Ever since Nintendo introduced us to a new way to brawl with its debate title Super Smash Brothers for the N64 way back in 1999, gamers have been mashing and thrashing their controllers to greater combo heights all in the hopes of coming out on top. The genre has undergone some evolution throughout the years but the core mechanics haven’t really seen much in way of progression over the genres almost 20 years of existence. Don’t get me wrong there have been some great entries in the series, mostly by Nintendo and its above-mentioned series but other titles have come and gone as well each hoping to bring some new element to set it apart from others. This is our Brawlout review for Nintendo Switch.
When Brawlout came across my desk last week I was interested to see if this self-proclaimed fighting game has what it takes to be the next contender in the ongoing king of the ring battle for Brawler dominance. So after almost a week of thrashing and bashing my way through the single-player tournament play and countless coach coop matches with some friends, I’m ready to weigh in on whether or not this fighter has what it takes to be the next brawler champaign. So wait no longer, friends because our review of Brawler by Angry Mob Games is here.
Brawlout opens up to a pretty straightforward concept; pick a fighter, pick a mode and smash everything in sight. No cumbersome story or long drawn out introductions to get in the way just a couple of quick clicks and you are right in the action. This is the first area that Brawlout really succeeds, it is as a whole a streamlined experience. Everything from the tutorials to combat has been streamlined to give the lowest point of entry possible to the genre. As someone that tends to get distracted quick and also not pay much attention to the details, I appreciated Angry Mobs care when laying out and executing this element of the game design.
Even jumping between modes took only a couple of quick clicks to initiate with each joycon becoming its own controller for combat. Just to test how seamless it was to switch between a single player handheld mode to multiplayer mode I loaded into a multiplayer screen before removing the joycons. At first, I was concerned that I would have to back out or even shut off the game before it would recognize what I had done but to my pleasant surprise, this was not the case. Instead, each of us simply hit a button combo on our joy cons and we were off and running in multiplayer mode. Brawlout on switch lends itself well to a quick multiplayer battle and it’s great to see that Angry Mob has leveraged the portability and versatility of its switch release.
Visually Brawlout is a beautiful little brawler offering a diverse color palette to both its characters and settings. The characters themselves are an interesting mix of mythical mashups and a few familiar faces, each with their own set of abilities and skills and after spending time with each of the unlocked base characters I have to say that they really do offer a diverse mix of playstyles. As someone who tends toward quick sword combat, I quickly attached myself to the drifter, a sword-wielding man of mystery. Overall the visuals and combat animations are gorgeous.
As mentioned earlier combat is handled in much the same way as the rest of the game. Its quick, streamlined and a lot of fun. Each character has a set of skills and combo builds available to them. Learning to master one character is crucial for any long-term victory in the arena. The nice thing is that there is progression incentive in the form of master rewards that are obtained as you level the individual character in battle. Awards range from gold (an in-game currency that can be spent in the store) to gems ( a currency purchased with real money that can also be spent in the store) and everything in between.The progression system as has an item unlock system which basically unlocks new stuff that can be used during combat.
Overall Brawlout is a solid fighter game. It offers everything you would expect from a game in the genre. Yet as I played over the last week two things about the game that concerned me. The first is the store. As mentioned earlier there are two currencies in Brawlout, gold, and gems (no idea what they are actually called so I’m going with gems). I appreciated that I can grind out gold and use it to purchase items in the store.
What I don’t appreciate is that hero unlocks are locked behind a random item generator in the form of a pinata system. Much in the vein of Fortnite and the like. The only guaranteed way to unlock new heroes is to spend real money on gems to purchase the top tier Brawler Pinatas. The standard fiesta pinatas offer a chance a what looks to be a token that you put towards a hero; collect enough tokens and you get the hero. This essentially means that if you aren’t willing to pony out the money to buy the characters straight up you are stuck not only in a gold grind but also a token grind to obtain new fights. It feels a little pay to win if I’m being honest and seemed out of place in this otherwise every accessible brawler.
The other issue of concern is that Brawlout, although a solid entry into the genre doesn’t really inject anything new into the genre. As mentioned it is a solid offering with streamlined combat and for the most part quite accessible to gamers. Yet I wonder what will keep people playing it when the next great brawler enters the arena. For Switch players, it’s safe to project that we will see some form of Super Smash Brothers in the next couple of years and frankly as a Nintendo first party title it will get all the hype it needs to be a success. So is Brawlout a good game? Yes, for the most part, it offers everything I would hope to see in a fight arena game. However, a lack of ingenuity in design and some awkward paywalls in the store may find this title on the wrong side of a TKO judgment come round 12 in the ring.