Brawlout, the new fighting game from Angry Mob Games, debuted on the Switch on December 19th, 2017. The game has been heavily compared to Nintendo’s own Super Smash Bros franchise. The comparisons between the two games are very clear. The developers are clearly fans and have mirrored the things they loved about the franchise. The games are not identical though.Brawlout draws inspiration from a few previous fighting games, but creates one that is all their own. The game has several different modes, stages and unlockables. It also has online functionality, so you can play with friends all over the world. So, how did this game stack up? Let’s dive in!
Brawlout is a 2 to 4 player fighting game. Similar to Smash Bros, you fight in multi-layered stages. However, in this game there are no dangers within the environment on the levels. You select from a range of characters (including Guacamelee’s Juan) and battle it out. The default settings for single player mode include a timer and three lives (this is adjustable.) You must defeat your opponent three times and under the time limit. The game also has an arcade mode (similar to early Mortal Kombat games) with three different settings ranging from easy to hard. You take on each of your enemies in sequential order until you defeat the final boss. You can also battle friends or strangers in the game’s online mode. I tried several times to get logged on, but it wouldn’t connect. Also, when you’re waiting to connect online it can disrupt the solo match that you’re engaged in.
The fighting style is somewhat like Super Smash Bros but not an exact replica. You have a damage percentage that goes up with each hit. You can jump and save yourself when knocked off of the edge. You also have a standard attack and a special attack that changes with the direction you press. Where it differs though, is that there is no block, grapple, or throw. The game relies heavily on combos, similar to Street Fighter. The character also has a rage bar that builds and you can unleash a deadly attack. The characters abilities don’t vary too much, but I did enjoy playing around with different characters. You essentially mash your enemy into defeat. They are no items or dangerous levels, so you must rely solely on fighting. Most of the characters don’t have super reliable recovery, so be careful if you get knocked off. Also, if an opponent gets you caught in a combo, then it’s very difficult to get away from them.
In addition to the aforementioned Juan, the game includes 7 other playable characters at first. You can unlock 10 additional characters by completing various modes in the game. To me, the characters look like Skylanders rejects, to put it mildly. Juan stands out like a sore thumb compared to the anamorphic King Apu, Chief Feathers or Paco. Each character has a small back story that is revealed post-game in Arcade mode. The characters have unique sayings and converse before every fight. They each possess different features and abilities which can both help and hinder you. I first played through with Chief Feathers and I found his flying ability to be super helpful with recovery. However, he was a bit weaker than other fights. Once I was caught in a combo it was a lot harder to get away. As I stated previously, the design of the characters was pretty weak. None of them really stood out for me, nor did I care to remember them. When I think of celebrated fighting games (Smash Bros, Tekken, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat) the stories are not the memorable part, it is always the characters. This game severely lacks that. I didn’t expect much storywise; I just felt like the characters could have be more original and more fleshed out. There was not a good power balance between them either.
This game is not booming with content, but the modes are fully fleshed out. I lost several times, so I kept feeling an urge to try again. Although I did find the difficulty in the game was more caused by the actual mechanics of the game rather than the ability of the CPU. It was often difficult to breakaway from an opponent. That made the game very frustrating. The lackluster level design didn’t help either. There are so many simple tweaks that could have been made that would have enhanced the overall experience. Another thing that took away from the overall experience was the lack of compelling music. When engaging in a fighting game, typically the music enhances the overall experience. After playing a few rounds in the arcade mode, I didn’t care to keep playing. There was nothing to keep me compelled to play. I tried out most characters, but a lot of them didn’t interest me at all. There were no levels that I necessarily wanted to come back to either. I didn’t care to unlock everything.
Overall, this game was a bit of a disappointment. It has so much potential to be a great fighting title, but there are so many minor issues that take away from the whole experience. I hope in future updates the developers will enhance the music, level design, and add balance to the characters. If they choose to continue the series the character design and roster will need an extreme makeover. The online experience, if fixed, could be an asset to the game. This game is obviously a love letter to the Super Smash Bros franchise, but it’s a bit misguided. It makes me wonder if the developers ran out of time or resources to finish their complete vision. I do see the potential in this game, but it just made me want to play something different.
- The concept
- The throwback arcade mode
- Appearance by Juan
- Broken online
- Lazy level design
- Boring characters
- Unbalance fighters
SOUP VERDICT: There’s more delicious and heartier bowls out there to enjoy, but maybe I’ll try if they change the recipe.