BRAWL (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Shane Jury 18.01.2018 1

Review for BRAWL on Nintendo Switch

First founded in 2008, Polish developer Bloober Team had an early start with Nintendo hardware, bringing the title Double Bloob to DSiWare. After that, a number of titles would be created that would stand out from most other projects, including one created in co-operation with the Polish Ministry of Culture, and a launch game for the PlayStation Vita. One such project, Basement Crawl, had an appealing core mechanic but released to widespread criticism over its overall content, and was redesigned from the ground up into BRAWL. Now, two years after its release on other consoles, BRAWL blasts onto Nintendo Switch. Is this detonator primed for fireworks or destruction?

Contrary to the name, BRAWL doesn't evoke the play-style of Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series. Rather, it is more along the lines of Konami's Bomberman style of gameplay: arena-based, multiplayer-focused, bomb-placing carnage. Thankfully, while BRAWL takes this core concept, it applies much more of a unique spin than some might think upon first impressions.

Firstly, the presentation style: whilst Bomberman games tend to be on the colourful and fantasy side of the spectrum (aside from the infamous Bomberman: Act Zero), BRAWL takes on much more of a darker feel, along the lines of deranged and realistic horror films and comics. Combined with the appropriately unsettling, if somewhat repetitive, backing music and creepy voiceover work, it absolutely nails this aesthetic. The varied playable characters, ranging from a possessed teddy bear controlling a blind girl, to a Crash Test Dummy in a wheelchair, and a blood-covered mime with sewn-shut lips, reinforce this approach nicely.

Screenshot for BRAWL on Nintendo Switch

Next, how the characters play is surprisingly varied. While all of them can drop bombs and collect power-up items found in crates, each one has their own unique ability, not of unlimited use but reloadable with item collection. Blind Girl, for example, can teleport to wherever she throws her dagger weapon; the dummy can remote detonate any bombs he drops; and the mime can restrict enemy movement with placed cages. In a typical multiplayer match, these abilities can change the game considerably, but for the Story mode campaigns they are vital for progression. Told in a chapter format for each individual character, this narrative takes them through the deadly Emporium in their search for a way out. Short, but well-paced levels and excellent comic-style cut-scene art make this mode quite enjoyable, if somewhat awkward during the more intense parts with frame-rate issues.

Screenshot for BRAWL on Nintendo Switch

On top of character-specific abilities, the bombs themselves work slightly differently, as well. For BRAWL's inspiration, when a bomb explodes, the entire blast radius lights up at once. Here, though, the flame spreads outwards from the blast point. What may sound like a minor difference ultimately adds a new layer of strategy in that there is more time to escape being cornered by some well-placed bombs, requiring more care in first putting them down. Combining that with the game-changing ability possibilities makes BRAWL a very different beast from its influence.

Although the Story mode of BRAWL is fairly sizeable, with all eight campaigns taken into account, and there is a Challenge mode consisting of brutal survival modes, the real meat of a game like this is in its multiplayer offerings, which are quite voluminous. The four-player Versus option is here, with customisable settings, including turning off abilities for that more retro feel, and Duel uses a smaller arena for a one-on-one match. Classic features staple power-ups, like remote detonators and bomb kicks being brought into the fray, and Sumo takes a novel approach in knocking foes out of the arena instead of simply blasting them. Color Domination is the interesting one, as it takes a page out of the Splatoon playbook in filling the arena with a team colour as the winning condition.

Screenshot for BRAWL on Nintendo Switch

Even though BRAWL offers a comprehensive amount of single-player and multiplayer content, plus a lengthy number of gallery items, models, and in-game trophies to unlock, it is missing one critical component: online play. Strangely absent from this version of the game, despite being in the other console forms, online multiplayer options for BRAWL would have greatly aided in its longevity. Even simple leaderboards for the Challenge and Story portions could have boosted the replayability of those modes. Nonetheless, BRAWL is still an enjoyable take on the Bomberman formula, and has more than enough content to satisfy fans of the genre, and of horror in general.

Screenshot for BRAWL on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Applying a new aesthetic to the established gameplay formula of Konami's Bomberman series, BRAWL brings a unique darker feel and subtle mechanic changes, grouped together in a bundle of multiplayer goodness. There are only some frame-rate issues that hold it back slightly, and the lack of online play also proves to be a bit disappointing.

Developer

Bloober Team SA

Publisher

QubicGames

Genre

Action

Players

6

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

A twisted take on Bomberman sounds very intriguing!

I always hoped there would be a Mario-themed game in the Bomberman style, as well Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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