By: Johnny Marcondes
Brawlout which is a Smash Bros like fighting game that came out for Steam back in April is coming to the Nintendo Switch, PS4 and XBone this year. This is incredible news for not only fans of the Smash Bros series but those love fighting games in general. Brawlout is billed as a “couch play fighting game” designed for up to up four players to occupy the screen and battle it out for supremacy. Much like the popular Super Smash Bros series, Brawlout combines a roster of fun, quirky and colorful characters with straight forward strikers that could be played both competitively or casually. What makes Brawlout so much fun is the easy to pick up controls and fun characters that constantly manage to stand out from one another. Each character in Brawlout has this unique personality and presence that honestly just makes the game as a whole feel consistently fun without ever feeling repetitive and that’s what makes you want to keep going back for more.
Even though Brawlout is a game with original characters the fact that a party based fighter is coming to the Switch draws an unfair comparison to Nintendo’s own first party fighter, the Super Smash Bros series. Since the Super Smash Bros series is so universally loved, it’s often seen as the party based fighter which is understandable but that doesn’t mean Nintendo is always in the forefront. If we’ve learned anything from this year when it comes to fighting games it’s that competition is good. This year alone we’ve seen big name studios like Capcom get a slapped in the face with competition that put the company on guard after being on top of their genre for so long. MvC Infinite’s reign of top tag/team based fighting game is in jeopardy with Dragon Ball Fighter Z and BlazBlue Cross Tag rearing their heads and it’s honestly a good thing. Sometimes these studios need a wake up call and a little diversity thrown in the mix a good thing. Although it’s hard to not compare the game to the Smash Bro series due to it’s similar nature but comparing the two isn’t exactly a bad thing. Games like Brawlout, Super Smash Bros and Playstation All Stars all fall under this unique genre of party fighting games that embody everything that makes this genre truly fun. Fighting games are all about the characters and with such a color roster Brawlout stands out with they’re unique attacks and visual style. As a fan of fighting games I’m beyond excited for this release, currently we have an immense amount of fighting games currently out and on the way to be released that geared towards more hardcore gamers/fans of that genre so it’ll be a nice breath of fresh air to get something different.
It’s surprising to see Brawlout head over to the Switch of all consoles due to it’s similarity to Nintendo’s own party fighter the Super Smash Bros series. Seeing Nintendo not only sign the game to their console but promote it through a really nicely done trailer shows the effort Nintendo is making to keep their promise of third party support alive. Brawlout has this really gorgeous aesthetic of vivid cartoony like characters that fit the Nintendo mold more so than any other home console the game will be appearing on. It almost seems like a partnership that was destined to happened, Nintendo continues to struggle at the moment with quality titles and games that lack drawing power to consoles. Having a handful of big titles under their belt isn’t enough to hold themselves over until the next major title drop so now more than every Nintendo needs to promote games from the outside. Brawlout could be that third party game to really help Nintendo get out of this funk they’re currently in. While there’s no official release date to the game so far for any home console, the fact that it’s actually coming out in 2017 is promising enough as that release date will surely help hold over Nintendo in it’s upcoming first holiday season with the Switch.
Brawlout as a title has this great balance between competitive gaming and casual friendliness where anyone can pick it up and learn the basics that’ll hold them over, or they can take a more competitive route and really break these characters down and learn how to utilize them on another level. Just like the Smash Bro series, Brawlout can be as complex as you want it to be or about as casual as you want it. This is exactly the type of game that’s meant to please both spectrum’s of the gaming community without sacrificing one or the other. Brawlout may get a lot of comparisons to Smash but that doesn’t mean it’s just another clone, unlike the Smash series there are no shields or blocking instead it focuses more on heavy strikes and aggressive rush downs that keep things fast paced. It’s this no holds barred nature that separates Brawlout from the typical party fighter and makes you as the player really try to learn characters individually to determine who has the right style for you.
Seeing as how each character has their own unique play style, the lack of shields are really going to add to competitive nature of the game. Honestly, it’s pretty exciting especially given how some characters are rush down experts, grapplers or mid range fighters. With a diverse cast each playing different Brawlouts appeal to potential competitive play becomes the star of the show, even for casual gamers when it comes to trying to break down mechanics you can’t help but wonder what this game can really do and become when tapped into it’s potential competitively. While it’s incredibly nice and refreshing to have another party fighting game across all platforms, what really helps Brawlout stand out is its mechanics which I think those in the FGC will love. The mechanics in Brawlout use familiar movements like wave dashing and air dodging but unlike your run of the mill party fighter it also has depth with the use of “rage meter”.
You build up your rage meter by either dealing out damage or taking damage and like various other games that use meter specials you’re able to unleash special attacks, break combos with a “rage burst” or once fully filled enter a “rage mode”. This simple yet effective mechanic really adds layers of depth the game where players at a casual level can begin to understand the mechanics and chain things together while advanced players can use it to be more strategic and deal optimal damage. Rage burst will be used to knock enemies back breaking their combo while giving you enough time to counter attack, similar to Guilty Gears use of burst this could really be a deciding factor in many competitive bouts. Rage mode on the other hand is all about dealing massive damage with the added perk of increasing your damage given while reducing the damage taken by others. It’s such a fun little twist to classic mechanics seen in other fighters, it’s simplistic yet lenient enough to be used in more advanced ways.
As of right now the same cast from the initial Steam release is scheduled to be in the console ports with the exception of a new fighter. Hyper Light Drifter from the indie hit of the same name makes his debut in Brawlout and he looks incredible. Stepping out of his 16-bit like retro look into a fully rendered model he doesn’t miss a beat as his strikes are both visually gorgeous to look at and devastating to be on the receiving end of. There isn’t any word of future DLC and other cameo characters as of yet but seeing how this game is getting a fair share of attention especially from Nintendo it would be nice to console exclusive characters for the game. Kratos from God of War was effective in Playstation All-Stars so him making an appearance in a PS4 version of the game would be pretty cool. Perhaps Xbox could either use Master Chief or even Jago from Killer Instinct as their exclusive with Nintendo lending Link or Captain Falcon for the Switch. While nothing is confirmed it would be a fanboys dream come true to see console exclusive characters to this rising party fighter.
In terms of the modes that will be available in the game there’s your standard free for all casual match and ranked match for a more competitive online play style where players will fight for top spots in the leaderboards. For those who just want to face friends online there’s private lobbies or offline play that supports up to 4 players. Two features I personally will be using a lot will be the Brawlout Network where players can check their stats, history and view replays of various fights which will come in handy with streaming, editing and sharing your matches with friends. Brawlout TV is the other feature that will be constant go to for me as it allows you to watch live matches from other players or view replays from from a specific player which depending on how large the competitive community becomes for the game could be really great. Make sure to check back for more Brawlout news, updates and reviews when the game launches for home consoles later this year.