different set of tactics to defeat. Ultimately though the challenge falls short as each world, there are six in total, only gives you a certain amount of lives and no ability to gather any more. This should make it very tricky but you quickly realise once the difficulty level starts to go up that after paying for one new set of lives with in-game currency you can then have unlimited lives for free as long as you keep playing! As a result it eventually turns into a grind where the possibility of dying is more an inconvenience than a disaster.
I did also try to play story mode with The Boy but he was going through, having never played this type of game before, the same learning process I’d had to go through again in battle mode. As a result his very regular deaths meant that he quickly lost interest. I wonder if future Bomberman games could benefit from some kind of introductory mode where it’s much harder to die initially. Time will tell on that. I would certainly love to spend many hours playing the next Bomberman game with him!
At the end of the day Super Bomberman R falls short of being a really great title and an essential purchase for Switch owners due to the lackluster story mode. If the battle mode was available alone for half the price that would be another thing but right now the whole package doesn’t quite cut it at the top level. That said, if you are also facing the nostalgic call from your past to pick this up, or just like the look of it, you won’t be disappointed. A decent start for hopefully more Bomberman on Nintendo Switch in future years.