Bomberman Live: Battlefest released back in 2010 on the Xbox Live Arcade, and it was the last entry in the Bomberman franchise. Now, after seven long years, there has finally come a new game in the series, namely Super Bomberman R for the Nintendo Switch. It's highly priced and one of those titles you might easily overlook with a brand new console like the Switch (especially when the likes of Zelda exist), but we urge you not to. Sure, it's really "only" Bomberman in exactly the way we've seen before, and there are indeed more graphically impressive games out there, but the fact is that the Switch does the series justice more than any other hardware since it landed on the Sega Saturn back in 1996.
Like most of you, we've laughed at the cheesy adverts where people are at home and play the Switch in brightly coloured kitchens or on the rooftops of an anonymous American city. Many of us thought they were trying a little too hard, but with Super Bomberman R, we suddenly see what they're getting at; there is a market for playing this way, but only if the games are right.
The basics of this ancient concept from 1983 still work well to this day, and even if new features are missing, the game has been modernised just as much as it needs to be, and the sharp Switch screen makes sure that it rarely gets messy in the matches, and it's fairly easy to keep track of who is doing what. It's fun to play with people both young and old, basically.
The battles quickly boil down to fights over the most important bonus items, and our multitasking abilities are put to the test when bombs are exploding everywhere and we have to keep track of where we put our own bombs and where opponents have dropped theirs. Despite the friendly appearance, it's a deep game where the better player usually wins if the other players don't team up. It's a formula that really works, and it makes everything even more fun.
On top of online and local multiplayer, there's also a story mode included on the cartridge, although it's bit of a stretch to actually call it a story. It's still funny and something to do for the lone player, though, and a good opportunity to practice. It also offers co-op, which makes it a lot more fun to bomb your way through it. A total of 50 stages and a handful of boss fights are included, which easily should have been at least twice that considering what the game costs, but at least it's fun while it lasts.
All is not rosy, however, and we have a little problem with the controls, especially when we play with the analog stick. Bomberman moves with a little delay, we felt, and we also observed that our inputs weren't what we imagined when we tried to avoid the orange guinea pig and purple cricket enemies during the story mode. Bomberman also tends to turn when you don't want to, and vice versa when you do. Add to this that it's a bit difficult to make him stop sometimes, and this is not where we want our Bomberman challenge to be found. The game is hard enough anyway.
Hopefully this is something that's fixed in a patch, since along with the unreasonably high price, this is the only real problem with the game. When it costs full price, there should be more than just a story mode to keep you entertained, along with the multiplayer (which includes a total of 20 maps). This is a game that really, really would have benefited from the opportunity to create your own content and being able to share it. With that and slightly more precise game controls, this would have been a modern classic totally worth the price.
At the end of the day this is really nothing more than what we got from Bomberman Live back in 2006, but with a price tag three times the size. It's still very fun though, and if you really love local multiplayer both at home and on the road, this is totally for you. Bomberman R's effortless portability means that this is one of the games that really demonstrates what a unique console the Nintendo Switch really is.