When the Nintendo Switch launched back in 2017, it was immediately clear that thing was special. Most folks would obviously point to Breath of the Wild as evidence, but for me the star of the show was something totally different. Super Bomberman R was a shocker, and not just because it was the first new Bomberman joint in years. Konami was in an… interesting spot to say the least, and this game was a striking oddity. It helps that it was awesome, too.
Now, in 2023, Bomberman has been a little more present than before! There’s merch on Fangamer! There’s an Apple Arcade game! There’s… well, there was a free to play, online version of R. Whatever happened, that game fizzled out of existence. But out of its ashes, Super Bomberman R 2 has risen. It doubles down on a lot of what made the first game notable, and tries a few new things as well. The result is a Bomberman-ass Bomberman game, albeit yet another game that shows the Switch’s age in many ways.
I still like Konami
The first game’s wacky tone is once again front and center here, with the kooky voice-acting and silly storyline driving the single-player campaign. The campaign itself is very different from the traditional vibes of the first game. Here, we’re looking at a sort of open world layout in which Bomberman is searching for a gaggle of cute, little alien critters hidden throughout several maze-like screens. It’s kind of boring and super framey on Switch, but it’s been a long time since we’ve seen Bomberman try something new. So while it’s important to give credit when it’s due, I could never touch this mode and not miss a thing.
Of course, a new Super Bomberman is all about the multiplayer. And in Super Bomberman R 2, the multiplayer offerings are quite substantial, especially compared to the previous game. From some strange and exciting new game modes to a metric buttload of unlockable content, Bomberman fans have a lot to chow down on here. And if you’re into other Konami properties from the company’s long IP history, you’re in for several treats.
In the original Super Bomberman R, several post-launch character cameos brought some Konami-flavored novelty to the mix. Sadly, WWE’s Xavier Woods seems to be tragically absent this time. The dial on Konami Kontent has been smashed all the way up, with several unlockable characters, music tracks and other goodies from series like Castlevania and Metal Gear. And for the true sickos, there’s even stuff from Tokimeki Memorial and Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom. Some of this cameo goodness technically debuted in Super Bomberman R Online, but that game no longer exists. Richter Belmont Bomber is brand new to me, and that’s all I care about, frankly.
It can’t be understated how much fun all the Konami fluff is. You can dress Old Snake up like Richter Belmont, then play a Battle Royale match set to a sugary sweet Contra music arrangement. Princess Tomato of all characters is in here! For all the angry discourse surrounding Konami these days, there’s a level of reverence here for the classics that feels above and beyond simple pandering. You can feel the love, and Bomberman feels like the perfect vehicle for those vibes. It's kind of ironic since Bomberman isn't a Konami native, but still.
New modes, same explosives
Also returning from the dead F2P title is the Battle 64 mode, and thank goodness we didn’t lose this when R Online went under. A variation of everyone’s favorite Battle Royale game type, Battle 64 is an excellent Bomberman-flavored adaptation. Players start in groups of four in standard Bomberman multiplayer rooms, but once enough time passes, choice rooms are eliminated. Groups are forced to flee and find safe rooms, and the number of players crammed into one space can shoot way up. It’s violent, stressful, super fast, and fits the Bomberman multiplayer suite perfectly.
The new mode, that’s totally, fully new, is so wild it’s hard to get a solid first impression on. Castle is a game type introduced in the single player campaign, but given a ton of its own space in the online section. It’s an asymmetrical, multiplayer challenge that’s a combination of classic Bomberman, tower defense, and a level of unhinged chaos even a guy who blows crap up for a living hasn’t seen before. This mode knows it’s tremendously wacky, and uses that to its advantage by pitching a big group of players against one defender, simultaneously making the big group race for individual points. Add in special abilities from unlockable characters and bizarre powerups for the solo player, and you have a recipe for madness. Adorable madness.
Ultimately, Super Bomberman R 2 is a lot like the many Bomberman games before it. If you’re looking for more content volume, more stuff to do besides make your way through the various unlockables, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Ever since the Super Nintendo days, Super Bomberman has been about running around an enclosed arena, blowing up bricks, collecting powerups, and dancing around explosions with your friends. There’s an endless amount of Bomberman action here, with a rudimentary season system on top for leaderboard chasing. That’s about it. But that’s all you need.
For a while there, things weren’t looking so great for Bomberman, one of the most underappreciated gaming mascots out there. But it feels like the weird, little guy’s alive and kicking now, with two retail games within a few years of each other and more. Super Bomberman R 2 isn’t the ultimate Bomberman experience, but it’s a cute, wholesome package of old school, multiplayer videogame glee. Which is weird to say about a game with Pyramid Head in it.
Super Bomberman R 2 is available now for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X|S and PC. A code for the Nintendo Switch version was provided by the publisher for this review.
Super Bomberman R 2
- Lots of unlockable characters and Konami fanservice
- Lots of different ways to play multiplayer, local and online
- Compelling new game modes
- If you played Super Bomberman R Online, a lot of the new stuff isn't new
- Performance issues on Switch
- Story mode is unique but not as interesting