The Bomberman franchise has been around for over thirty years and its legacy is mostly bright and positive. The series has always had a way of bringing everyone together for chaos, laughter, and the pure idea of making good memories while holding controllers. Bomberman 64 seems to have always been the fan favorite but I wouldn’t be surprised if this newest release ends up on some lists as well. The games typically feature a single player mode as well but the focus and intent has always been in the wild and crazy time that the multiplayer consistently brings to groups of people. It’s been ten years since the white bomber has been featured in his own major retail release and Super Bomberman R definitely brought some of the best that the series has to offer.
It’s fitting that the white bomber would make his big return on a Nintendo console since he’s enjoyed much of his success on Nintendo platforms. The original Bomberman saw release on a few other pieces of hardware before finally landing on the Famicom in 1985. I personally think the Switch’s launch has been pretty good so far (bolstered greatly by Breath of the Wild) but Super Bomberman R is a great part of the launch lineup as well. It does a lot of things right but one of them is definitely understanding the intent and purpose of Nintendo’s newest console. In a world filled with online multiplayer and headsets, Nintendo seeks to fill couches up with people by having them glued to Switch screens and TVs. The best strength of Super Bomberman R is helping Nintendo with their mission in getting a bunch of people together to have fun playing video games.
Super Bomberman R has three ways for you to play. You can choose from story mode, local multiplayer, and online multiplayer. Bomberman may be well known for its crazy and wacky multiplayer but the story mode is actually really fun, and it can also be played with one other person in local multiplayer. My Wife and I actually played through a large portion of the story mode together for my research on this review and we had a really great time. I know we will continue to revisit the story mode because of how much fun we had. It has its issues but the fun factor easily outweighs them.
My main issue with the story mode is that you can’t save your game after individual levels. You have to wait until worlds are cleared. This goes against the almost casual and pick-up-and-play nature of the game. I also don’t like that it costs coins (in-game currency–no IAP’s, don’t worry!) to continue after game overs. It’s not a huge deal because on beginner mode it’s only 10 coins but it still just feels unnecessary. The story mode is silly. It’s tongue in cheek but you’ll definitely get some laughs from the dialogue. There isn’t a ton going on but it’s not the point. The purpose of this game is the addictive and fun gameplay. The story mode will drop you into maze-like labyrinths that you’ll need to navigate across while completing objectives to reach the end portal. Your objective can consist of a few different things, from destroying all the enemies to finding three keys to hitting some switches that activate the portal. You’ll end up dropping bombs and battling numerous different enemies along the way. It may sound simplistic but it’s actually rather fun.
It can be difficult at times and it can even get pretty chaotic. Sometimes it’s tricky to know where moving enemies will end up and you may even end up jumping into your own bomb’s path. When you get killed by a bomb, you’re blasted into the air and it’s rather comical. As long as you have lives, you respawn at the beginning of the maze. If you don’t you end up paying some of your in-game coins. The major frustrating point within the story mode for me is running out of coins and starting an entire world over. Messing up a few levels in this somewhat casual game and getting tossed back to beginning just cuts into the fun. It almost feels like it goes against the message of the game. In all honesty though, you’ll be having enough fun with a friend or spouse that you probably won’t even care.
Placing bombs and running across the levels are a lot of fun though. You’ll be dropping bombs in specific spaces to kill enemies and destroy the environment. As you collect power-ups, you’ll be able to use more bombs at once, run faster, and other little changes to the gameplay. It can be chaotic but the fun thrives right within it. There were times in some battles where my Wife and I were dropping 5-8 bombs a piece at the same time. The levels were filled with explosions. There were also times we dropped bombs and while running would end up running into each other’s explosions. The enemies were still wiped out but our shared life pool took quite the beating as well. We played on beginner mode because continues are only 10 gold coins and so continues didn’t feel like as much of a punishment. I’m all for playing difficult games like Super Meat Boy and Bloodborne but I don’t need unnecessary difficulty elements finding their way into a fun party game.
Super Bomberman R controls very well. I found it a little bit more comfortable using the full joy-con instead of one of the halves but they both control pretty good. The D-Pad style buttons just feel like they control better because of the grid based style of the levels. The joysticks still work good though so if you only have joy-cons and want to play multiplayer, I don’t want you to feel like it isn’t an option. If you can afford it, full joy-cons or pro controllers would be optimal but it isn’t entirely necessary. My Wife and I just played on joy-con halves and we didn’t experience any issues that got in the way of the fun.
There are boss levels as well and they can get pretty crazy. These bosses are big and will take up a majority of the screen. These battles were an absolute blast (pun intended) to play as well. In these battles, you need to locate weak spots and then it’s bombs away. These battles resulted in hilarity and often times took longer than they could have just from how much fun and out of control they could get. I found story mode to be enjoyable in single player but the real fun lies in playing both story mode and battle mode with two or more people.
The battle mode was a lot of fun as well. In this mode you can play with up to 8 players and the objective is simple. Destroy the levels to get to each and then destroy each other. The more people you have for this mode, the more fun it will be. Online multiplayer is fun enough but the ultimate setting for this game is four to eight people all packed onto one couch. This has been the goal of Nintendo ever since the N64 released and Bomberman was there for that as well.
The music is really great and I found myself cranking the volume to hear all the different tunes. When I play this in single player mode, I normally play in tablet mode and have the headphones cranked. There are plenty of good tunes to be found here and they all fit and compliment the setting very nicely. The sound effects are satisfying as well, with explosions and cries yelled out when players are destroyed. If you’re looking for a fun time, this is mayhem and mischief at its finest.
Super Bomberman R is a great launch title and I think it’ll continue to gain in popularity throughout the life of the Nintendo Switch. It represents what the Switch is capable of and I hope to see people playing this everywhere from airports to break rooms, which this game is absolutely perfect for. The price tag may seem steep for some people and while I don’t personally ever think that should be a factor in a review score, it is worth mentioning. Super Bomberman R is $49.99 USD and with they’re being experiences like Breath of the Wild and I Am Setsuna for $59.99 and $39.99, that may feel a little high. I personally think it’s worth every penny but it’ll depend on how much multiplayer you think you’ll be getting out of it as that’s where the game shines the brightest. I am pretty addicted to the single player mode and feel the price is pretty fair in terms of content but understand the hesitation others may have. This is definitely a must-play though so if you feel like you just want to play some other games until you can pick it up later on sale, I understand. Just don’t make the mistake of never getting this game because it’s a worthy and necessary addition to every Switch owner’s library.
A review copy of Super Bomberman R was provided by Konami for the purposes of this review.
Super Bomberman R
- Fast paced and fun filled multiplayer for up to 8 people (local and online)
- Detailed maze-like labyrinths will take up plenty of time in story mode
- Single joy-cons can be used to play so multiplayer is possible right out of the box
- Music is catchy and something you'll want to crank
- Plenty of content both in story mode and multiplayer to keep you busy for months to come
- You can't save after levels, only after worlds
- It costs in-game currency to continue so you'll cut into money that can be used for customization