Brawlout is a Super Smash Bros-inspired fighting game that packs a heavy punch despite being light on content.
Almost every significant Nintendo franchise has now appeared on or at least been announced for the Switch. But there is one glaring omission: that of Super Smash Bros. And although Angry Mob Games might strongly deny any direct comparison with the Nintendo brawler, the similarities are striking.
You pick a fighter and whack your opponents repeatedly until their damage gauge hits 100%, at which point your strikes become more likely to launch them off the side of the screen. Seasoned Smash Bros. fans will feel right at home and likely speed through the brief tutorials.
There are some minor gameplay differences though; your grab and defence options are much more limited and there’s no shield, which means you may spend a bit more time than you’d like hopping around the stage to try and avoid a decisive knockout strike from your opponent. You’ll also find that the characters are much lighter on their feet than their Smash Bros. counterparts – until you get to grips with the mechanics, you may find yourself unintentionally running straight off the side of the stage.
The biggest difference between Brawlout and Super Smash Bros. though, is the amount of content. Admittedly few games of any genre can boast as much content as Super Smash Bros. For Wii U, which was phenomenally supported by Nintendo. But even by the series’ normal standards, Brawlout‘s eight characters (18 if you count their alt-versions), including a welcome cameo from Guacamelee‘s Juan Aguacate, feel paltry and their accompanying stages aren’t all that interesting. The series has also opted not to include items, which means it doesn’t really take long to see everything the game has to offer.
The unlock system also feels confused. Whilst many will applaud the decision not to include microtransactions, the route to unlocking new costumes and alt-characters is laboriously slow with daily challenges that make this feel like a free-to-play mobile game – albeit one that costs £18.99 and can’t be sped up.
One thing that Brawlout gets very right is its design. This is every bit the vibrant, colourful fighter that sits perfectly on the Switch with appealing graphics and interesting character designs. For the most part Angry Mob Games haven’t pulled characters or stages from other franchises, so the fact they’ve been able to create a unique roster of characters that look like they could have come from other games is a massive achievement.
When we spoke to Angry Mob Games at EGX Rezzed earlier this year, they promised regular updates and re-balancing of the game. Therefore some of the initial entry problems may well cease to exist in the coming weeks and months. A patch has already been promised to iron out some minor Switch performance issues, which see the gameplay lag ever so occasionally.
What Brawlout really has going for it is the lack of serious competition on the market. The game has clearly been designed as a multiplayer experience and if you can convince a few friends to join the fray, Brawlout is an entertainingly familiar romp in either local or online mode. It’s not a Super Smash Bros. beater, but it’s a more than adequate placeholder on the Switch until the real thing arrives.