It’ll be quite a while until we see a Nintendo Switch entry of mascot brawler Super Smash Bros., and while there are the other versions still worthy of your time, there is still a rather large gap in the Switch library reserved for it. It’s a major success on any system it appears on, with Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii being my personal favourite (Solid Snake, enough said), but the Switch version hasn’t even been announced yet. It’s a sure thing that it is in development, but at what stage remains a mystery. The Wii U Smash Bros. was awesome too, especially with its DLC characters, Ryu from Street Fighter and the popular Umbra Witch Bayonetta, which leaves questions as to which characters will be included in the Switch version when it arrives.
Well now, the Smash Bros. hole has partially been filled with Brawlout, a near identical fighting game which is out now for Switch. I say partially because although it is still the Smash Bros.-style gameplay we all know and love, there have been some strange choices made when it comes to the game’s aesthetic and overall vibe. As a Smash Bros. fan myself, I enjoyed my time with Brawlout, it certainly satisfied my thirst for a platform brawler on my Switch, but it didn’t hold my attention for as long as a Smash Bros. game usually does for a number of reasons. But Brawlout is not Smash Bros. It is a game in its own right; but it’s hard not to compare it to Nintendo’s triple A.
Brawlout pits eight animal-based fighters against each other on platform stages in numerous types of game modes. Your usual modes are here, such as local and online multiplayer matches, an arcade mode to see characters’ endings, link up multiple Switch consoles for LAN party goodness of up to 4 people, all of which amasses you in-game currency to spend on Piñatas in the Store which are Brawlout’s answer to loot boxes. Don’t worry though; you can’t use real money to buy them.
Each of the eight characters is nicely varied and very colourful. They are also animal-themed barring the two newest additions which came in a late update, which are Hyper Light Drifter ripped straight from his own game and Juan from the fantastic Guacamelee. Characters such as Volt, an electric-based hedgehog who strives to be chief of his shaman tribe, and Paco, a four-armed frog who has an obsession with wrestling and boxing and wants to be the best, all have some interesting backstories, and each one provides a different style of play with different elemental attacks.
Stages are, unfortunately, uninteresting and bland, they aren’t dynamic either, and they are just backdrops for the battles that ensue. Jungle Treetop and Oasis Palace are very basic in terms of stage design, being nothing more than themed platforms to fight on, but there are a few that are rather nice. Shivering Coast is an otherworldly portal type stage which looks like something out of Marvel Vs Capcom: Infinite, and Golden City is seemingly set on some sort of a Mayan temple rooftop.
Smash Bros. fans will be right at home here as the gameplay is just as quick, and the controls are similar. You’re still able to use different directions and attack buttons to utilise characters’ special moves, but the blatant removal of a block or grab technique is obvious. The lack of blocking helps keep the gameplay in motion as no player will be able to rely on defence, but the lack of a grab feature means that few characters can throw or use slam moves which were really cool. People who have played Guacamelee will know that Juan has suplexes and piledriver moves at his disposal with him being a Mexican wrestler, but in Brawlout, he has none. He can briefly grab his opponent and perform a directional soccer style dropkick, but that’s it, very disappointing.
Another omission is any form of ultimate attack. Smash Bros. had the Smash moves, but Brawlout has nothing. Instead, you have a Rage meter which fills as you hit or get hit. Once filled, you can activate Rage Mode which is nothing flashy, your character gets a red tint and their attack and defence is buffed for a short while. This disappoints as it feels like you have nothing to work up too. Although the Rage Mode can turn the fight on its head, there’s nothing quite like a super flashy move that unleashes serious damage if your opponent is stupid enough to get caught in the crosshairs.
What Brawlout essentially is, is a watered down version of Smash Bros. which, for the measly £17.99 it’s going for, is worth it. The gameplay is here in full, it’s still quick and frantic when 4 fighters are going at it simultaneously, but there’s a lot missing to truly compete with Smash Bros. But until a new version of that game comes out, Brawlout is a worthy centrepiece to a night in with the guys (or gals).
Developer: Angry Mob Games
Publisher: Angry Mob Games
Platforms: PC, Switch
Release Date: 19th December 2017