SUPER BOMBERMAN R ON NINTENDO SWITCH
It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years since the last Bomberman title, and almost a decade since one was released on a Nintendo console. Yet here we are in 2017, with Nintendo Switch launch title Super Bomberman R offering the first in-game online services for the platform.
Considering that hiatus, Super Bomberman R is a decent next entry to the series due to its obvious and intentional connection to its roots. By zoning in on the series’ iconic grid-based, puzzle-like combat, it will appeal to players who are nostalgic for the SNES days with the original Super Bomberman local multiplayer as well as those new to the series by providing extremely similar gameplay on a new and flashy system with heightened graphics. Of course, Bomberman becomes increasingly more fun the more people you have to play with no matter what console you’re on, and Super Bomberman R offers multiplayer modes for local multiplayer for up to eight players as well as online functionality to battle strangers.
By pairing two Joy-Con controllers to four separate Nintendo Switch systems nearby or having eight Joy-Cons connected to one Switch, players can have an eight-player couch co-op match. For local multiplayer matches, you can have up to eight human players, or opt to have COMs replace the remaining slots if you wish. The Joy-Cons work well both together and separated for multiplayer play, (although the left one felt more conformable to me) and the best moments I had with the game were just messing around in matches with friends with each of us using a Joy-Con on the simple maps provided. Exactly the thing that made Bomberman such a hit on earlier platforms.
However, issues arose when trying to take this multiplayer fun online, as oftentimes I would be left waiting 10 minutes just to find even one other person to have a battle with. Admirably, Super Bomberman R allows you to play with just one other person if they happen to queue and you have been waiting a long time, but it’s much more fun to have four players and that didn’t happen as often as I would have liked. While in-game, the quality of play was noticeably inconsistent. Some matches were decent, while others were laggy with very slow response times for bomb placements and movement.
Often, the whole match would lag for a couple seconds with the Bombermen running in place, only for it to lurch back into play causing me to mess up and get hit by a bomb that exploded while I was lagging. Publisher Konami has acknowledged the online issues as early as release day, saying it is “now investigating.” At the time of writing, Super Bomberman R’s online battle mode does not come recommended, but this may be fixed in the future with a patch presumably on the way.
Super Bomberman R also has a short story mode, offering both solo and two player co-op to travel with the Bomberman Bros. across the universe to defeat a new incarnation of the series antagonist Bagura. The whole thing takes only a couple hours fighting the five dastardly bombers and then Bagura himself, and like anything Bomberman it’s much more fun while playing with a friend. The story mode also offers occasional animated scenes as rewards for progression, which felt like a throwback to Saturday morning cartoons in the late 90s. However, the story mode was extremely repetitive, both due to the levels leading up to boss battles and the bosses themselves. Levels that included defeating every enemy on the map were the best ones provided, but other types involving hitting switches, escorting NPCs, and surviving continual waves of enemies for a given time (you can just hide in a corner for pretty much the entirety of these) missed the mark. It’s worth noting the music for Super Bomberman R’s story mode was great, and probably would have been even better if paired with some more exciting gameplay.
The game also features an in-game currency system, which was obviously implemented to give more long-term end-goals to keep players invested. However, it comes off more as a roadblock standing between the player and fun. Gems are collected during matches and progression in the story mode as calculated by the number of power-ups you have versus how often you died. They can then be used to purchase cosmetic items, additional levels, and characters in the shop, or as a way to continue in the story mode after dying more than nine times. If you happen to die more than nine times and didn’t have enough gems to continue, not only will you have to restart the level, but the entire world (including eight levels, a boss duel, and final boss battle) from level one, which felt like an unjustified punishment. The in-game currency system blocking off maps to use in multiplayer also felt unfair in consideration of the game’s overly expensive price tag at $50 while also taking into account its super short story mode and dysfunctional online multiplayer.
If you’re thinking of picking up Super Bomberman R with your Switch, consider waiting a bit. Not only for the price tag to drop a bit and feel more reasonable, but also for the kinks in online multiplayer to get worked out. There’s definitely some fun moments to be had in Super Bomberman R, but not if you’re tackling it solo. Both the story mode and multiplayer modes succeed best while playing with others in the same room, but poorly implemented in-game currency, a repetitive and short story mode, and currently broken online system hinder this title, so the fun moments get lost within the frustrating ones.
Score: 2.5/5 – POOR