Platforms: Windows (Reviewed), Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch
Release Date: 14 September 2023
Price: $49.99 USD / $73.50 AUD – Available Here (US Switch), Available Here (AU Switch), and Available Here (PC Steam)
Bomberman turned 40 this year, and there would be no better way to commemorate such an impressive landmark than with a new game. SUPER BOMBERMAN R 2 follows up on 2017’s Super Bomberman R. R 2 doesn’t shake up things much when compared to R; instead, Konami preferred to play it safe and just mix things here and there. That said, does SUPER BOMBERMAN 2 R retain the chaotic and fun gameplay that’s a trademark of the series?
While patrolling the galaxy in search of a villain to blast-off, the Bomberman Bros. come across a suspicious signal. It seems that a ship, classified as a planet destroyer, dubbed “Black Moon” is unleashing chaos, as its crew is looking for a stone called Ellonite. Seeing this, White Bomber and his weird brothers and sisters decide to intervene. As they investigate one of the attacked planets, they come across a race of baby-looking critters, complete with bibs and pacifiers, called Ellons. The Ellons are responsible for guarding the Ellonite, but they can’t stand against the enemy alone. Thus, White Bomber and his less-than-willing siblings decide to lend a hand in order to fend off the Black Moon menace.
Animated sequences narrate White Bomber’s predicament as he tries, without much success, to get his siblings to help protect the Ellons. The other Bombermen just seem to lack the focus and common-sense needed to accomplish a serious task without White Bomber’s guidance. While watching these cartoons may sound like a hilariously good time, they’re anything but funny or fun. The writing is atrocious, which is a pity, because the cutscenes could at least be on the level of a Smurfs episode if the writers tried a bit harder.
In story mode, the Bomber Bros. must liberate three worlds, each comprising several stages; these are designed as simple mazes that can be traversed without any difficulty. After setting up a base, players need to do a bit of exploration in order to find Ellons trapped throughout the map, as they’re needed to unlock the following stages. Detonating enemies and blocks along the way grants items used to increase the world level; this is how players can acquire classic Bomberman power-ups and also parts used in the base-building portion of the game. Furthermore, enemies will sometimes attack the player’s base which will trigger a side-activity where White Bomber must halt advancing enemies by upgrading the base with items unlocked during stages.
At first, I liked the idea of combining traditional Bomberman mechanics with exploration and a bit of RPG. But unfortunately, little thought was put into actually designing these stages. Enemies are found wandering aimlessly on the overworld, and they’re almost never a threat. The number of abilities that can be unlocked is very limited; much farther into the second world, I was disappointed when I realized that I had unlocked the exact same abilities that I got on the first world. Additionally, boss battles, while interesting at a glance, fall too easily and require little effort or thought from players.
Online battle pits players against each other in a variety of gameplay modes. Castle is new to R2, and it’s the same capture the flag section found in story mode where teams take turns defending or attacking the base. Standard is the classic Bomberman that players love, while in Battle 64 up to 64 players can compete to see who gets to be the last one standing. Online play flows surprisingly well. The addition of crossplay between a variety of platforms means that finding matches won’t take more than a few minutes. The only drawback here is that players can’t choose a specific mode. Instead, they rotate daily. While this will certainly be a major point of contention between many players, I personally like all modes, even if Standard and Battle 64 are the highlights as always.
SUPER BOMBERMAN R 2 disappoints by delivering the same level of graphical fidelity found in its predecessor. One could argue that the visuals are good enough for a Bomberman game. While I agree that the visuals are functional enough, more details and effects could have been included to provide a more up-to-date experience. Regardless, the overall performance is smooth even during populated online matches.
The soundtrack fits what would be expected from Bomberman. The tunes constantly change during stages, but they’re too repetitive to the point of being annoying.
SUPER BOMBERMAN R 2 fails to provide a good single player experience with its watered-down story mode. Despite that, much fun can be had with R2’s multiplayer offerings.
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