Designing your own Castle and then bombing it to smithereens.
At a private preview event hosted by Konami, I had the opportunity to check out the multiplayer Battle Modes and Stage Editor coming to Super Bomberman R 2, a sequel to 2017’s Super Bomberman R. As one of the longest running franchises in video games, Bomberman holds a special place in my heart, and there’s only a handful of entries I’ve never had a chance to play. Do the changes in this follow-up make it stand out among its many historical releases?
Bomberman as a series has never strayed too far from its tried-and-true formula, and the same goes for Super Bomberman R 2. While I can’t speak to the Story Mode in much detail, we were told that the brand new Castle Mode would feature prominently in it, in addition to the types of boss battles seen in Super Bomberman R. I did run through a few Castle matches during the event and found it to be fairly promising.
Alongside the returning multiplayer options–Standard, Grand Prix, and Battle 64–Castle Mode is reminiscent of Capture the Flag or Fort Knox. Up to eight players are divided into two teams: one defends three treasure chests (this number is adjustable), and the other must retrieve keys scattered about to then seek out and unlock all the chests. To keep things balanced, the defending team would generally consist of a smaller number of members (one or two, maybe three), while the team on offense would have the greater numbers, and for good reason.
The chest protectors are imbued with one of three special abilities: a sword slash, a laser shot, or a defensive shield. Collecting power-ups around the map charges up these abilities, which incentivizes both sides to scour the map for pick-ups. As well, little elemental beings called Ellons spawn on the map to further torment the key-seekers, and if that wasn’t enough, the treasure chest locations are generally well fortified with cannons, conveyor belts, and other obstacles and dangers. Unlocking all the chests is by no means an easy task, but there’s an odd mechanic at play for the offensive team. Anyone who successfully unlocks a chest is removed from the match, which is something I truly hope ends up being optional as having to spectate while your teammates play on–rather than continuing to work with them–is a bit of a drag.
I also messed around with the Stage Editor feature, which seems to pair quite well with the Castle Mode. While it will be fun to design your own levels for standard Bomberman multiplayer, coming up with particularly devilish set-ups for defending the treasure chests seems to be the ultimate objective of this creative addition to the package. Personally, I’m hoping we see an expanded assortment of stages for Battle 64, especially given the shutting down of free-to-play Super Bomberman R Online. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the editing tools are fairly intuitive, even if there wasn’t an overabundance of objects and tiles to use in the process, at least at the preview event.
Supposing that you already enjoy Bomberman gameplay and want the newest and latest that the series has to offer, you’ll probably dig what Konami has done here. The multiplayer upgrades that come with Super Bomberman R 2 are definitely intriguing, and even though it can be sometimes seen as an afterthought, Story Mode’s use of the Castle variation has me genuinely curious. I also found the new music in this sequel to be an upbeat and energetic upgrade over that of the original. Super Bomberman R 2 releases physically on September 12 and digitally on September 13, so we don’t have long to wait before this lit fuse goes kaboom.