Super Bomberman R is a charming and fun game in short segments, but its lack of content and confusing difficulty curves make it feel less like a fully-featured retail game, and more like an underwhelming budget title.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)
MonsterVine was provided with a copy of the game for review.
Bomberman is a franchise that seems to disappear from time to time, hopping in and out of relevancy in a confusing fashion. For such a fundamentally solid series with a concept that thrives on fun and simplicity, Bomberman is disappointingly absent from the main stage in the video game industry. This is why it was so exciting to see Bomberman R as a Switch launch title, and why it’s so disappointing that it’s a short and janky experience that’s more akin to a budget game than a fully-featured release.
The story mode in Bomberman R is the only single-player mode available in the game. The concept is simple: the Bomberman Bros. are living in harmony together, slacking off and occasionally training to protect the world from future dangers. Suddenly, the villainous Buggler appears on T.V., saying that he’s taken over the galaxy, and that he and his Five Dastardly Bombers will destroy anyone who doesn’t kneel to them. Spurred to action, the Bombermen go off to battle the Bombers, beat Buggler, and save the galaxy.
“Each color of Bomber has their own personality, all of which are over-the-top and wonderfully hammy“
The story is simple, but that’s exactly what the storyline of a Bomberman game should be. What matters is the characters, all of whom are incredibly charming in their own ridiculous way. Each color of Bomber has their own personality, all of which are over-the-top and wonderfully hammy. White, the main Bomberman everybody knows, yearns for justice and the ability to protect others, while Blue is a lazy dope that is asleep every time you see him. The Dastardly Bombers have their own quirks that seem to be a play on the typical anime-villain clichés, making the story itself a brief but fun adventure.
The single player mode’s gameplay is another story. At its center, Bomberman R is a classic Bomberman game, where you simply run around a grid, dropping bombs and hiding behind walls to eliminate your foes. While the core gameplay is fun and the visuals of each stage are unique, the levels and their design is a major problem. Each stage jumps between different win conditions. Some stages have you eliminate all enemies on the field, while others have you survive for a set amount of time, or find keys inside of blocks. These modes are fine in concept, but unbalanced in execution. Finding keys is a pain when the spawn rates for enemies ramp up continually, while survival mode can be easily beaten by just hiding in a corner. It feels inconsistent, and makes the later worlds feel like a slog, even with its short playtime.
While the story is lengthened by the three optional difficulty modes, the complete lack of balance for each setting makes the story mode frustrating. When you lose all of your lives, you have to use coins that you earn from beating worlds to continue the current world without restarting entirely, which is a pain in and of itself. While the regular Veteran mode charges you 300 coins to revive, Beginner only costs you 10 coins. Since clearing a world and its boss with the set amount of lives is so difficult, you’ll find yourself playing on Beginner simply because you can’t afford to continue on other difficulties. This discourages you from trying harder settings, as only Beginner affords you the ability to play without resetting on each world. It’s needlessly frustrating, and it burned me out on the game more quickly.
The overall gameplay is what you should expect from Bomberman in the best way possible. It’s still a blast to run around a grid to blow enemies away with well-placed bombs and fast-paced tactics. Power-ups, like the ability to toss bombs over walls, or to expand your blast radius, make things get more and more intense, which will surely break some friendships. It’s easy to get sucked into a match, especially towards the end of a long match against that one friend who takes it too seriously, making you do the same thing.
“Since clearing a world and its boss with the set amount of lives is so difficult, you’ll find yourself playing on Beginner simply because you can’t afford to continue on other difficulties.“
Multiplayer is the highlight of Bomberman R, which you can play locally or online. While I occasionally had some issues with online freezes, it was a rarity, as most matches were smooth for the most part. Playing online to show off your skills and advance through the ranks is personally rewarding, as each victory makes you feel like the most powerful Bomberman online, and each loss makes you feel humiliated, and hungry for more. It’s the only part of Bomberman R that is worth playing in the long-run, so it’s reassuring to see that it’s a well-made system.
The visuals of Bomberman R are cute and quirky. Each Bomber feels unique and silly, and the cutscenes, while basic, are full of life and energy. The in-game visuals are a bit less impressive, but the simplified style means the slightly less-than exceptional 3D models look decent. Each character moves differently as well, depending on their personality, which is a nice touch that gives the game even more charm.
Bomberman R‘s sound is exciting for the most part, with a few tracks that start to wear on you as time goes on. The voice acting stands out thanks to the cheesiness that fills every line. It’s clear that the voice actors were having a lot of fun with their lines, as the ridiculous voices and dialogue fits the tone of the game perfectly. A lot of the songs pump you up and make matches feel fast and furious, but there are a few tracks that are both short and annoying, such as the main menu theme, meaning the endless looping of these tracks may drive you insane.
The Final Word
Super Bomberman R is fun to play with others, but its single-player lacks both length and strong design. While the game is charming and great for multi-player, the lack of content outside of the multiplayer makes it hard to justify Bomberman R especially at a full retail price.
-MonsterVine Review Score: 3 out of 5 – Average