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CONSOLE: Nintendo Switch DEVELOPER: Konami; HexaDrive PUBLISHER: Konami
RELEASE DATE (NA): March 3, 2017 GENRE: Action
// review by Matt

Should Bomberman have stayed dead?

You won't be able to take your Switch on a plane now, because Super Bomberman R is here. And with its cruel and unfair restrictions and limitations, the game could be considered an act of terrorism. I wanted a Bomberman game that would be fun to play online, but what I got was so infuriating I am genuinely considering trading this in towards a game that doesn't punish you for not having godlike reflexes and deep pockets.

This is an online-enabled Bomberman game with a local story mode, some nice eye-popping visuals and a bombin' soundtrack. This is a game loaded with colourful visuals in an industry plagued by dull colours. Put bluntly, this is ten years too late. Super Bomberman R is the "multiplayer launch title" for the Switch and not much else. This game isn't designed to have a strong singleplayer component; no, that isn't what you're supposed to be coming back for. It's the core Bomberman multiplayer that is selling this title, and thankfully they haven't messed with it too much.

Yes, the offline multiplayer is wonderful. You can adjust all the parameters to your liking: item frequency, map choice, revenge carts, time limits, and all that wonderful stuff. Two players with a JoyCon each, it's an easy set-up for some kickin' multiplayer action. That's all well and good, but that's just one reasonable part of an otherwise weak package. They've exhumed Bomberman's dusty corpse and excreted a new console release — they've charged full price for, what is essentially, 2007's Bomberman Live but with a story mode.

If the local battles aren't what you came for, you can attempt this so-called "Story Mode". Well, really, it's a set of mazes with goals like "kill all enemies", "survive for a set amount of time", "activate all switches", and "escort Bombermen to the goal", just to name a handful. To briefly explain what a Bomberman game entails, you have to walk around a stage dropping bombs that explode. The challenge comes from learning where best to place bombs to trap enemies and grab useful powerups.

Super Bomberman R shakes things up by having differently shaped blocks and dynamic arenas that can be moved with by interacting with ground panels. The environments still don't feel as interactive as, say, Bomberman '94, but they're sufficiently different from the rather bland and uneventful Bomberman affair it could have been. Ice panels cause you to slide, magnets pull in your bombs... typical gimmickry but appreciated all the same.


I'm starting to think Atomic Bomberman was better.

Sure, Konami set out to make a good game, this I don't at all doubt. However, these funky controls mean more often than not bumping into enemies by accident, or sliding off a cliff when you didn't intend to, or walking into a bomb blast. A good Bomberman game has any mistakes be your fault, but losing lives because the controls aren't responsive (or perhaps TOO responsive?), that's no good. They were improved in the 1.2 patch, but I remember when games came out finished.

When you lose all your lives, you can continue... at a cost. You have to cough up "Gems", of which there aren't really enough to go around. Oh, and don't play on anything other than Beginner, because those revivals are EXPENSIVE. No, stay on Beginner where they cost only ten gems. Sure, the enemies crawl slower than Bokutte Upa, but at least a Game Over doesn't sting you too much. I really, really, really don't get this charging for revivals thing. Why would you do this? Why is this a thing? It's so dumb. Awful.

The story focuses on the Bomberman Bros., a group of characters who are tasked with saving the galaxy from the evil Buggler. It is punctuated with some average animated cutscenes with mediocre quality voice-acting. The story doesn't rewrite any rules, it won't win any awards, it's dull and generic. It's there just to be able to say, "we have a story mode, so we can justify an expensive retail price". The impression I get: rushed. This game was rushed.

At least there's online! Sort of! And we don't have to pay for it... yet, anyway. You can play a League Battle or a Free Battle, the difference being that one is for "glory" and the other is for fun. Do you win gems when you play for fun? Not as many as you do when you play "League Battle", but the most troubling thing "League Battle" is that you lose experience points if you lose a match. How does that even make sense? I've suddenly experienced less than before? I could understand not earning any points, but taking them away? 100 at a time? What the flying Horseshoe Gulch are you playing at here, Konami? You managed to turn online play from fun to awful in one single swoop by doing this. This was going to be my time-waster, no, you only went and wasted my time. You can get demoted by losing points, and you're stung an extra 60 points if beaten by someone a "lower rank" than you. This is ridiculous. Ko-operate-with-players-more-nami.

On this reason alone I outright cannot even recommend Super Bomberman R. I also don't feel like writing anymore. The "League Battle" is absolutely unfair. Besides, there isn't much else to talk about. Expensive customization items, something about fragments or something. Super Bomberman R is sitting there in the chair, mumbling to himself, drunker than the combined members of the Rhode Island state house, wearing his "I'm Actually In My Thirties" Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles T-shirt. He's the uncle you were told to stay away from, because he doesn't shower and the missing Sears catalogue is always found stuffed under his mattress.


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