I still remember the late nights playing Super Bomberman on the SNES with friends. It came with the 4-player Super Multitap for epic battles. As the years went on, Bomberman graced nearly every system that released. My absolute favorite installment was for the Sega Saturn: Saturn Bomberman. Assuming you had the required accessories, you could play up to ten players simultaneously. It had a wide range of characters to choose from, like Master Higgins from Adventure Island and Bonk. It also included one of the best features ever in a Bomberman game: dinosaurs. You could ride different colored dinos, each having a special ability to make the battles even more fun and exciting. Saturn Bomberman has a permanent spot in the CD tray of my system and I still play it several times a year with friends. That’s why, after all these years; the prospect of an all-new game in the series for the Nintendo Switch really excited me. Can I finally retire my Saturn?
Super Bomberman R is a launch title for the Nintendo Switch. It features a full-fledged Story Mode that can be played solo or co-op with a second player. Upon entering this mode you’ll be introduced to a lengthy cinema scene with animé-style visuals and English voices. Basically it’s the same plot as every past Bomberman game: an evil dude has come to take over the planets and it’s up to you to stop him and his dastardly minions. You’ll do this by bombing your way through stage after stage until you defeat all of the bosses and reach the end.
The usual power-ups and objectives are similar to past efforts. If you’ve never played a traditional Bomberman game before, it’s an easy concept to understand. Each stage is made up of breakable blocks that can be bombed, and certain other blocks that are impervious to damage. Once you lay a bomb, you cannot step over it, and its flame will shoot out in four directions. The flame will be stopped by the impervious blocks, but will destroy one layer of destructible blocks. So, there’s some strategy involved when laying your bomb down: you don’t want to block yourself into a corner with nowhere to run to avoid your own flames. Breaking the destructible blocks will clear a path and also can result in special power-ups. These include extra bombs so you can lay more than one at a time, longer flames to reach further across the stage, kickers to allow you to kick a bomb, gloves to pick up bombs and throw them, punching gloves to knock a bomb over a wall, and roller-skates to give you a faster walking speed. There can be downgrades and even diseases hidden in the blocks as well, so you’ll want to be careful before just picking up icons willy nilly.
There are enemies wandering about the stages that can be destroyed. Most of them are rather mindless drones (at least at the beginning of the game) and will even walk right into your bomb’s path. Some levels will require you to defeat all enemies to progress, while others will have different objectives, such as finding and pushing all of the required switches to open the exit. Each world features 8 levels and then a fight with an evil bomber and then a big boss. All told there are 50 stages to plow through, which is pretty meaty for a Bomberman game.
There are multiple difficulty settings for the Story Mode. It seems to mostly change the number of lives you start with. This game can be deceptively difficult when it comes to fighting the bosses, so there’s no shame in choosing Easy to have a better shot at winning. If you do fall in battle and lose all of your lives, you can spend in-game currency to continue. If you run out of this money, you’ll have to go back and play some more to earn more cash to continue. This is a slightly odd mechanic and not one that I particularly like. Since there aren’t any Achievements or Trophies on the Switch, it might be worth it to just stick the game on Easy and go at it that way. Save yourself some frustration and avoid the currency problem altogether.
Of course, not many people buy a Bomberman game for the Story Mode. The developers even know that, after all they place Battle Mode first on the menu! Super Bomberman R supports up to 8 players simultaneously. If you have 8 controllers (any combination will work) for the Switch you can all play on a single TV. You can also play in Tabletop Mode for local play with up to 8 players (4 Switches with 2 players on each Switch). Of course you can take the battle online with up to 2 people on a Switch connecting to the Internet. You can choose to have computer-controlled bots to fill in the roster if you so choose.
