“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”
- Oscar Wilde
Countless comparisons will no doubt be made between Brawlout and the Super Smash Bros. series, especially now that the game has launched on the Nintendo Switch. There’s no denying that Brawlout is influenced by Nintendo’s fighting franchise, even more than every other Smash clone released over the years, but give credit to Angry Mob Games for at least trying to give the game its own identity. Brawlout has plenty to offer players itching for a new brawler and there’s a lot to like about the game beginning with its unique roster which features eight characters, six of which are original to Brawlout, including Olaf Tyson, a bipedal walrus who carries around a penguin on his back; Chief Feathers a birdman with multiple midair jumps and exceptional range to his attacks; Paco the toad whose fighting style mixes wrestling and boxing; and Volt, a deadly Hedgehog often described as a cross between Pikachu, Sonic, and Blanka from Street Fighter. While six original fighters may not seem like a lot of characters to choose from, Brawlout also features guest stars from other hit indie games including Juan from Guacamelee and The Drifter from Hyper Light Drifter. Furthermore, there are plans to release one more indie game superstar in January and another character possibly another in March (assuming contract negotiations pan out). And if Brawlout does become a commercial success, chances are we will see more of our favourite indie characters making their way over to the game in the near future.
Brawlout is challenging, surprising and raucous fun.
Putting the roster aside, Brawlout focuses heavily on aggressive mechanics, fast reflexes, and speedy aerobatics by doing away with blocking, shields and the standard grab. Your aim is to weaken your opponents, lower their resistance and eventually knock them off the platform. Each character has their own unique playstyle, catering to specific character archetypes seen in other fighters and the game features advanced techniques like air dodging, wave dashes, directional influence, teching and ledge grabs. To further complicate the proceedings, players each have a Rage Meter which fuels powerful special attacks as they take more damage. This may seem like an odd choice for a fighting game but it adds an extra layer of strategy, all while lending itself a more balanced round of fighting for newbies. In other words, Brawlout works as a simple party game that anyone can easily pick up and enjoy and also as a competitive fighting game for those looking to hone their skills. It’s a game that is easy to learn but difficult to master, and something that should appeal to both casual players and competitive gamers alike.
Provided you are not playing online, you shouldn’t encounter any major performance issues aside from the occasional glitch, which I was told should be fixed with the next patch. However, online multiplayer can be extremely frustrating especially if a user has a poor internet connection. Of course, everyone’s online experience with vary but unfortunately, I’ve had nothing but bad luck. And while I don’t normally care to play online with strangers, it is hugely disappointing since the online mode is vital if you want to progress faster. And that is the biggest problem with this game. Most of the stages and bonus content are all locked behind an in-game currency only earned by playing and completing objectives. While there are eight combatants unlocked from the outset, only three of Brawlout’s twelve arenas are available from the start. That’s incredibly disappointing since the pace to earn currency offline is awfully slow and as mentioned above, playing online is problematic. As someone who doesn’t care for the competitive online scene, it would have been much appreciated to have all the characters and arenas unlocked from the outset so I can play with my family and friends without worrying about a lagging internet connection.
Brawlout may be missing the item-inspired mayhem of the Super Smash series, not to mention the all-star lineup, but given that we are yet to see Nintendo’s giant franchise make an appearance on the Switch, Brawlout should keep us entertained while we patiently wait. In all honesty, it’s a welcome addition to the already enormous library of indie titles on the Switch and a fun party game; I just wish it wasn’t bogged down by a lack of single-player material and a heavy reliance on online play. Hopefully, Angry Mob Games will fix some of these issues moving forward and add even more characters to the roster. There’s plenty of potential here, and Brawlout could become a huge hit provided the developers play their cards right. As it stands, it is challenging, surprising and raucous fun.
– Ricky D