Bomberman has been a video game staple for decades. The series has always been one of those that gamers love, even when it goes way off the tracks like with Bomberman: Act Zero. It righted the ship though, and we returned to the colorful, simple gameplay that we all first fell in love with. Now the series is helping to launch the Nintendo Switch with Super Bomberman R, giving it a simple, multiplayer experience that works perfectly for the system’s specific niche. If you’re wanting something more than that though, you might wanna skip this one.
There’s a story and campaign contained in Super Bomberman R, but the less specifics we go into for that the better. It’s not that the story is bad, it’s just uninteresting, cliche, and not too pertinent to the conversation of whether or not this is a good game. One decent aspect of the campaign are the animated cutscenes that play in between the main levels.
Taking advantage of the Switch’s beautiful 720p screen, the cutscenes come alive while playing in handheld mode. They also look great on a TV, with bright colors and interesting artwork. They’re a bit simple in terms of the story that they tell, and the actions being shown, but the art is great to look at, even for the short time it’s shown.
This is especially appreciated because Super Bomberman R isn’t pushing any boundaries in the visual or audio department. The music can become truly grating, though not every song hits this level. The graphics are kind of dull and drab, and definitely low quality overall. We’ve seen what the Switch can do graphically, so these sorts of games can’t be passed off as being held back by the hardware. And the camera can be a problem, as it never moves, yet the 2.5D nature of the game results in objects getting in the way, and sometimes causing confusion from objects not looking fully distinct against the background.
Super Bomberman R isn’t pushing any boundaries in the visual or audio department
As far as the campaign’s gameplay goes, it’s pretty much just Bomberman, but with AI enemies that you have to kill, or avoid. Maps start small and simple, expanding into larger and more complex arenas as you prorgress through the many levels available. You’re still walking around, placing bombs to blow up blocks or enemies, but the added variety of the levels helps keep things fresh for a while.
Upper levels, switches, moving blocks, the levels get kind of complex with what all you have to contend with and use, but never anything too shocking. There are also different objectives that you can be tasked with, such as killing all of the enemies, hitting a number of switches, or escorting characters to an end goal. These all end up playing about the same though, with players just killing enemies as much as possible and working their way through the maze-like levels.
What does get pretty annoying no matter the campaign objective is the fact that touching enemies kills you immediately. There of course has to be a way for enemies to harm you, but traditional Bomberman gameplay usually has you running through your foes, trying to get bombs on either side. With these enemies you can only place a bomb in one direction, unless you can quickly make it to the other side of them. And if just one pixel of their model touches a pixel of yours, you die and either respawn or decide if continuing is worth the coins.
At the end of a world’s set of levels there’s a boss battle. Utilizing special powers, these can be pretty varied. You start off with a traditional fight against an AI opponent, trying to sneak bombs around them for that one-hit kill. Once you succeed it switches to a totally different and open arena. This works fine, but it feels very awkward, as you place bombs that explode in four specific directions, but you and your enemy can move in full 2D space.
These fights also last a long time, even though they aren’t that challenging once you understand the pattern. After the first minute or two, it begins to feel like you’re just going through the motions to get to the end.
But the campaign isn’t the real reason you’re buying Super Bomberman R, is it? No, you’re buying it for that classic multiplayer. Here the game delivers exactly what you expect, though it doesn’t go to great lengths to give you much more.
Four to eight players can compete in local, wireless, or online multiplayer battles. Arenas range from simple and classic to intricate and varied. Players are given a number of options to choose from, such as whether defeated players can toss bombs at active players, or whether or not special abilities can be used. This lets you finetune your multiplayer experience to best get what you want out of Super Bomberman R.
Local multiplayer has worked great, with players playing on the same screen allowing for a large play space whether on a TV or the Switch’s built-in screen. We haven’t been able to test online yet, so expect an update when that goes live on March 3rd. UPDATE: After testing online multiplayer we have given the game an official score.
Getting back into Bomberman is a lot of fun, with the formula still working to create those tense and hectic moments that you remember from past games. However, if you want any sort of variety, Super Bomberman R will not give it to you. You can play against each other, and through the campaign via co-op if you want, but that’s about it. The game offers some unlockables, but they won’t entice too many players to really dig in and earn the credits necessary to attain them.
For the price, Super Bomberman R is a tough sell. It does deliver on the promise of a return to the classic multiplayer that we all love. And the Switch is starving for content, as all newly launched systems do. If you really love Bomberman’s signature multiplayer, or if you really have to have a new Switch game, then Super Bomberman R will serve its purpose. If you want a full, content-rich experience then you’ll want to wait for something else.