Switch Review: Super Bomberman R

Everyone right now is reviewing the new Zelda, and mine is coming for that, but I wanted to start smaller with a game that is getting gloriously overlooked.

When a video game company is launching a very high-profile, very unique new gaming system with almost no launch titles, it’s wise to pay attention to what is being offered.  I know that the Bomberman franchise (and especially the Super Bomberman series) has its loyal fans, and I know those folks are thrilled by this offering.  This review isn’t for those people.  They’re picking up this game no matter what, because nostalgia.

This review is for people like me, because that’s who I am and that’s who I write for.  I’m a very avid video game lover who grew up, had a family, and has precious little time these days to play.

I picked up Bomberman because it was the only game with serious multiplayer.  2 player co-op campaign and 8-player battle mode, both locally and online.  Yes, please.  I have kids, and the best chance I have of playing games these days, as a busy husband and father, is playing with them.  And play we did.

I can imagine that 8-player battle would be insane and intense, because 4-player was.  My son and I challenged our neighbor and a mutual friend, and we spent about an hour trash-talking in a good, retro throwback, arcade-style match-up.  It was a blast.  The matches are fast and furious, and the various power-ups are welcome and game-changing.  Going from laying one bomb at a time with a small explosion radius to laying several bombs, throwing and kicking them everywhere, lines of fire plaguing every aisle.

It may sound complicated, but it wasn’t, and that’s what made it so appealing.  My neighbor hasn’t been much of a gamer for  over a decade, but the fact that he could pick up a tiny Joy-Con, jump into the fray, and have a good time says a LOT about this game.  It’s simple enough that anyone can pick it up and play, it’ll keep you entertained for quite some time, and it’s complicated enough if you want it to be that the serious gamer can learn every intricate tip and trick.

I’d like to speak a little about the campaign mode, but we didn’t spend much time on that, just for a half hour or so when we were taking a break from Zelda over Culvers cheeseburgers.  I will go back and give it another shot, but I can tell you that the cinematics and voice-acting were cheesy as hell to the point my son (at 10 years old) mused that it felt like the game was for babies.  But then the levels started.  With what I felt was no real explanation on how to play (and games don’t come with instruction booklets anymore, though a retro title like this may benefit from one with a wink and nod to the days of yore), we were thrust into a muddled and haptic map and forced not to die.  Level one was easy enough, but we died several times on level 4 as the enemies continued to auto-spawn and we couldn’t figure out how to move on.  Not that all games should be easy, but this seemed overly difficult for the simplistic feel and tone that was conveyed.

What works for this game: The visuals are stunning.  The game maintains it’s classic feel despite receiving a modern overhaul in the visual and sound departments, which allows it to be more palatable.  The battle mode was a blast once we finally caught on to it and figured out the power-ups.

What didn’t work: the voice acting and overly-long opening cinematic.  The egregiously difficult campaign and the way I felt the game relied on me bringing a fore-knowledge of how the series is played with me into this title in order for me to enjoy it up-front.

Overall, I would say that I’m glad I took a chance on the game, and while I’m willing to give the story mode another go now that I understand the game from the battles, I would say it’s probably not worth it’s $50 price tag.  The game would have undoubtedly done better at a $30-$40 price point, and that, along with the way I feel the game plays too heavy-handed at nostalgia and threatens to alienate newcomers to the series, may hurt it in the long run.

However, if you’re looking for a game to play with friends or need a mental break from the stress and strain of Zelda’s puzzles, this one may be more to your liking than 1-2 Switch, Skylanders, or Just Dance.  At least until Mario Kart comes out in a month and a half.

Score: 2.75 of 5 Stars


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