Bomberman games have always been a staple of my party nights
Growing up, I played the original as well as random spinoffs against bots and neighbours. As I got older, my friends and I stayed up till late hours playing newer iterations. Even now, I jump online for a game or two.
These games have evolved considerably since, and so I dived at the chance to see what Konami have cooked up next with the sequel to the brilliant Super Bomberman R. And while I haven’t had the chance to spend enough time with this one quite yet to give my final impressions, what I’ve seen so far is certainly…interesting.
Right now, I don’t love everything about this sequel. I like a lot about it, and am relieved there’s still classic matches. It’s a great choice to have characters based around inspired Konami IP, like Robbie the Rabbit of Silent Hill fame and Naked Snake. Even the Bean from Fall Guys shows up. Collaboration is where this series can really shine and thrive, and is sure to bring in fans far and wide. But that’s not the big story about this sequel.
Super Bomberman R 2 has an all-new adventure mode – which is surprisingly elaborate – and an all-new Castle Mode, which I’m a little less sold on. Both of which I’ve had time to sample and am able to talk a little bit about.
The story, as you’d expect, is pretty simplistic stuff. The bomber crew are flying around in their ship, moving between worlds and encounter a species known as Ellons on their travels. These helpful, baby-looking creatures have surprising powers which can activate key points within each world so they need to be protected at all costs.
As a Bomber (Person), you’ll go around blowing up rocks, trapping enemies, freeing Ellons, then opening up the wider world by unlocking gateways and using them on teleportation fast travel machines and secret mazes.
See, the adventure is semi open-world in that you move freely between various zones of your own will, trying to find all the Ellons, bring them to safety and killing enemies in real-time. With the aforementioned gateways, you need to have found a certain amount to open some gateways and unlock all zones, but with a bit of time and patience, it seems like that’s doable in no time.
Without doubt, it’s the most ambitious thing I’ve seen from a Bomberman game, which feels wholly appropriate to celebrate a 40th anniversary and a great way for Konami to reannounce itself to the world in the midst of a major comeback story.
Honestly, I love it. You gradually level up by blowing up enemies, picking up powerups, and solving the puzzles. And each level up gradually increases your core abilities, like speeding up and increasing the range of your bombs. You know, just like you’re in an actual match.
This later extends to giving you the ability to punch and kick bombs, which you’ll need to take on some of the trickier zones and fight back against raging cannons and conveyer belts sending you the wrong direction.
However, the action gets broken up by ambushes, otherwise known as Castle Battles. And for me, this is where things fall apart a bit. At least, for right now.
Basically, it seems each world has a set base you need to defend with various traps and within that base are five treasure chests. Your goal is to stop the enemy from claiming the five treasure chests at all costs. Even if you’re left with one when the time limit ends, you’ll still be victorious.
Before you do that, though, you need to set the place up with fortifications to slow down your enemies. You can place cannons, you can set up blockades, laser fields that repel enemies away and even additional blocks that need to be blown up.
This part can be quite satisfying as you try to place things carefully so as not to block your path when the battle starts, but equally make it difficult for your enemies to get to the top of the map, slowing them down as much as you can.
Placement can be a little fiddly to begin with as you use the mouse pointer with your controller and you’ll find it’s also quite easy to erase previous obstacles. But when the match starts proper, I found myself getting properly frustrated and boxed into one role.
I was essentially a glorified goalkeeper, trying to block the small entranceway to the chests from incoming enemies by hiding behind pillars and firing off a bunch of bombs. Even then, I was getting bypassed so quickly and just didn’t have time to stop them taking my chests.
Most times, I won by the skin of my teeth, running down the clock and trying to isolate my opponents in a corner, shoo’ing them away with bombs, but it never felt like I ever really got the purpose of the game. And if I did, it never felt particularly fun or satisfying.
This may change spending more time with it, but being honest, I’m not entirely optimistic. The Castle Battles are easily the part I hated most about story mode, and it’s pretty clear it favors multiplayer over a solo’ist trying to do it all on their own.
Fortunately, the few bot battles I had feel as good as ever, with some classic maps thrown in off the bat and the option to earn currency from victory (and defeat) which can then be spent on a wide variety of items, such as new characters, costumes, taunts and more.
It’s still a bit too early to provide a defining verdict on this one. I need more time and I wanted to wait until the servers were live to see how the multiplayer portion really functions – which, really, is where the game should shine. For now, I’d say this is definitely a game of two halves. On the one hand, the most polished, refined Bomberman experience yet, with lots to unlock and do, all coupled with an intriguing adventure mode full of challenges and possibility. On the other, a really confusing mode which, for me personally, just isn’t working or clicking. At least, not yet.
That said, I’d pretty comfortable saying this is the best Bomberman game of its kind out there right now and if you know exactly the kind of game you’re getting into and are just looking for more of that multiplayer fun you’re used to, but can now use Konami classic characters, this one really seems to fit the bill.
Super Bomberman R 2 releases September 13th on PC, Switch, PlayStation and Xbox
Code kindly provided by Konami for review purposes.
Played on PlayStation 5
Full overview to follow