Super Bomberman R is easily the best multiplayer title for the Nintendo Switch at launch. It evokes a sense of nostalgia, not only through the gameplay, but through the proper presentation of the Nintendo Switch hardware. Use of the JoyCon is functional and brings back that feeling of playing the NES with your friends.
+Co-op throughout the entire story
+Battlemode is fun and easy to setup
-Story is short
-Online is super limited
-Not too many viable boards offered in multiplayer
When everyone was complaining about the launch titles for the Switch being limited to Zelda, I kept shouting back “What about Bomberman!?” I’ve been a life-long Bomber-fan since I first started playing the series on the NES. It’s a game that it near and dear to my heart, primarily because it’s a franchise I’ve always been damned good at.
As far as I was concerned, Super Bomberman R was as good of a reason to own a Switch on launch day as Zelda was. Whether you agree or not is neither here nor there, nor do I need to hear your multiple reasons why the two titles aren’t even close to the same category.
Super Bomberman R features to main gameplay options: The story mode, and the classic battle mode. Each of these has a distinct feeling that expands the idea of the story beyond just being a series of the competitive maps against AI opponents. The main change, for better or worse, being that in the Story mode the maps that you’ll be fighting through are fully designed 3D maps played on a ¾ view.
While I appreciate the design choice, it can get a bit frustrating to try and plot out where you can stand safely when portions of the map are hidden behind the classic indestructible bricks. Several times throughout the story I found myself standing with one toe over a line I couldn’t quite see and blowing myself to oblivion resulting in a stream of shouted profanities. It is especially frustrating in a game where your continues are purchased with in-game currency. You need to have earned coins to buy back in, otherwise, you’ll be shot back to the beginning of the world you were progressing through (in some cases jumping you back as many as four levels to start over).
One of the highest bits of praise that I can offer Super Bomberman R and its Switch presentation is the overwhelming wave of nostalgia it elicits. It’s not just the gameplay is classic Bomberman, but that you’re playing on a tiny, simplistic controller with your friend(s) and it feels like that first time I sat down to blow up buddies on the NES.
Everything about the game and the console working in unison, in this case, kept drawing me straight back to the early ‘90s. Now that can be a good thing, or it can be a bad thing. If you are happy with modern gaming being full screen and remote with a proper controller that fits in your over-sized mitts, then this might not be for you. However, if you long for the days of your childhood and squishing in beside a friend to see the too-small screen with a paddle that just barely fit into your hands, Bomberman is going to give you a heaping helping of the warm fuzzies.
Interestingly, the single player or “story mode” in the game deviates from what I remember of Bomberman. Instead of being a series of boards to clear enemies, there are more what I would call “levels” of the game. Not only in the sense that each world has several levels to it, but the boards themselves offer unique challenges each time around, like having to hit switches, clear rooms of enemies, move across multiple sections on a single board, build or destroy your way to new locations, etc. etc.
It works well enough, though as mentioned the view-plane that they went with to make sure you know there’s more than one platform height can lead to some weird misplacements of feet and bombs that’ll lead you to die unexpectedly; especially frustrating when your continues have to be purchased with in-game currency.
At the send of each world there’s a boss fight that consists of two phases: The first is a traditional mapping where you run around a board that has obstructions to blow away to get yourself into a position where you can block in the boss with bombs and destroy him/her before she/he does the same to you! – These are easily the most frustrating boards in the game.
The second phase is, thankfully, much easier. What you do instead is fight them in their “ultimate form” which is some manner of a large lumbering mechanized device on an opened board, clear of obstructions, which means you can lay bombs to your hearts content and more than likely you’re going to hit the boss-character. You just need to be warry of returned/counter attacks (generally these are slow and come with a ground-indicator to show where they will land).
Multiplayer in the game, or the real reason to purchase as I might call it, consists of three different options: local, LAN, and network. That means you can either play with up to four players on one console, 8 players across multiple Switch consoles, or play online with randoms. It’s pretty much what you’d expect, in the classic free-for-all game type where you can customize the boards, starting positions, abilities and power-ups that exist within the core game. It works well and is thus far the best way to play the Switch with friends to show case the JoyCon and multiplayer that I’ve found.
As mentioned, so far Super Bomberman R is my favorite multiplayer experience for the Switch. When the console was announced and everyone was complaining about there only being “one game” for the system, I kept pointing and yelling at Super Bomberman R.
It is, in my opinion, the best thing you can get for multiplayer party-gaming with your friends right now. However, I can admit that the price tag (as is with all the Nintendo Switch launch titles) is a bit beyond what it should be considering how short the story mode is and how few options there are for customizing the multiplayer matches; not to mention the rather empty online services currently as at launch it seemed there was only myself and one other player matching up online (not enough for to even start a game).
If you have the money and want something for your friends to play together on Switch, this is a much better option than the first-party options from Nintendo (SnipperClips and 1-2-Switch).
At a full priced game, though ($65 Canadian) it can be hard to justify the purchase considering how short the story is, and how few options there are to mix-up the multiplayer mode. When the game is in the same price-class of Zelda at launch it's a tough sell. If you’re tight on funds after the purchase of the console and Zelda though, it’s completely reasonable to wait for a sale before picking this one up.
Review is based on a retail version for Nintendo Switch, provided by the Publisher.
Release Date: March 3rd, 2017