Super Bomberman R (Switch) Review
The Bomberman formula hasn’t changed much since its inception, nor does it need to. Its multiplayer bombing mayhem was fun in the mid-eighties and the same formula still works in 2017. It’s far easier to set up thanks to the Switch and its flexible display and control options. There’s some fairly uninteresting single-player content here if you’re desperate for bombing and bereft of friends to bomb, though at a retail price of AU$89.95 (or even $65 on the eShop) it’s hard to recommend for what you get.
The Bomberman formula is simple. You walk around on a grid-style map, dropping timed bombs which can break brittle walls or destroy your opponents. Sometimes breaking walls will uncover power up icons which give you special properties like larger explosions or the ability to kick bombs across a stage. Throw yourself and up to 7 other players onto a stage and have at it until one bomber emerges victorious.
Switch might be the best platform yet for Bomberman. The ease of setting up multiplayer matches with 8 people whether they have Joy-Cons, Pro Controllers or even their own systems is fantastic. Konami have done a great job allowing so many different ways for friends to join in. Super Bomberman R is fantastic fun with a group of friends. Fortunes can change in fractions of a second and that moment of realisation is sure to set off a cacophony of joyous screams.
Online multiplayer is present too and Super Bomberman R is one of the only games to support this at launch. League games are present which allow you to compete for Battle Points and climb the Bomberman ranks. Right now games aren’t hard to find, but as always it remains to be seen whether this will continue in the future. Free online play is where you can play a more relaxed game without worry for your online ranking, and also where you can bring your friends along.
Setting up an online match with friends is simple. One person sets up a room, and everyone else can choose the Join Friends option and they will soon appear in that open room. One minor annoyance in this process is that the room always has a countdown going to the game starting, and if you have a second player in the room a game will start even if you’re waiting for other players to appear. Not a major issue, but it would be nice if there was some way for the host to delay the game starting.
Once in a match, the experience is fairly average, in my experience at least. Most matches exhibited laggy inputs and more often than not I would have to press the button to lay a bomb more than once for it to register. It’s a shame since online multiplayer with friends can be a blast if accompanied with voice chat, but the experience is marred by the ever-present lag, at least in my experience.
There is a single-player Story mode here too for lonesome bombing, but it’s not particularly engaging. Each world opens and closes with a nicely animated cut-scene leading to the five worlds of ten levels, each with a particular objective to complete before the exit will open. Most level objectives are simply ‘destroy all the enemies’, but occasionally the objective will change to something else like flipping switches on the ground or escort missions. The last two stages of each worlds are boss stages. First, against a Dastardly Bomber who seems to have a superhuman ability to avoid your bombs, and secondly against a more interesting giant robot boss.
These end-world bosses are the highlight of single player, with each requiring a bit of experimentation and eventual strategy to weaken and defeat. A great feature is the ability for a second player to jump into the story mode at any moment, tedium with a friend is at least a little more fun than tedium alone. Overall though, the single player campaign feels like an obligatory add-on more than an essential part of the game.
Really it’s the price that makes Super Bomberman R hard to recommend. The underlying game here while mostly unchanged from 1985 is still great fun with friends, and the flexibility of setting up a match with friends both in person and online is fantastic.
It’s just that for this kind of price I’ve come to expect more than a pretty version of the same Bomberman we’ve played for decades and a single player mode bereft of new ideas that feels more like a slog than a joy.