The game offers up some options for the Battle Mode. These have been present in past games, but it’s nice to see them return. You can select how many sets it takes to win a match, the time limit, and set the start position as fixed or random. Revenge Carts are optional, and I’m torn as to whether or not I like this mode on or off. I traditionally prefer this to be off, since what it does is allows people that have been killed in battle to keep playing on the outside walls of the course. They can lob bombs down from the sky and try to take out the remaining players. If they succeed, they get to come back into the game and the dead player is now trying to bomb everyone and attempt to get back into the action. While this does keep everyone playing the game all the time, it can get way too hectic with lots of people playing and I’m not a big fan of second chances in this game. Pressure Blocks I always leave on, so if the game gets down to a minute left, the blocks will make the stage smaller to up the pressure. Skulls I always leave on as well, since they can be fun. They cause diseases, like Bomb Diarrhea (you can’t stop laying bombs), which can be hilarious and can be given to other players.
For this review I played in the four-player Battle Mode with three friends. I began playing matches with the Pro Controller, while two others used individual Joy-Con controllers and the other used two Joy-Cons in the Grip. What I found very interesting is that for this game in particular, I preferred using the individual Joy-Con over the Pro Controller. For some reason the d-pad on the Pro just didn’t seem very accurate and the analog stick didn’t either. I often found myself moving too far, or not far enough and had difficulties with precision. After I traded off with someone else and used a single Joy-Con, I performed much better. This surprised me because I had concerns whether or not the analog stick on a Joy-Con would suffice, but I had no issues with it at all. This bodes well for those out there hoping to get a 2-player match going with just the Joy-Cons.
We had a great time playing the different multiplayer maps available. There are more to purchase with the in-game currency, but we didn’t have enough to buy any of them. Most of them looked like slightly different variations of the ones already unlocked. As we played through various matches, it became clear that the game still has that classic Bomberman addictive quality. It’s easy for anyone to pick up and play, which we tested with one player in our group never having played a Bomberman game before. He actually was victorious in a few rounds. One thing I didn’t care for was the camera movement on the stages. Luckily you can turn that off in the options menu so it stays put like previous games. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I missed the dinosaur power-ups from Saturn Bomberman, but we still had a really fun time.
Graphically Super Bomberman R is a mixed bag. Some will like its art direction, and some will inevitably hate it. Parts of it work well, but it does seem like a mish mash of art styles thrown together. For example, the characters look great in the character select screens and in the animated movie clips. But in-game they don’t look as good and the levels sort of look like something someone would make in Unreal Engine to see how realistic they could get the rock textures to look. The tilted stages in Story Mode are especially frustrating because pressing up on the control stick actually moves you diagonally up. It works, but it’s needlessly complicated for a game that’s not supposed to be complicated. We don’t need realistic shadows and realistic looking backgrounds in a Bomberman game. Give me colorful and pixelated sprites over this any day of the week. It’s not horrible, but I prefer the classic look to what’s presented in this title.
The music is typical Bomberman. It’s upbeat and happy, and it’s sort of catchy. One huge improvement over Saturn Bomberman is that the Battle Mode music changes depending on the stage you play. Thank goodness! Now I won’t have a migraine from hearing the same song on loop for hours at a time. I do miss the power-up voice announcements like “Speed Up!” that were in Saturn Bomberman, but they do have voices for each Bomber this time around and they are somewhat hilarious at times. They’re gunning for a younger audience with some of the quips, but overall I found them endearing.
In the end, Super Bomberman R captures the essence of the classic games. It’s easier than ever before to enjoy some Battle Mode with friends, whether it’s a quick match by snapping the Joy-Cons off on the go, or on the big TV with 8 players. The online options allow for you to partake in some Bomberman action whether you have friends over or not. Unfortunately, unlike the Nintendo DS Bomberman, this game doesn’t support download play, which means that if you want to play against someone with another Nintendo Switch, he or she has to own a copy of the game. While it doesn’t replace Saturn Bomberman as my favorite game in the series, it does a fantastic job of bringing the classic action back to life on a current system, and that should be celebrated.
Super Bomberman R Review
- Graphics - 7.5/107.5/10
- Sound - 8/108/10
- Gameplay - 8/108/10
- Lasting Appeal - 8.5/108.5/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
If you’re looking for some fun multiplayer action on your Nintendo Switch, Super Bomberman R is sure to please. While it’s fun online, nothing beats a good local match, and with Joy-Cons always ready to go you can have a blast anytime, no matter where you’re at!