Bomberman has had a bit of a tumultuous history – but putting aside the ill-advised “gritty” reboot, the formula has not changed itself up all that much. The white bomber has enjoyed sporadic forays into the action adventure genre too. But Super Bomberman R feels like a return to the basics. A return to what made Bomberman so popular in the first place. It’s reasonably successful if not slightly undercooked in some places, But is Super Bomberman R worth your time and money on the Switch?
The first Bomberman game in seven years, Super Bomberman R is an action game that takes a level-based approach. It eschews the action-adventure, platforming filled designs of games like Bomberman 64 and instead returns to the arena battles that classic Bomberman is all about. There is a light story here that pushes you through “planets”, but it’s clearly designed for younger gamers and not aimed at someone like myself. The voice work is corny, the cut scenes are melodramatic (yet oddly charming) and presentation is vibrant.
The story mode itself surprised me quite a lot – with roughly fifty stages culminating in some challenging boss battles. The boss battles themselves are fun – pitting you against a single bomber mirroring yourself before progressing to intimidating, larger forms. It’s just a shame that this mode can be slightly repetitive. Levels in Story Mode rarely amount to anything more than defeating all enemies or finding certain objects, and often some of the early phases of boss battles can only truly be defeated by kamikazeing yourself.
What really brings value to Super Bomberman R isn’t the quirky presentation or the story mode but the battle mode and the robustness of your play options. Bomberman has been around for 33 years solely because it’s base gameplay is tried and true, and Super Bomberman R does a fantastic job of bringing this gameplay to a newer generation – but with one caveat. That caveat is that you’ll really need someone else to play the game’s signature Battle mode with.
Super Bomberman R has a myriad of control options – you can use your Joycons, you can use a singular Joycon, you can use a Pro Controller. You can even use two Joycons on the same television and take the fight online (though we’re not sure how this will work when Nintendo implements a paid service later this year). But no matter what way you choose to play the objective in Battle is the same – take down your opponent using whatever strategy (sneaky or not) to do so.
The multiplayer mode supports up to four players on the same switch and up to eight players online, and boy does it get frantic. Super Bomberman R does a great job at making players feel engaged even if they die from the beginning from a badly placed bomb. Players who die early spawn on the edge of the ring and can throw bombs into the arena for revenge, and if successful bring themselves back into the match.
Given that the Switch is a brand new console, it’s hard to believe that Super Bomberman R largely performs quite well. While the lack of voice chat is sorely noticed in a game as frenetic as Bomberman, finding and joining a match with a friend is surprisingly easy. The performance during matches is slightly more variable, however. Some lag is obvious during matches (even when I matched with other people in the same state) and would sometimes lead to deaths that were outside of my control (literally). But for the most part, and I mean about 95% of the time, Super Bomberman R works as a fun online multiplayer game. Even if you won’t be playing heaps of matches per session.
From a presentation standpoint, Super Bomberman R didn’t need to look amazing given how it’s played, but it’s still disappointing to see it running at 30 frames per second. The visuals are vibrant and colourful, sure, but such a standard framerate does have the action feeling a little bit too retro, too old school, and could’ve done wonders to make the flow of the game feel better.
But the big question that is no doubt on everybody’s lips is whether Super Bomberman R is worth it. Worth paying the same amount (in stores, at least) as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The obvious and resounding answer is a no. While Bomberman has been greatly designed to facilitate fast and easy multiplayer fun, the whole package feels too anaemic, with the single player especially feeling like it’s padded with way too much filler to be worth it.
Super Bomberman R is not worth the price of admission, but it is a surprisingly solid entry that plays best to the franchises strengths, rooted deep in multiplayer styles of play. While it does it’s best to add value to the package, most of this content comes off as incessant filler. Online works, to a point, but if you’re not grabbing Super Bomberman R for some fun multiplayer, it’s probably best to skip it entirely.
The Nintendo Switch version of this game was played for the purpose of this review. You can read our review policy HERE.