Video Games Review: Super Bomberman R brings the 8-bit era hero to a new generation, but mines familiar territory

Bomberman is one of those gaming franchises that has achieved Institution status. For many of us, even those of us who were born in the Eighties like me, it seems like the little guy has always been around. After series developer Hudson Soft folded up in 2012, it seemed like Bomberman‘s generation spanning run had finally come to an end. Now, having started his adventure on the NES all those years ago, Bomberman has come home to Nintendo, becoming one of the very first titles to grace their Switch platform. 

The thing you should know going into Super Bomberman R is that it is a Bomberman game, exactly as you remember them being. There is so little in Super Bomberman R that breaks from the established formula that the only way it could do something you haven’t seen before would be if you’ve never played Bomberman before in your life.

The clear draw for Super Bomberman R is the promise of multiplayer, made easier with the Switch’s standard twin Joy-Con controllers. Throwing four players into the mix is the ideal scenario, and is obviously what the game was built for. The bar graph of Fun Had vs Players Involved here is a line that heads sharply upward with every player added to mix. Playing by yourself isn’t a particularly enjoyable experience, it’s fine, you can wring some entertainment out of it’s 50-level story mode, but unless you throw in a second player (via terribly convenient drop-in-drop-out multiplayer) then its possible to breeze through it all in a little over an hour, which leaves the experience a touch flavourless.

Where the game’s multiplayer really shines is in the Switch’s physical versatility. Being able to have four-players battle together while the Switch is running in Tabletop Mode is a great addition, and if you know three other people who own a Switch you can unleash a total of eight players in TV Mode.

One addition that caused an immediate furrowed brow was the inclusion of microtransactions. It doesn’t push them very hard thankfully, and is willing to let you unlock most things with coins earned from simply playing the game. It’s an odd thing to come across a Bomberman game that will ask for more money but there you go. That sweet, sweet microtransaction cash comes for us all eventually it seems.

I’ve been finding difficult to come up with a summary par for this review so here’s the best I’ve got: I mean, it’s Bomberman. As I’ve said previously, you know what this is. You’ve probably played it before. Understanding that is critical to whether you’ll have a good time with this. I hope, in future, that the Bomberman series will find a new direction and start innovating again. Until then, there’s this.

Score: 6.5 out of 10
Highlights: Multiplayer IS fun; Some very cute animations
Lowlights: It’s Bomberman as you’ve known it for 30 years.
Developer: Konami, Digital HexaDrive
Publisher: Konami Digital Entertainment
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: Out now

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.