As much as I enjoy playing the Bomberman series and the joy of trapping my friends and occasionally myself in a corner with bombs, I’ve actually never owned any of the games myself. I was introduced to the series with cousins and friends who had Bomberman games on their Nintendo 64 and Gamecube consoles.
Meanwhile, the closest I’d ever come to having my own copy of one of the games was a Playstation demo disc that let me play one level. In some ways, I’d kind of forgotten about the series over the years.
I was wonderfully reminded when Super Bomberman R was announced. I wasn’t sure if I would ever get a Switch, but it made me happy just to know that a new Bomberman was being made after so long. My feelings on it were a bit soured when I read the initial mixed reviews though, so even when it was ported to other platforms I didn’t give it much thought.
That changed once I actually did buy a Switch. As someone who had bought his Switch to mainly play Bayonetta 2 (while I wait for Bayonetta 3), Mario games, and Smash Bros. Ultimate, I eventually found myself hoping to play more games on the console.
I stumbled upon Super Bomberman R during a sale as I looked to fill that void and figured I might as well give it a shot. Bomberman games are pretty unique, so at the very least I figured it could keep me entertained here and there.
Comparing It to Super Bomberman, Bomberman 64, and Jetters
If you haven’t played a Bomberman game before, or only played one, it’s possible you may be unfamiliar with how this plays. To give you a better idea of how this game plays, I might as well briefly talk about a few of the others!
The series began in 1983 as a computer game but would become more widely known when it was released on the NES in 1985 as Bomberman. Future iterations would build upon the top-down gameplay with fan favorites such as Bomberman ‘94 (also when Bomberman’s modern design by the late Shoji Mizuno debuted) for the Sega Genesis and Super Bomberman for the Super NES.
These games compromise the basic and original Bomberman style: you play on a grid and use bombs and their cross-shaped explosions to destroy obstacles and enemies. While these games have single-player/cooperative content through worlds with stages and boss battles, they’re most memorable for the competitive multiplayer battle modes which pitted players against each other.
There would be a bit of a shake-up a few years later with 1997’s Bomberman 64 for the, you guessed it, Nintendo 64 console. It was notable for being the first 3D entry in the Bomberman series. The single-player adventure mode took on a more free-roam platformer style, complete with a rotating camera. Battle mode retained the top-down view albeit with 8-directional movement and open arenas.
After a variety of more games for the Playstation, Nintendo 64, and Game Boy Advance, Bomberman Generation would release on the Gamecube in 2002. While the game would build upon the 3D platformer-esque adventure mode from Bomberman 64 and essentially include their own small version of Pokemon (called Charaboms), the battle mode followed the original style of grid-based movement.
The game would see a follow-up of sorts only a few months later with Bomberman Jetters, a game based on the anime of the same name and improved on the mechanics of Bomberman Generations. One of the most unique aspects of the Gamecube entries is the visuals and their usage of cel-shading.
Although there were always multiple releases a year since the 90s, the series did begin to slow down in the late 2000s and took a break in 2011 after the release of Bomberman Dojo for mobile phones. Which is why the fans were considerably hyped upon the announcement of Super Bomberman R. It’s also why fans were especially critical towards the flaws of the game.
Super Bomberman R features both a story mode and a battle mode. Both use the original grid-based style of gameplay and it’s only with the boss battles in the story mode that a stage is more open and allows for free movement. The story is told through animated comic-like cutscenes. I’ve seen some criticisms pointed towards the voice acting, which by all means isn’t the greatest, but I feel wholly fits with the goofy vibe of the game.
Nevertheless, the competitive modes are of course what lets the game shine. While I appreciate the option to play the story cooperatively as well as the option for a second player to just jump in-between stages, I want to play Bomberman to throw bombs AT my friends. And Super Bomberman R allows me to do that with a lot of options.
You’re provided with a basic selection of stages and characters that grow as you complete the story mode and unlock further through the in-game shop. Over time the game has been updated with more stages and characters from other Konami series such as Silent Hill, Metal Gear, Castlevania, Zone of the Enders, and Gradius. Each platform that the game released on also has its own exclusive character as well.
The battle mode can be played with up to 8 players for the most chaotic of experiences. There’s also a team battle mode in case you don’t want to burn bridges with everyone in the party. The later added Grand Prix mode allows two teams of one, two, or three characters each to compete in four different game types.
Although the game was released to mixed reviews, the development team continued to update it throughout the year to add content and address issues. The stigma that it was overpriced for the amount of content it launched with stayed though and carried over to when it released on other platforms. And even if it wasn’t for that, there was one more large critique for the game.
Online Play Is Its Biggest Flaw
People play Bomberman to play against other people. While local co-op is always an option for this, it’s understandable for fans to want to play this game online and face people from all across the world. And playing online with this game isn’t great. Reviews marked it down at launch for being difficult to find a game and even then being a bit laggy.
Even when it was released on other platforms a year later, the issues were still present. At this point every platform’s community is essentially dead and you’re just going to be playing against the same people if you can ever find a match. If you’re just trying to play online with your friends only, it still might not be a smooth process.
I like it as something to bring out for a party/game night so I don’t regret purchasing it, especially since it was on sale. It’s been updated with a lot of content that makes it a wonderful game if you’re planning on playing it with people next to you. If your primary reason for playing Super Bomberman R is to play it online though, you should probably avoid this.
It’s a shame that the first Bomberman game to come out in so long isn’t without issues. The game is obviously made with a lot of care, but what’s most important is having fun with other people. When you can’t do that the way most would like, even if the potential is incredible, it’s a flawed Bomberman game.