The original Super Bomberman R was a good enough game. It wasn’t particularly great, and certainly nowhere near the heyday of the franchise, but it was a good enough game that was an enjoyable enough revival of the classic IP. Super Bomberman R 2… is more of that. There’s a lot more here, with some great new multiplayer modes, and an admirably misguided attempt at a story mode, all of which coalesces to deliver another good, not great, Bomberman game.
"The goal is simple – be the last person standing at the end of the time allotment."
The core premise of Super Bomberman R 2 remains the same as always – it’s an arcade multiplayer game, built around the concept of four players on a map where everything on the map (including the other players, but except the outer borders) is destructive by bombs that explode in very set and predictable patterns. The goal is simple – be the last person standing at the end of the time allotment. It’s a simple premise that leads to a lot of chaos, and its timelessness means it doesn’t need much more in the way of iteration. You just need to execute on it well, and Super Bomberman R2 delivers on that very well, with some well designed maps and fun chaos that helps this make a convincing case as a potential mainstay of multiple parties in the future.
Which is not to say that Super Bomberman R 2 doesn’t try to iterate on the core premise regardless. There are multiple new modes on offer here, with one of the more successful attempts at tweaking the Bomberman formula being Battle 64, which is a 64-player battle Royale that, rather than throwing 64 players on to the same map, smartly breaks it down into a sequence of quickfire mini-matches that you have to keep winning to progress. This keeps things dynamic and emphasizes the fun party-game style nature of the core gameplay, without overwhelming it with the chaos that having all players on the same map would inevitably lead to.
"Super Bomberman R 2 has some well designed maps and fun chaos that helps this make a convincing case as a potential mainstay of multiple parties in the future."
The other big new mode (which also sees some mileage in the story mode, which we will get to in a minute) is the Castle mode, which… is a decidedly less successful attempt at mixing things up. The Castle Mode is an asynchronous mode in which one player is the king, who has to guard the objectives, while all other players have to rush the “castle” and get to the objectives. This one never quite comes together; the King gets to utilize all sorts of gimmicks and machines on the map to keep the objectives he has to guard safe, and the other players need to make sure all other objectives are secured to win – if even one is not, then the King wins. I’m sure there will be people who will enjoy this mode for what it is, but for me, it takes away from the purity of the core design, and the more successful iterations on it within the same game such as Battle 64.
Then there is the Story Mode; yes there is a Story Mode, and it is… not the best. It wisely keeps a Saturday Morning cartoon vibe and tone (no Bomberman Act Zero shenanigans here, don’t worry), but the writing isn’t very good (and feels tedious more than anything), and the voice acting is worse, making it not very enjoyable unless you are a younger player. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all; however, there are several other games intended for younger players that still manage to be enjoyably written for many adult players, so it is worth noting, if nothing else.
The actual story is completely forgettable (something about a Black Moon that threatens to destroy everything?) and is more an excuse for contiguous exploration based levels using Bomberman’s gameplay. There are mostly fun, and an easy enough way to come to grips with how the mechanics work if nothing else, involving you going around levels, avoiding or killing enemies, solving completely simple puzzles, and rescuing these blue wispy creatures that you need to open up the way forward. After a while of this, you storm an enemy castle (or the enemy storms your camp), and you have to do a Castle battle.
"Super Bomberman R 2 is a fun offering that improves upon its predecessor in some obvious ways, and tries to execute on the core formula faithfully and well. It also tries to expand upon that core offering in many ways. Many of these experiments do not play out, but some do, and its attempts at iteration are admirable regardless of the end result."
So the campaign is… fine. However, it is definitely shallow and thin, and its offering doesn’t stand up as a particularly compelling offering on its own; the gameplay feels repetitive, the puzzles and solutions are shallow, and there is none of the chaos that makes multiplayer Bomberman (or even multiplayer played solo against bots) so much fun.
Multiplayer is where Bomberman has always shone, and Super Bomberman R 2 is at its strongest there too, and well equipped for it. The game comes with local and online matchmaking and multiplayer options on all systems, and best of all, with cross-platform multiplayer enabled by default; meaning you can be assured that you will always find enough of an online population to be able to hump into your mode of choice, and not have to worry about the player base having petered out.
Super Bomberman R 2 is a fun offering that improves upon its predecessor in some obvious ways, and tries to execute on the core formula faithfully and well. It also tries to expand upon that core offering in many ways. Many of these experiments do not play out, but some do, and its attempts at iteration are admirable regardless of the end result. And even when they don’t quite land, it does enough things just well enough to end up as a fun to play Bomberman game that will find a lot of traction at many parties for many fans.
This game was reviewed on PlayStation 5.
A solid offering of the core Bomberman premise, executed well enough; Battle 64 is a legitimately fun spin on the classic premise; cross-platform multiplayer ensures online play should remain populated for a while.
The Castle Mode does not quite stick the landing; the story mode is mind numbingly trite and awful.