Title: Super Bomberman R 2
Release Date: September 13, 2023
Reviewed On: PS5
The joys that the Bomberman series has brought to my life are irreplaceable. Its simplistic design kept me coming back for more each time, but Konami couldn’t understand one simple rule: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Sadly, the idea that every gamer has ADHD has infiltrated the series, and it’s found in every mode within Super Bomberman R 2. In retrospect, there are so many strange decisions made here that I can’t tell you who their target audience is. That said, when you manage to squint your eyes and are able to play through a nice round of Battle 64, this manages to feel like a modern Bomberman experience, but the other modes and the story campaign will quickly remind you this is something completely different.
From the main menu, Super Bomberman R 2 urges players to first play the Story campaign before jumping into the online modes, so that’s what I did. Okay, I understand this series is kind of directed toward children, but I don’t understand why the Story cutscenes have to be more chaotic than a Fredinator cartoon. Bomberman and his brothers and sisters set out to save these aliens called Ellons. However, each sibling leans heavily into their personality to deliver some of the loudest haphazard interactions I’ve seen in a story. I’m sure they’d make a child laugh, but I just didn’t see the point of it. I found myself hating Yellow with a passion, and I’d skip the cutscene the moment he showed up, so I honestly don’t know what happens in the story.
Anyway, you land on a planet and make your way through sections that resemble large Bomberman-style levels. You can break bricks, which there are a lot of, to find hidden money that is used to level up. This is the first big problem. You see, the money is a random drop, so prepare to blow up every block as you look for money to level up, which makes you faster, improves explosions, and gives you abilities such as kick and punch. Honestly, I wish the levels were tied to EXP earned from taking down enemies because there are fewer of them, but no, I’m here wasting time blowing up blocks. Now, you don’t have to do this, but the levels do get harder in the later sections, so you should level up a few times before moving on.
Now, the goal is to rescue the Ellons, who are just chilling in blocks, but I couldn’t help but be distracted by the environement and how phallic everything looks. Seriously, is it just me? I’m not sure. Maybe my mind was just wondering because I had no idea what was going on. Okay, so you save Ellons, which are needed to unlock doors and power fast travel points, and that’s it. You’ll fight some large enemies, but the game loop is largely the same throughout these portions of the campaign.
However, then I encountered the tower defense portion of gameplay, which is when I realized this game wasn’t for me. I despised these moments of the campaign, and I had no idea what I was doing or how I was supposed to stop the extremely fast enemies. So each round, I just ran around, and eventually, I won. I don’t know what I did, maybe I’m just that good of a gamer, but I honestly had no idea what I was doing during these portions.
Okay, let’s move away from the campaign and talk about the co-op. There’s a good amount of local and online co-op modes to play through, but if you played Super Bomberman R Online, you might feel like you’re playing the same game. The only new mode is Castle, where you need to protect treasure or grab keys. It’s fun, I guess, but if you aren’t playing with real players in this mode, the bots make some really strange choices. So, I feel like this mode is more fun with a group of friends.
The online mode is strange because you can’t actually choose which mode you want to play. It cycles through the four available modes, but it seems like everyone is just waiting on Standard and Battle 64, which resemble what Bomberman is. The other modes try to push the series to places that it’s not, and for the most part, fans have already played everything this package has to offer, minus the strange story campaign and Castle Mode. Thankfully, there is crossplay for the online modes, which meant that I was never looking for a match for too long.
It feels like the essence of Bomberman has been removed from Super Bomberman R 2. When I look at games such as Puyo Puyo Tetris 2, which happens to be two extremely repetitive games, the essence of what makes those titles enjoyable is found in every mode and even in the story. Super Bomberman R 2 comes across as a shell of its former self when you look at what’s been added. Castle Mode just doesn’t have the structure to really carry this experience and present it as something “new.”
I would love to see some type of innovation within the series, but the best moments I had while playing happened during local co-op and playing 16-player matches with a few friends. Currently, the game allows up to 8 players, with an additional 8 bots available to add to the match. It’s as chaotic as you’d imagine, and I wish there were a few more options when it comes to customizing the field, but I was beginning to have fun. Sadly, I wasn’t attached to any of the new modes and found the best moments of gameplay, doing my best to replicate classic Bomberman within the options of this new game.
Super Bomberman R 2 doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from its predecessor or the series. There’s just nothing really here to justify a purchase with a campaign consisting of only three unimaginative levels, very limited power-ups, and a strange implication of online modes. The charm is still present when playing classic modes, but nothing that has been added moves the series in any significant direction.
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