Super Bomberman R 2 (Switch) Review
It’s hard to remember, but when the Switch launched it had just a handful of titles available physically on day one, and now there are thousands. One of those games was Super Bomberman R, and if you picked it up on day one, it wasn’t the worst game you could choose, but it was bereft of content and had a tacked-on single-player that was a bit of a grind. It was a bit much to ask full price for the package — but at launch, that’s what you get.
We didn’t get another Bomberman on the Switch until 2021. It was obviously named Super Bomberman R Online, and it took less than two years to shut down, at the end of 2022. Konami said many people played that game, but clearly not enough to sustain it. Almost everything from that game has made it into this: Super Bomberman R 2. So what has Konami added to what was a free-to-play package before to make it worth full price once again?
The two big headline acts for R2 are the game’s brand-new story mode and the Castle mode in multiplayer, which is a big mechanic throughout the story. Now, when I hear Bomberman and story mode, I get it. I hear you sigh — you’re probably not buying Bomerman to play through a story, and you can avoid it all if you want. The story is told through 2D animated cutscenes, all fully voiced by the various Bomberman Bros. characters. You see, the universe is under attack from the Black Moon, which leads the Bros. to Planet Fulvita, where the Ellon live. There are 100 of these little creatures to collect on each planet in the game, and they can help you out by powering warp points, opening fences to new areas, and triggering Secret Puzzles.
Unlike the first game, which just used “Bomberman” stages as the template for the single-player, this game has three distinct worlds with different themes. There are still bricks in the ground in a convenient grid, which the game maneuvers you to get into battles with. The Ellon are hiding in each area, and you must bring them back to base. Along the way, you’ll be alerted by your Bomberman Bros that your HQ is under attack and have to return to that to defend. In reality, this HQ is the “Castle” mode in the multiplayer, but set up to be a part of the story. In it, you’ll face off against a wave of enemies coming at your base. But it’s not just bombs you’ll have access to; there’s a bunch of gimmicks (their word, not mine) to slow them down or create a maze to make it hard to get in.
The more you level up in the story, the more gimmicks you can deploy. There’s a limit to how many items can be on the battlefield at once, so you’ll need to be crafty to make something that can defend against different types of Lugion. The story mode is almost a tutorial for all the new modes and, unfortunately, devolves into a grind. The hunt for Ellons is fine, but you must collect every single one and remove all the enemy bases to move on to the next world. Once I unlocked a few more gimmicks for the HQ map, I didn’t even bother to defend the base. The whole HQ mechanic uses the same systems as the level editor included with the game.
The little secret puzzle missions in the map are also too simple, aside from one or two, which were just named awkwardly, so it took a couple of goes. There’s no real punishment for dying, aside from going through the world’s map destroying blocks to navigate around again. The boss battles are creative but also over quickly. The whole thing feels like a process, and it doesn’t feel like you’re getting anything out of it.
So even if you’re not in this for the single-player – and be honest, you’re probably not – how does the online and local multiplayer all work? The good news is, locally, everything is there. You can play any mode; however you want, with up to 8 players and pick stages (even the ones you make yourself or download from online). The core of Bomberman remains intact, just like it has for the past forty years, and that’s a good thing. However, there’s only local play on one system now, and there’s no way to play with people with multiple copies of the game as there was with the first game.
It’s some of the new stuff that I find underwhelming. If you didn’t pick up from it before, the Castle mode is entirely underwhelming when wedged into the story. Online, it is even worse. I will preface this by saying the game isn’t out — but I can find people to play against. That or they’re putting me against bots, which it doesn’t disclose. Whenever I played Castle against randoms, I could sit there for two minutes and defend the last 30 seconds. It was easy currency; likewise, being on the offensive team, it felt like no one knew how to play, and you could steamroll the opposition. Worse, you can’t even pick what modes to play against randoms. For local multiplayer or private battles, you can, but just jumping online for a quick match, no such luck.
For online with random players, whatever is served up within that hour is what you play. It took me nearly two days to find Battle 64, as Standard, Castle, or Crystal modes would appear more frequently. There are two modes every hour, and it just always seemed to pick Castle. Again, it is early days; people might get better at this mode, but if you want to jump online and play “Bomberman”, you are at the whims of the schedule.
Battle 64 returns from R Online, and if you can find a match and be on within the correct hour, it’s still fun to play. Turning Bomberman into a Battle Royale is a great idea. There are multiple fields of multiple classic Bomberman maps, and they’re all connected with pipes. As the timer counts down and the player count dwindles, you’ll be ushered off your map to the next one and join the survivors. It gets very hectic toward the end, as most battle royales tend to.
As you win matches online, you’ll go up a grade (when the season opens upon release, during the review period, no grades were changing). You’ll also get currency to buy new Bombers, costumes, headpieces, BGM, and more. There’s a lot to unlock, but it’s all mainly from Super Bomberman R Online. The Bean Bomber, which features from Fall Guys, was free to unlock, but I spent my first 1000 coins on Naked Snake Bomber, of course — but there are a range of characters from Konami’s history, all with special abilities.
Super Bomberman R 2 both runs and looks like a mixed bag. The Switch version holds up performance-wise fine, but it is far from entirely stable. The game also sometimes has a lower resolution, with things looking fuzzy, especially on modes with bigger maps. It’s more than just that; the entire visual style is a bit much. The game’s soundtrack is serviceable for the most part but best taken in small doses. Hearing the same music loop repeatedly in the single player is quite annoying. Also, some of the enemy’s sounds on the overworld are runners-up for the most annoying sound in the world.
It feels like Konami don’t know what to do with Bomberman anymore. At its core, it is still a super fun multiplayer title, and with online, you can enjoy it without needing seven other friends huddled around the TV. But that’s nothing new; Bomberman has been online for years, and Super Bomberman R 2 has wrapped it up with more “stuff” to justify it no longer being a free-to-play title. Battle 64 is a lot of fun, but new modes like Castle didn’t do it for me. The story is cute, but I want something else from Bomberman. If you love Bomberman, you’ll have a blast (sorry), but it might be too much for everyone else.
+ Cute cutscenes in the story
+ Locally and with friends online works perfectly
+ Lots of Konami love throughout
- Online with randoms following a schedule with modes you might not want to play is annoying
- Story mode is a grind
- Graphically a bit much at times
- A lot of this game was free just last year