The best Bomberman game on Switch
At launch, I picked up three games along with my Switch: Breath of the Wild, Fast Racing RMX, and Super Bomberman R. Breath of the Wild was, of course, amazing. Fast Racing RMX was everything I wanted it to be. But Super Bomberman R was kinda just a visually ugly, vaguely 3D resemblance of a Bomberman game. The only thing memorable about it is that it would have the distinction of being the first Switch game I ever traded in. A little over a year later I find myself playing Burnstar from developer Nerve Software. In many obvious ways Burnstar is a pseudo-Bomberman game. But unlike its officially licensed counterpart, Burnstar evolves the gameplay into something new and interesting.
At the outset you’ll chose from one (or two if playing with a friend) of four characters each with their own special ability. These abilities, such as shields and teleportation, become much more critical on a level by level basis as the game progresses. At its core, Burnstar operates on Bomberman mechanics. You place bombs (or other explosives later in the game) which explode in a cross shape across a set number of tiles. These explosions can then light fires which can spread from object to object. Destroyed objects leave behind stars which must be collected by your character to earn access to the next level. Your bombs and other ammunition are very limited and have to be found across the level. The inherent puzzle, therefore, is how to most effectively use your ammunition to not only earn as many stars as possible, but also gain access to more ammunition to hopefully clear the stage. Navigation between stages is handled by a nicely illustrated map screen, complete with secret paths. Each world culminates with a fun boss fight. These play on Burnstars fire propagation system in that often times the goal is simply to avoid the constantly spreading fire caused by the boss.
As you progress, hazards are added to the levels. At first, these are barely a threat and you have to go out of your way to run into them. Later levels sport more aggressive dangers such as complex arrays of motion activated, mobile buzzsaws that can be quite challenging to avoid. Taking a hit from one of these hazards completely resets the level. With the length and complexity of later levels, this can at times feel a bit too punishing. Accidently stubbing your toe on the way to a stage exit only to be thrown all the way back to the beginning just seemed unnecessary. I’d much rather have damage simply reset your position without affecting level progress, or simply affect your final score. As is, the hazards take away from an otherwise delightfully cerebral puzzle experience.
Burnstar takes the underlying concepts behind the Bomberman franchise and develops them into something much more interesting than the source material. Some balancing issues aside, Burnstar is an engaging puzzle experience whether playing alone or with a friend. For those, like me, who were disappointed by the official Bomberman game on Switch, Burnstar might be just what you’re looking for.