As the “R” in the title suggests, Super Bomberman R is a rebirth or reboot for the long running franchise. The latest entry goes back to the blue bomber’s roots and drops some of the frills of past games for a more basic and accessible experience.
The original Bomberman debuted in 1983 from Hudson Soft who closed their doors in 2012. Now, decades later and over thirty games in, Konami has taken over the reigns and put out the first proper Bomberman title in over a decade. For the most part, Konami did an admirable job, however, there are a few places where the latest entry falls short.
The main campaign can be finished in a few hours, give or take, with a total of fifty stages. You’ll also be greeted with a boss battle after every nine or ten stages with these battles offering some of the highlights of Super Bomberman R. They’re challenging and usually start out as a more conventional fight, similar to multiplayer, having you run around the stage and throw bombs towards the boss until you hit him a few times with your explosions. After they’re weakened, they’ll summon a mech variant that tequires many more hits to take down, making battles particularly fun. This is because unlike the constrained movement of the main stages, these open areas provide you with full 360° movement while discovering and honing in on each mech’s weak points until you they’re bested. These battles require skill at times as well as being an exercise in patience in others. Sprinkled in between the levels and bosses are anime-style cutscenes which tell a barebones story through mediocre voice acting. Even still, I found a few members of the Bomberman family charming and some of their dialogue brought a smile to my face.
As far as the majority of the game, your main objective is to defeat every enemy in the level in order to activate the exit portal. At times, to mix things up, a few other mission types are thrown in like escorting civilians to safety, finding hidden keys, locating and activating all switches in a level, or surviving endless waves of enemies for a set period of time. The end result is always the same—walk through the activated portal to the next level. I tried the game in both Easy and Normal and found the balancing to be vastly different. In Easy enemies were rather trouble-free to take down, but in Normal they were considerably more challenging with their ability to move increased significantly along with filling the stage in greater numbers. Fortunately, the campaign supports drop-in local co-op with another player. Just be careful not to kill each other!
Speaking of multiplayer, you can play locally on one Switch in tabletop mode with up to four players or docked to a TV on one Switch with up to eight players. Alternatively, you can play online with up to eight other players or link up to eight Switches together via WiFI or LAN. In my time with multiplayer I found two people to be the best option for tabletop mode since the screen is small and I played with four people in TV mode and had fun. Unfortunately there are only eight stages from the beginning for multiplayer with twelve more available for unlock via the in-game currency earned by beating stages and bosses in the campaign. The currency is also used to unlock cosmetics for the eight characters you can play as well as for purchasing continues. Each continue costs ten credits in Easy mode and skyrockets to three-hundred credits in Normal mode. That’s a markup Martin Shkreli would approve of.
All in all, I’d say the multiplayer is stronger than the single player. It’s a shame then that Bomberman Live from a decade ago offered considerably more multiplayer customization depth and replayability for a price tag one-fifth of the cost at $10. Super Bomberman R is a tough sell at $50 and would be easier to recommend as a $20 or $30 game. If you want a stellar single player game, I suggest grabbing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (if you’re part of the 11% with a Switch who don’t already have it) and if it’s a multiplayer experience you’re looking for, get Snipperclips. It’s not that Super Bomberman R is a bad game—because it’s not—it’s just that it simply doesn’t offer enough depth for the asking price. With that said, it’s likely a far better way to spend $50 than 1-2 Switch.