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‘Super Bomberman R’ Requires Friends to Fully Appreciate

It’s the best local multiplayer game of the Switch’s launch line-up—but solo players can steer clear.

The Nintendo Switch's launch was, rightly, dominated by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Game of the year? We'll see. But as the days become weeks, and the weeks months, players are going to find their way through Hyrule, and defeat Calamity Ganon. So, what next?

1-2-Switch has been the poster child for the console's getting-pals-around potential, the mini-game collection a better-than-expected showcase of the system's singular interfaces, foremost the detachable Joy-Cons and their HD Rumble function. But for more classically arcade-style multiplayer fun, there's also Super Bomberman R, Konami's latest entry in the long-running blow 'em up series, previously published under the Hudson Soft banner.

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And, like 1-2-Switch, R really requires you to get friends over, huddled around the television, to make the most of. Its solo campaign mode is disappointing, a combination of poor contrast between environmental assets and peculiar isometric perspective making accurate bomb placement more of a challenge than it ever should be.

Super Bomberman R screenshots courtesy of Nintendo.

There are levels with magnets; levels that work on multiple, um, levels; and levels with switches. Bosses show up, irritate, and are ultimately dispatched using time-honored trap-'em methods. There's innovation with larger enemies and moving platforms and springs in the late game, but really: You're not buying this for the campaign. And if you have, my condolences, as you're going to need a bigger couch.

Online multiplayer? Super Bomberman R's got it, but in my experience it's been just that little bit laggy, small input delays making fights feel just the slightest bit unfair—even if every competitor is having the same problems. Once that's sorted, I'll reconnect, but right now I'm steering clear. (At least it looks like Konami is aware of the problem.)

Which leaves the classic local mode, harking back to the glory days of Super Bomberman on the Super Nintendo, the first game to use the 16-bit console's pioneering Super Multitap, allowing four players to get super explosive, simultaneously. Played locally and online, multiplayer ditches the isometric angle for a traditional top-down view, and the relief is remarkable. I'm all for progress, of course; but the same-sofa multiplayer side of this series was perfected in 1993. If it ain't broke, and all that.

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There are maps that feature hazards and handicaps like those seen in the campaign; and pre-game settings can be adjusted to allow or remove environmental elements, "revenge carts" (which see expelled players tossing bombs in from the sidelines), and change the best-of-whatever win conditions. Personally, the purest fun's been had just stripping everything out and enjoying the Bomberman basics, established pick-ups like increased blast distance and being able to boot the deadly balls across the map providing the sole advantages.

I've only managed one-on-one sessions so far—if someone wants to come by with another couple of Joy-Cons, so we can go all-four-in, please do (the game supports up to eight Joy-Cons, locally)—but even reduced to a two-player experience, Super Bomberman R's eminently replayable appeal is obvious, just as it was two decades plus ago. Post-pub, you'll be playing this one a lot longer than 1-2-Switch—at least until Overcooked makes the leap to Switch later in 2017.

The classics don't go out of style, then—but sometimes they have a hard time adjusting to change, as R's solo mode so unimpressively illustrates. Stick to the elemental stuff and you won't go wrong.

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