By James Daly
After years of humble instalments that felt more like mini-games than full-fledged titles, the Bomberman series has finally attempted to deliver blockbuster again with the brand new Super Bomberman R for Nintendo Switch.
Bomberman has traditionally offered an arcade game experience where the player takes control of an adorable character and makes use of a variety of handheld explosives to win matches or progress the story of a game. In this regard, Super Bomberman R offers nothing new except for some cute, slightly-animated cutscenes that take place between levels and are more reminiscent of comic books or manga than cartoons or anime.
Characters range in colour and gender, but ultimately all serve the same purpose of marauding through different levels trying to blow enemies into tiny little pieces in order to save a world in turmoil, all the while revealing a plot that involves some sinister Bombermen-types trying to cause a generic brand of chaos. Super Bomberman R offers a completely new plot so no prior knowledge of the series is required to appreciate it.
In short, the story is fine, but it is hardly the main selling point of this game.
Bomberman games have almost always been about multiplayer battles, pitting friends against each other in arenas designed to house an endless amount of explosives and offer little in terms of shelter from the carnage. In this way, Super Bomberman R delivers exactly what it should, with customisable battle settings and plenty of items to add to the mayhem.
The battles can feature up to eight players at once, either through local/wireless play or via online. This feature is what makes Super Bomberman R a brilliant party game, offering a simple concept that pleases audiences from novice players to hardcore gamers. It takes essentially no time to learn how to succeed, but mastering Super Bomberman R is almost impossible, meaning that everyone has a chance of winning.
The battle mode also offers the option of swapping out human-controlled characters for AI ones, allowing players to experience arguably the best mode of Super Bomberman R even when playing solo. The AI characters are by no means pushovers, making for challenging as well as exciting matches.
Unfortunately, Super Bomberman R doesn’t really deliver on the blockbuster front, feeling more like a glorified mini-game at times. The story is short and generally disinteresting, despite the efforts to make it a tongue-in-cheek, cheesy but charming affair. Some may even wonder why Konami bothered to make a story for it at all, though the cynical point of view would say this was vital to Konami charging as much as they do for the game. The £44.99 price tag (about $59 in the USA) makes Super Bomberman R quite expensive for what really does feel like a small game, though free DLC has been announced so that will hopefully make the game more deserving of the price tag.
Overall, Super Bomberman R is a fun game for newcomers and a decent instalment in a long series recently plagued by inadequate instalments. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel like the series is back to its former glory but that shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying this game.