Bomberman R sure is cheerful. Its bright, colourful graphics, chirpy music and sometimes-amusing story mean that it’s an easy fit for a Nintendo console launch. The big question is, with the game given a rather high premium price, can a Bomberman game, with its tried and tested gameplay, entice modern gamers into shelling out the same amount as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild?
You’re granted two main modes to sink your teeth into, with Vs Battle housing both local multiplayer and online options, while Story takes you through the game’s narrative and fifty levels available to blow your way through. Dastardly deeds are obviously afoot, and Emperor Buggler, a ne’er-do-well with a maniacal-laugh, and his Five Dastardly Bombers are the culprits.
The story begins on Planet Bomber, and introduces you to the eight Bomberman Bros. robots, all of whom live together and fulfil most of the personality stereotypes we’d expect from a family sitcom. It’s fairly amusing fare and provides a little framing to the well-worn action, with character unlocks, multiplayer maps and cosmetic options becoming available as you progress.
If you’ve ever played a Bomberman game before, you know what to expect. Move around the level, breaking down walls and killing enemies, with advancement based on fulfilling whatever that level asks of you, whether it’s clearing the board of baddies or pulling a couple of switches. Beginner, Veteran and Expert difficulty settings alter the number of lives you start with, as well as the challenge you’re going to get from the ordinary enemies and bosses. In a nice touch, you can also play through the Story mode in local co-op too, which Switch is capable of straight out of the box.
The higher difficulty levels do present a decent amount of challenge, and the boss battles in particular can be fun. The Dastardly bombers themselves can be tough, as they’re clearly programmed just to stay out of the way with preternatural speed, though if you’ve picked up enough power-ups, it’s generally easy enough to back them into a corner. Their secondary forms are the screen-filling highlights of the story mode, and while it’s nothing you haven’t seen before it can be fun taking them down.
It plays as well as you’d hope, with either the analogue stick or directional buttons providing accurate controls, and the isometric viewpoint is clear and easy to understand, whether playing on the TV or on the Switch’s screen. You’ve also got the option of either dynamic or fixed cameras too, depending on your preference. As ever, introducing other players into the mix can make things pretty chaotic, and if playing on the in-built screen, you’ll probably find you’re all crowding round attempting to get the best view. At least the Switch’s wide viewing angles vaguely help in this regard.
It’s multiplayer where the game shines of course, at least in local matches, and this is the Bomberman you know and love. Grab a few friends, bust out the Joy-cons or the Pro controller and you’re set, with four players on the tablet up to a whopping eight when playing on your television.
Online is a different matter, and in the test matches I had following release, every single one was a horrendous lag-fest. There’s clearly a big problem with the netcode at the moment, and I can’t imagine there’s a huge number of people playing the game at launch so there really shouldn’t be an issue. Hopefully it’s something that can be fixed in a future update.
You do of course need extra controllers too, at least if you want anything beyond local head to head match ups, so there is that to consider too. You don’t buy such things in a vacuum though; investing in a pro controller will probably serve you well in the long run, as would having enough Joy-cons for four player shenanigans. You’ve suddenly spent rather a lot of money, though.
The biggest problem here isn’t one particularly to do with the game and how it plays, but the value it offers. At £50 in the eShop and somewhere in that region at retail, there’s little question that it doesn’t live up to that price point. If it were closer to £20 on the eShop, I actually think this would fly off the virtual shelves, since it’s a great fit for the system, with local multiplayer, a pick up and play story mode, and classic gameplay that still holds up today.
Bomberman R isn’t remotely a £50 game. It is, at its base, a solid entry in a much-loved franchise, and one that plays to the Nintendo Switch’s strengths, even if will require plenty of investment to get the most out of it. The current online woes also do little to make it feel like a well-rounded package, making it difficult to recommend to anyone but the most committed Bomberman fan.