Initial Release: 19 December 2017
Aside from some of the key downfalls of Brawlout, it is still a whimsical, easy title to pick up and play on the go or with friends, and it definitely feels at home on the Switch
Since the dawn of the Nintendo Switch, eager fans have waited on baited breath for an announcement regarding Super Smash Brothers’ arrival on the console – will we get a new title or a WiiU port? Seemingly, the answer for now at least is neither. Enter into the proverbial wrestling ground Brawlout, the indie platform fighting title released earlier this year for the PC by Angry Mob Games which has now arrived onto the Nintendo Switch eShop.
Pitting a variety of originally designed anthropomorphic animals (as well as some guest-stars from indie titles) against one another, Brawlout sets itself up as a contender against Nintendo’s own Super Smash Bros series – but does it match up?
The first impression of the game naturally comes from the characters, the design and the basic information communicated to the player. The cartoonish art style and intriguing character design definitely give Brawlout a lot of charm with the luchador frog Paco seemingly acting as the mascot for the title. Further standout designs from the initially playable characters include the icy duo Olaf Tyson and the mysterious Drifter, but otherwise, there’s not an awful lot of intriguing or dynamic originals. King Apu is a just decked out monkey, Seph’ira looks like a combination of Mew and Cleopatra, and Volt is a blue hedgehog… in a market where so much variety exists with design features, coming out with an original line-up is difficult, so if attempted needs to be done with care and consideration. The levels were equally uninspired, doing little to create a real sense of the world these characters exist in, which is unfortunate considering that could be a key asset for creating intrigue and character investment.
What does salvage some intrigue for a few of the characters is their Lore, which can be easily accessed from the main menu, and definitely adds something a bit more personal to the fights and dialogue. Another notable feature (or lack there-of) is microtransactions, in that there are none – all unlockable content, skins and characters must be earned as opposed to bought, which is a breath of fresh air in this consumerist market.
It comes as a bit of a surprise how difficult some of the easy tier battles can be in the Arcade mode – the first round left me reeling and losing four times, and whilst I’m no expert in the genre I’m definitely not a rookie. The next three whizzed by with little-to-no difficulty, and then once again I got in a rut in another fight. It seemed quite universal from fighter to fighter – when playing with a few different characters, Juan from 2013’s Guacamelee! seemed unbeatable, and Paco was also superbly overpowered. Not to mention the final round which introduces a 3v1 battle, at which point all tactics are abandoned and it feels like a battle to run away and mash buttons as hard as you can… if you have carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis, this may be one to skip over.
After a few plays of the easy tier, I moved onto the medium tier, and oh boy was there a surprise in store. Now fighting against two AI’s each round, the leap in difficulty was astounding. Part and parcel of why this game is tricky to master is down to speed. Some battles seem overpowered and heavily weighted against you because the AI is just too darn fast! Again, this seemed to be where Juan was nigh on unbeatable for the first few tries – his ability to turn into a chicken (don’t ask) and slam you off the stage was as infuriating as it was confusing, as it seems unpredictable and unprecedented compared to the other characters’ special moves. On the flipside, it felt as though some wins weren’t down to skill, but slower AI builds where they would inexplicably follow your sprite to their death à la Thelma and Louise.
Aside from some of the key downfalls of Brawlout, it is still a whimsical, easy title to pick up and play on the go or with friends, and it definitely feels at home on the Switch – perhaps more so than on the PC. The music is charming, and I’m sure that there are plenty of players who would find themselves immersed in the lore and invested in different characters – unfortunately, it seems as though they may be in the minority. Despite this, at £17.99 and as a temporary stand-in for SSB, it’s a worthwhile title for fans of the genre to invest in, especially with the holiday season in full swing.
Verdict: 6.5 out of 10
Product provided by Angry Mob Games