Game: Super Bomberman R
Super Bomberman R is the most recent entry in the long-running Bomberman series, exclusive to the Nintendo Switch.
The player takes control of one of several Bomberman characters (Bombermen?) across 50 levels, equally divided into five worlds spanning 10 levels each, in a quest to defeat the Five Dastardly Bombers and restore peace to the cosmos.
Taking cues and drawing inspiration from popular Japanese style animation techniques, the game features stunning and vibrant 2D cut-scenes that setup the main plot and progression points, albeit with some questionable voice acting. The main game unfortunately takes a wildly different approach to style, replacing these vibrant and colourful characters and environments with somewhat uninspired level design, coupled with a dull and bland colour palette.
With a heavy focus on three-dimensional level design, the game exhibits several problems that heavily impact gameplay to a frustrating degree, with movement precision being sacrificed in favour of freedom of movement, resulting in repetitive accidental deaths. As an example, taking a vertical route whilst weaving in and out of the fixed blocks is almost impossible, unlike the traditional grid like four way movement system which offered unparalleled precision. Bomb placement is also heavily affected by this design choice, as it creates constant issues when trying to accurately place a bomb. The results are usually catastrophic.
All of the traditional item powers are back, now sporting retro 2D icons. There are also items that negate the effects of traditional powerups and decrease certain stats, like blast length.
One thing to point out is that the game is NOTORIOUSLY difficult and frustrating. Unfortunately this difficulty level is not a result of clever level design, or reserved item placement, but rather a result of the aforementioned control system.
It took all of my core inner strength to prevent me from punching the screen, as made obvious by my frustration during my launch day live stream of World 1 – Technopolis.
The highlight to the Story mode are the boss fights. Challenging, interesting, and all fast paced. The boss designs are unique and fit in to the Bomberman world quite nicely. Each boss is equipped with its own abilities and movement styles, with various different attach modes. Every boss has its own weak point which must be exploited in order to defeat them and reclaim the World.
Bomberman Coins are the games in-game currency. Before you reach out for the pitchfork, there is no way offered for purchasing this currency with real money. Bomberman coins are instead earned in various ways; completing each World in the Story mode rewards you with a stash, the amount varying depending on how many lives were lost, and how quickly you made your way through it. Another way is to play through the local or online battle modes which grants you with a minuscule amount of coins in comparison.
The draw back to this is that these coins are required to “Continue” if you’ve lost all your lives half way through a world. If you don’t have any coins left, or you choose not to use them, you are thrown all the way to the beginning of the world. To make matters worse, there are 12 levels that need to be unlocked, each costing approximately 2,400 coins.
The battle modes leave a lot to be desired; whilst fun, the battle mode still suffers from the same aforementioned issues relating to movement. Many of the previous multiplayer elements return in Super Bomberman R, including the ability to bring yourself back into the arena by killing off one of the remaining bombers from the sidelines.
Whilst only playing through 10 online matches, I found the latency to be unbearable, even after attempting to cycle through different matchmaking options like “find players in the same country”, “find players around the world” and “find players with a good connection. Every match resulted in input lag, the character responding to an input after an entire second.
At its heart Super Bomberman R is still a Bomberman game. All the elements that made the old Bomberman games are there, though executed in questionable ways. Some of these issues could be refined in a future patch, yet it is too early to tell how game developers take to patching their games on Nintendo’s sporty new console.
Platform we played on: Nintendo Switch
Game Score: 6.5/10