Real Talk By: Ms. Throwback
Bomberman is one of gaming’s most loved characters. He also has one of the longest running gaming series of all time. 33 years ago the first Bomberman was released and he hasn’t slowed down since. With the recent release of the Nintendo Switch system, Bomberman peaked his head again with the launch release of Super Bomberman R. One of the most exciting aspects of this game is that it is an actual sequel to the main franchise which hasn’t happened in over a decade. Bomberman has seen some rough times with developers coming and going, but how does this latest edition fair?
If you’ve never played a Bomberman game it can be generally considered a top-down view puzzle game. Bomberman is usually set in a series of walled mazes that involve enemies and item collection. As his name suggests, Bomberman’s weapon stock consists of, bombs. He uses these bombs to place strategically around the maze, blowing up some walls, killing enemies, and revealing secrets. Depending on what the player is blowing up, certain enemies, walls, and items in the game have certain interactions. They may blow up down the hall a little further, or freeze enemies in place. Learning the variation of Bomberman’s environment is part of the fun.
Multiplayer is where I spent most of my time with this game. The game is the classic Bomberman you remember. Players start in four corners of the map and bomb their way to the other players, collecting power-ups which allow them to place more powerful bombs or a greater number of bombs at one time. Players can also gain the ability to kick bombs or throw them over walls which all helps in the fight against your opponents.
There is a definite strategy to this game. It involves placing a bomb, backing up, reevaluating the map, and pushing forward. Newer players are obvious when placed directly into a game because they consistently blow themselves up by being in too much of a rush. Unlike other titles, the game is never about pushing through at light speed but rather about the strategy of the inward chaos which is ever-changing. Players who fail their mission early jump into a cart on the outside of the arena where they can still be part of the fun by throwing bombs at the players who are left. This was a nice addition since watching people finish a game you failed at early on is sometimes hard to do. It’s not just for nothing either. If the player on the outside actually gets a kill, they swap places with the person in the game and can continue inside of the map. The final countdown of the game brings blocks raining from the sky until the players left are forced to the center of the map where they will inevitably destroy one another.
Super Bomberman R. includes over 50 maps with different themes surrounding them. The themes are fairly classic, desert, water, you get the idea, but again the themes aren’t what is important. Graphically and artistically this game is nice looking. It doesn’t have to be overly impressive with graphical style, yet it’s clear, there is still some effort that has been taken, and it’s noticeable in this area. Some maps have certain aspects that create more of a challenge. One map has magnets on the inside of the arena pulling the bombs in different directions when they are placed.
The music and sound in the title is just good enough. It’s not terrible but there isn’t anything amazing about it. I don’t think this is especially surprising. The music runs on loops that are too short and can become awfully repetitive. While I was playing I almost didn’t notice the music because I was having a good time with the gameplay. However, the times that I did begin to the notice the music, it was almost annoying.
Controls definitely have a learning curve. You’d think with this type of title the controls would be simple, and they should be. Past Bomberman titles have implemented a rail like control scheme where the player points the direction they want to go and Bomberman follows placing himself in the nooks where he was safe. This time the controls are free which means that a player may not recognize they are sticking out into the hallway a centimeter too much and they will get blown up. It didn’t take long for me to realize this was a problem but I don’t think it had to be. I’d prefer for this title to have on-rails controls back.
Multiplayer matches can be set up with up to eight people. Strangely this is only possible if teams of two people are playing on the same switch. I’m sure this design might have worked if this wasn’t a launch title but since many people are still trying to get a switch, I found that I never was able to enter a match with eight players. Four or five person matches was the norm.
Unfortunately, there were many times during a match that the network connection was slowed down to almost a halt. When it works, it works well, but there are too many times when it doesn’t work at all. Developers have tried to resolve this by allowing the player to look for others with more adequate connections. This is not something I want to be worrying about when I’m playing an online title.
That being said, local connection with the Switch tablet is fantastic. The game is so simplistic that it makes perfect sense as a table top game. This is definitely a title you could bring to your friend’s house and while there is a learning curve to the controls, they are still simple enough that the tiny joycons work well.
Campaign mode is an option if you get frustrated with the online connection problem. Surprisingly the story mode isn’t half bad considering that this is heavily an online title. Story mode does include 40 stages in of itself which is a significant addition. The main objective when exploring ranges from taking out all the enemies, to activating switches and rescuing victims stuck on the stage. The coolest part about campaign mode were the boss/mech fights. Battles involve a specialized enemy that becomes a two-way fight to the death. These were surprisingly quite challenging, even frustrating at times. Mech fights occur when a boss enters a mechanized suit. Bomberman has to bomb weak points until the fight is concluded. Mechs were well designed and really neat to look at but not as challenging as bosses.
Overall, this title is a good time. It’s a nice title to pass some time while you wait for epic releases on Switch. Downloading it or purchasing it during this upcoming holiday season when prices inevitably drop is a must. Even renting it would make sense. I’m not sure that many people were excited for this as a launch title but it isn’t terrible and considering that there hasn’t been an addition to the main series in a long time, this game is worth playing.
Super Bomberman R Gets
3.5 out of 5
+Classic Bomberman feel
+Multiplayer works well, when it works
+Local play is perfect for this title
+Simple interface makes this easy to pick up and set down
+Graphics and art style are good enough
+Campaign mode is decently in-depth considering
+Plenty of maps, items, and enemy interfaces
-Music is quite annoying
-Online play depends on player connections and doesn’t always work