Brawlout (Nintendo Switch) Review

By TJ 22.12.2017

Review for Brawlout on Nintendo Switch

Brawlout follows in the footsteps of the Super Smash Bros. series, featuring intense platform fighting. Originally starting out on the PC, and still in Early Access, a full release on the Nintendo Switch seems rather dubious. On a whole, this title feels underdeveloped, with frequent, tedious loading screens, a lack of features and modes, and aggravating mechanics. While there is some fun to be had with friends, it's painfully apparent this is an unfinished game, and that leaves a sour first impression.

Brawlout draws a lot of influence from Super Smash Bros., and as such, will feel familiar to fans of Nintendo's iconic party game. The emphasis is on local multiplayer, and a group of friends duking it out together is where the experience is at its best.

Unfortunately, if the above scenario doesn't occur, then players might find themselves without much variety. In terms of online modes, there are two: a random 1v1 mode and one with friends that can host one to four players at a time. There is no four-player matchmaking, 2v2, or free-for-all available.

While that might seem grim, the offline is even worse. The only real option is Arcade mode, which challenges the player to defeat all the other characters in a gauntlet of matches. There are three difficulties: easy, medium, and hard. The easy one is reasonable, and offers good practice for new players.

Screenshot for Brawlout on Nintendo Switch

There are three main problems with Arcade mode, in order of least to most severe. The first is the overabundance of loading screens. They appear between every fight, and last anywhere from ten to twenty seconds. In addition to that, there is a transition screen that plays out for a few seconds before loading. This completely kills the pacing, and is painstaking to sit through, especially when it happens seven, nine, or eleven times, depending on which difficulty is being played.

In terms of difficulty, the only difference is number of opponents. Medium difficulty consists of nine fights against a pair of fighters, and the hard difficulty is eleven against a trio of them. This decision is not only a lazy way to ramp difficulty, but also made with blatant disregard to the combat mechanics in play.

It's infuriating to be caught in hitstun and comboed to death, and facing two opponents only doubles the likelihood and severity of that happening. The attacks happen so quick that there is often little time to react. What ends up happening is that the player gets ragdolled around the screen with no way to gain an upper-hand. Trying to get through either of the two harder difficulties is an excruciating feat.

Screenshot for Brawlout on Nintendo Switch

The most serious offense is a known bug that causes performance stutters and frame skips to occur during Arcade mode. It has been isolated as an offline-only problem, but in a game that boasts competitive play, it's an alarming discovery. What ends up happening is that at infrequent times during a fight, the camera will do a "jump," and the characters will appear in a slightly different position, almost as if some frames had happened off-screen. Thankfully, it hasn't impacted online play, but certainly shouldn't have made it into the final product at all.

When talking about content available, it's important to note that there are only eight characters to choose from, with another ten alternate outfits that must be unlocked. Starting out, there are also three stages that can be chosen, with another nine that are obtainable through progression.

Progression feels tedious and slow, with an almost unnecessary levelling system placed on each character that earn Pinata loot boxes when levelling up. For a game that has an admission fee, it would be reassuring to unlock everything in a more consistent manner.

To bring the focus back to the gameplay, there isn't much fluidity to the combat. There are a lot of overextended delays between certain actions, such as landing from a jump into a dodge, or throwing a single, regular attack and moving. A lot of these slower interactions add up to a somewhat unresponsive control that doesn't feel as 1:1 as desired.

Screenshot for Brawlout on Nintendo Switch

When considering defensive options, the main choice is to dodge roll or spot dodge. Spot dodging is a quick invincibility framed dodge that keeps the character in place. If used correctly, and with perfect timing, it allows for the most amount of response time to counterattack. However, spot dodging can be used in rapid succession, and with little to no repercussions.

One mechanic that feels out of place is the respawn invincibility. When a player dies, they return to the stage a moment after, with about one to two seconds of invincibility. This means that they can charge the other player and attempt to get in a free combo, which can feel too powerful.

While the major problems have been stated, there are a lot of smaller issues that appear when playing Brawlout, such as: poor post-match music that abruptly loops, difficult to back out to main menu from Arcade mode, strange ledge grabbing distances, Arcade dialogue being the same between characters every time.

Performance-wise, there aren't any issues; however, handheld mode suffers from an overused rumble-when-hit "feature." There is no in-game setting for this, and it is quite persistent, as it registers every hit as a rumble. Perhaps just having a quick rumble upon death would have been sufficient, because as it stands, keeping the rumble on in the Switch settings will only quickly drain battery life when playing this title.

Screenshot for Brawlout on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Brawlout attempts to fill a niche that is currently not occupied on the Switch. Unfortunately, being plagued by a rushed launch, it is not fully polished and feels lacking in content. Combat, the main focus of this platform fighter, feels clunky and requires a fair amount of tweaking before it's "just right." Paired with a handful of bugs and questionable mechanics, competitive players might not be satisfied with the current status of this title, but more casual players or those who want a party game with friends can find some enjoyment to be had here.

Developer

Angry Mob Games

Publisher

Angry Mob Games

Genre

Action

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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