Bomberman has been on console hiatus since the Xbox Live Arcade in 2010. That is, until a certain split-second clip during Nintendo’s Switch presentation caught a few people’s eyes. Said clip showed a familiar face and some bombs exploding in plus-shaped patterns in an arena populated by breakable blocks. Soon after, Nintendo Treehouse showed us a more in-depth sneak peek at Super Bomberman R, including the story mode and some of the multiplayer.
Bomberman’s campaign segment allows players to team up, select their favorite color of a bomber, and take to sandbox-like stages as they blast their way through obstacles, enemies, and… themselves. Fans of the series will probably recall Bomberman 64, Second attack, and Generation as their series favorites. Unlike the series’s best and brightest, this newest entry returns to its 2D roots. Those who were hoping for another 3D adventure might be disappointed at Nintendo’s continued obsession with making everything retro, but this decision could be a blessing in disguise. It was that core life-or-death strategic bomb placement that made the games so much fun. Every inch of every stage was a puzzle onto itself as players judged the reach of their bombs, their ability to get away in time, and the best route through the level. A cooperative campaign only adds to the helter-skelter mayhem of trying to stay alive when your own character is more of a threat to himself than the enemies are.
The multiplayer supports up to eight combatants. Things are wild enough even with the regular four, and doubling that number is a recipe for beautiful, glorious hell. Anyone who’s ever played a Bomberman multiplayer knows that the entire point of the mode is to piss everyone else off as much as possible. This time, revenge carts allow slandered casualties to target their murderers with an endless supply of justice. Even if they don’t succeed, they experience the sick pleasure of chasing their least favorite person all over the map until the timer hits zero.
Bomberman has more than proven himself in the world of 3D, but cooperation in the series has thus far been limited to nonexistent. While a 2-player experience is certainly achievable, the 2D treatment tightens the experience and makes it that much more imperative to communicate and strategize. The graphics and lack of 3D might be a step down from previous games, but it’s a very small step. The important thing is that the white bomber is back in action, and the gameplay is designed around everything that makes Bomberman, Bomberman.
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Matt Eschbach is a PC, Mac and Android indie game developer and fiction writer. His works have won multiple monetary awards from various contests. Graduating college in 2012 with a major in Game Design, Matt spends his time making stuff up and then building it. His favorite hobby… is sleeping.