Super Bomberman R Review (Nintendo Switch)

Super Bomberman R might be the first game I’ve ever reviewed where I feel like the police should probably get involved. This game is a crime and should be avoided at all costs.

First some context, after our Switch was delivered on Friday alongside Zelda I took a trip down to Sainsbury’s on a console-launch-day whim to get some more games. I wanted something multiplayer so I decided on 1-2 Switch and Super Bomberman R. 1-2 Switch is already overpriced at £34.99 (it should have been included with the console) but Super Bomberman R was £44.99. When I saw that price tag something strange happened in my brain, I came to the conclusion that somehow price and quality were linked. I thought the single-player campaign must be substantial to warrant that price tag. I thought that the online and local multiplayer must be at the very least a competent ‘best-of’ from the many iterations in the series. I was very very wrong.

Launching into local multiplayer with my wife, we were immediately struck with the distinct lack of options. You choose the basics like the number of lives etc, then you choose an arena (from a selection that looks poorer than the SNES version), then your bomberperson. The bomberpeople are all given strange superficial characters so there’s the noble white one (I’m sure someone could write an angry Tumblr post about that), the arrogant black one, the violent red one, the sleepy blue one etc. They have no real personality beyond their single trait and this is demonstrated by their singular facial expression and annoying voice clips before and after matches.

Launching into our first game, it was hard to understand how this game came to be. Visually it looks about on par with the N64 version, albeit at a higher resolution (what looked to my amateur eye like 720p) but the background behind the maps is like a horrible stretched 2D image and the arena, although built out of 3d polygonal blocks, is made up of stretched and repeated textures. Imagine what a Bomberman game would look like if an 11 year old learning to code decided to make an Android port for phones from 2013. It looks worse than that.

Once the game began we realised the ugliness is more than skin deep. The framerate is atrocious, running at an aspirational 30fps that it usually falls well short of during important moments (like when bombs are going off). This really does have a significant impact on gameplay and is what makes this version impossible to recommend over its predecessors. This isn’t just the worst Switch game, it’s the worst Bomberman game I’ve ever played.

In desperation I turned to the online multiplayer, thinking somehow local play was just broken, but the online multiplayer is the same, with lag on top of it. Every time you finish a game you are kicked back into matchmaking (no finding a lobby to stay with all evening) and the only kind of progression you get is based on gaining points in a linear fashion to move you up through the leagues. You start in Baby League B and if you win a game, you get some points towards moving up. If you lose, you don’t lose any points, you just get nothing.

The single player campaign is a similar disappointment. Wrapped in an offensively terrible Saturday morning cartoon wrapper with poorly animated cutscenes, the game is split into six sets of levels (we assume, we only completed the first set) followed by two boss fights. The levels themselves take place in barely-modified arenas and you are tasked with either killing all of the enemies or pressing a number of switches. There’s no AI to speak of, the enemies just move in a semi-predictable fashion, with the randomness being present just to make sure this game doesn’t have any value as a puzzler. Instead you just do the same thing over and over, putting bombs down to trap enemies, until you’ve killed them all. Do that a handful of times and you get to fight the first boss, an evil bomberman who has some kind of special power. The first one has magnet bombs that technically are attracted to you, but you barely even notice because your own bombs stop them. This mechanic didn’t change the fight at all, and instead it was just a matter of playing until the AI got itself stuck near one of your bombs (or one of its own). After that there was an almost-interesting boss fight in an open arena against a giant spider robot. Even though the arena was open your bombs still fired off in a grid, so you had to place bombs to take out its legs while avoiding getting killed yourself.

If you do get killed in the campaign, you simply restart the level, until you are out of lives. If you run out of lives you can continue with a new set of lives if you spend 300 of whatever the currency you get is. This currency can also be spent on cosmetic items (things to go on your head that all look like they were lifted from a poundshop Nintendogs catalogue) and is earned painfully slowly through online multiplayer matches. Hopefully you’ve immediately realised the problem that should have occurred to Konami. If say, a child, wants to progress through the campaign and dies a lot (perfectly reasonably thanks to the input lag caused by the unstable framerate), they can’t continue until they grind out enough credits through the online multiplayer. The multiplayer that is terrible and will be locked behind a paywall for Nintendo’s online service in Autumn. It’s like they tried to ruin this game.

This is without a doubt the worst game I have ever reviewed. It’s a complete scam and represents all of the worst things about the gaming industry. It’s a cash in to take advantage of nostalgia and the weak launch lineup priced far too aggressively with zero creative ideas or technical prowess. This game is an abomination and Konami should feel bad.

 

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The Wonders of Werewolves Within on PSVR

Werewolves within is an adaptation of a board-game where you sit around a campfire with seven other people and lie to them. It’s also the best game currently in VR.

 

Taking the general structure from games like ‘One Night Ultimate Werewolf’, Town of Salem, and Mafia (the card game, not the open world video game), Werewolves Within has a devastatingly simple premise. Eight of you are all given roles in secret, each with their own (individually useless) power, and you have a few minutes to work out who is lying and actually a werewolf.

There’s no visual signs to look for, no way of knowing for sure who you can trust, just a random selection of weak powers and your own powers of deduction, and a lot of name-calling and the occasional spot of begging.

Balance is key in any multiplayer game and although there’s a random element that can stack the odds for or against team werewolf, there’s very rarely a game where you can be absolutely sure you’ve made the right choices. The Saint, for example, does get to know exactly who one of the werewolves is, but if the werewolves all vote for him, the werewolves win regardless of whether they die or not. This leads to a precarious game where you try and push the rest of the group in the right direction, while keep your true identity a secret. It forces you to lie, which makes you suspicious, which might make the village inadvertently turn on their only saviour. Houndsmen are powerful as they can whisper with the players either side of them and discover their true roles, but the werewolves have the exact same power, so you can never be sure if a houndsman is really who they say they are.

Every game starts with the group going round in a circle announcing their roles and inevitably some people will claim the same role. What do you do if someone claims your role? They could be a werewolf, so you should get everyone to vote for them. They could be a Turncloak, who is working with the werewolves but wins if they die instead of the werewolves. They could be a deviant, who wins if they get killed. They could be the saint! It’s an incredibly complex psychological game that runs lightning fast thanks to the simple rules and fantastic community.

Players quickly learned to adopt certain unenforced rules, like everyone praying at the start to hide who the real saint is (they have to pray to find out who the werewolf is). While the community is small (you’ll often run into the same players night after night), that leads to friendships and vendettas. I play nearly every night and I know who’s a good liar, who’s a lot of fun, and who to avoid.

Thankfully the number of players you want to avoid is incredibly low, as players can be kicked at any time. People who are racist, homophobic, or just can’t play by the rules get kicked mercilessly, leaving lobbies full of like-minded people to play with.

In terms of the actual VR, it’s used in a subtle but effective way creating an effect you couldn’t really get any other way. Only your head is tracked, and whenever you talk your mouth moves and your character gestures. It’s surprisingly convincing so it’s easy to tell who is speaking and who people are looking at. You can also use a set of emotes if you’d like to emphasise a point or hint at someone. All of the games take place in various different environments around a small town, and while they become quite repetitive, they’re appropriately atmospheric and well designed.

If you’ve got a PSVR, Oculus Rift, or HTC Vive, you owe it to yourself to try this game. It’s entirely a seated experience, the VR will never make you the slightest bit nauseous, and the gameplay is almost entirely unique to videogames (Town of Salem is a little similar). Check out the video at the top of the page if you’d like to see a game, then come and join us to hunt some Werewolves!

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Games reviews and opinions from real people with limited time and limited money