I wanted to love Super Bomberman R. I have very fond memories of sitting huddled around a NES, and then later a Super Famicom, playing the frantic, last-man-standing bomb-dropping other-hyphenated-words maze game. Playing with friends or family, Bomberman’s multiplayer mayhem was always fun. Nintendo Switch seems like the perfect platform to rekindle those memories, and in many ways, it is.
See, there’s nothing particularly wrong with Super Bomberman R. The classic Bomberman gameplay is intact. It’s good old Bomberman, nothing more and nothing less, so it’s wise to keep expectations for its grand return in check. You’ll move around the maze-like level, blowing up walls, collecting power-ups and trapping enemies so you can dispense with them through the magic of explosives.
There’s an entirely adequate campaign attached to the game this time around, which has you and a (drop-in, drop-out) co-op friend blasting enemies, stepping over switches, avoiding hazards and blowing everything up on your way through 50 levels. It’s surprisingly short, and those 50 levels go by rather quickly, punctuated on the odd occasion by sometimes tricky boss fights. There’s some sort of silly narrative attached to it all, with its fictive contrivances delivered by bizarre – but bright and colourful cartoon sequences.
It doesn’t do very much to expand upon the Bomberman formula, though it does attempt to add variety by throwing in hazards and gizmos, like magnetic switches that attract bombs. Most levels have you trying to kill all enemies, but some task you with stepping over switches, collecting keys or rescuing NPCs. Later levels span across multiple screens, adding a fair amount of challenge, if not as much in the way of innovation as it may seem. I suppose that’s really as much meat as can be draped over Bomberman’s frame. It’s odd that the game doesn’t support 4 player co-op, as it really seems as it could.
On top of that, there’s an odd, almost pointless in-game currency option. For just about everything you do, you earn coins – which you can use to unlock characters and accessories, and also resurrect yourself when you die. Perhaps homage to the halcyon days of coin-guzzling arcades, but it feels unnecessary.
Of course, the main draw here is the multiplayer, which can be played local or online. Should you have the requisite number of controllers, you can play up to eight players locally. While that’s fine for TV play, having eight people huddled around the Switch’s 6.2-inch screen is unlikely to be a good experience.
Thankfully, the multiplayer does shine, and my own, limited 4-player games were a blast. It’s also quite nice that because of the Switch’s Joy-Cons, you’re able to play 2 player co-op and multiplayer right out of the box. There’s also support for LAN play, which seems like a bit of a waste, and online multiplayer.
Unfortunately, my experiences there have been abhorrent with games perpetually lagging out and becoming unplayable. It’s an unfortunate blight on what is a pretty fun game – and, barring the delightful Snipper clips, just about the best multiplayer offering on the Switch until Mario Kart 8 Deluxe arrives in April.
Still, it’s a game that’s very difficult to recommend, purely because it costs far too much for what it is. While it’s not my job to tell developers what to charge for their games, this, priced at $50 (R699 locally), just doesn’t seem like good value. When you contrast it with the Xbox 360’s Bomberman Live (which cost a much more palatable $10), the proposition looks startlingly worse.