Developer: Angry Mob Games
Publisher: Angry Mob Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Fighting, Party, Action & Arcade
Release Date: 19th of December, 2017 (Worldwide)
The first rule of Fight Club, is you don’t talk about Fight Club, but the first rule of Brawlout, is to absolutely talk about it from sun up to sun down!
Previously released on PC, for Steam earlier this year back in April, developed by Angry Mob Games, Brawlout for all intents and purposes is an indie game that looks and plays a lot like a Smash Bros. game and makes its console release debut on none other than the Nintendo Switch! There are plans to bring it to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2018, but that is neither here nor now, as now is the time to talk all about the Switch version of a spectacular platform fighter!
As a console that can be played at home, on the go, or online, Brawlout actually makes for a perfect fit on Switch. It runs at 60fps at 1080p when docked and at 60fps at 720p when not docked, but it’s not a perfect 60fps as Brawlout is no stranger to frame-rate drops and stutters. One minute you can be totally dominating as Chief Feathers, throwing your fiery bombs at whoever you’re brawling against, but then the next second, the game stutters and skips a beat and you’re the one who’s been knocked off the edge, whilst the guy, wolf, or frog you were bombarding, is standing pretty on solid ground.
I would like to say these skipping instances aren’t that common, but the longer you play Brawlout, the more of them you will come across. The only consolation is most are very minor, with the worst ones happening the least often, but whether you’re playing in Handheld or TV mode, the issue is present in both, so there’s really no escaping it. Now, I hope you’re reading for some good news, because the frame-rate negative, is the only real valid negative Brawlout has, as everything is that can be viewed wrong with it, is simply a matter of perspective.
Now, on the subject of presentation, aside from being packaged as an indie Smash clone, with a very similar approach with regards to having a mixed roster of characters of different skillsets and platform arenas to do battle on, Brawlout is a game made up of interestingly designed and well-rounded characters, bright colours and menus that are easy on the eye, despite their big and bulky nature. (The soundtrack isn’t bad either.)
In terms of the actual action and characters, as they are the biggest part of Brawlout, there are of course original characters, but there’s also cameo appearances that consists of the Drifter from Hyperlight Drifter and Juan from Drinkbox Studios’ Guacamelee! I’m not particularly fond of Juan as his particular fighting style requires a little more time than I was willing to put into him, but the Drifter is definitely worth checking out thanks to his sick sword skills and blaster play. Only, while there are 8 fighters available from the start, with three alternate skin colours, there are 10 unlockable characters that are actually variants of the game’s original 6 fighters, but also have alternate skin colours to unlock, if you’re willing to rack up the necessary coin. (More on this a little later.)
With regards to the fighting itself, it is a blend of fast-paced action for competitive gamers to sink their teeth into, but it’s also slow enough for players to see what’s going on, as its happening and make the necessary counters and dodges (L and R buttons,) whilst at the same time keeping it fun and friendly. For the record though, this doesn’t mean Brawlout can’t be tough and incredibly difficult as the CPU on difficulty level 9 can be a nightmare, but Brawlout is a game you can tailor make to suit yourself so if fun is what you’re after, fun you will get, but Brawlout does possess a challenging side to it for the gamers requiring a challenge.
As for the actual moves, like with Smash, they are a combination of ground, aerial and charged, as the battles can be fought anywhere, at any time, on any of the game’s, with another 9 that can be unlocked. As for how to pull off each move, the B button is generally is for your charged attacks and harder hitting ones, with A being quicker attacks, but depending on which direction you’re holding the joystick, determines exactly particular move you end up using. Now, as well as a damage meter, that starts on O% and goes up, with the higher the number resulting in the further you’ll fly until you eventually die, there is also a rage meter. When the Rage Meter is filled and both the ZR and ZL buttons are pressed in unison, then that’s when you can really release hell on all those you’re playing against and really deal some hard-hitting damage! And if you’re curious as to what kind of battles you can do when playing either the local or online multiplayer with a friend there is Stock (5 lives is the maximum,) Timed and Team.
Now, while the fights are interesting, and the biggest part of Brawlout, when the battles are other, how you performed, the difficulty level of the CPU you faced and other parameters are then judged and you are awarded both EXP points and coins. You see, whilst Brawlout is a fighting game, your fighters can level up and by levelling up you can earn things like more coins, gems that can be used to by special piñatas from the game’s store that unlocks news fighters and even stages (Level 5.) Only, new fighters and stages aren’t the only thing you can unlock and purchase, as the coins and gems you can earn from levelling up, fighting and even completing daily objectives challenges, can also be used to purchase piñatas that offer new avatars for yourself, new skins and even K.O. Effects so if you want to go out with a different kind of bang, you can, if you have another one. Incidentally though, because gems are the harder currency to get, they’re used to buy the piñatas that can unlock new characters, but depending on how much of a completionist you are, if you meet the requirements of all the daily objectives whenever you can, you can be rewarded shards belonging to the characters you don’t have and if you get them all, they can be yours without ever needing to spend a single gem, but that is the long way of going about it.
Rewards and new content aside, if you wish not to concern yourself with all that, as far as actual content goes, Online battles consist of matches between friends and 1v1, there’s local multiplayer where you can hatch a private battle, Quick Play for anyone who wishes to jump right into the action, and Single Player. Still, Single Player is not the singular mode that it makes itself out to be as it is home to Quick Match vs CPU, which is where you and your friends in the same room can engage in an all-out-brawl against one another. It’s also home to Practise and Tutorial for the players wishing to hone their skills a little bit and learn the controls before taking to the arena, but if it’s a full one player experience you desire, then why not head on over to the Arcade. The arcade is a series of Towers, with a different difficulty setting (Easy Tower, Normal Tower and Hard Tower.)
Whatever tower you pick though, you will need to pick one fighter before you can actually pick the tower you want and each battle will feature a bit of dialogue between who you are fighting and the character you picked, The battles see each of you armed with a set number of lives (3) and the winner is the last one standing, but whereas with the Easy Tower you only have to fight singular characters until the final battle, the harder the tower, the more enemies you’ll find yourself facing, but there is a greater award should you prove yourself worthy of claiming it, so there’s always that. Also, even if you lose, you can continue, so if you fall off that horse, then get back on it and try again. Victory will be yours if you desire it enough! And I the dialogue that comes with Arcade mode doesn’t do enough for you, you could always check out the Brawler’s section of the game and read up on their skills and lore. Their history is yours to know and their hands, feet, tongues and wings are yours to command. Brawlout is ready for you, are you ready for it?
As nice as it would be to see an indie alternative go toe-to-toe with the likes of Super Smash Bros. and walk away with an even footing, it’s never going to happen because Smash is a series on a pedestal that just can’t be touched by its competition. Although saying that, regardless of Brawlout being something of a Smash clone, it is an engaging brawler, it is something that can easily be played at a competitive level and it is the closest thing we’ll get to a Smash game on Switch for the time being. So if you can put up with a fighting game that doesn’t feature characters from Nintendo’s own creation and frame-rate drops, then Brawlout really is the party fighting game for you!
THE VERDICT: 8/10
*Review Key Provided by Angry Mob Games