News May 16, 2017

UFG Goes Hands on With Brawlout!

Written By: Kenneth Seward Jr.
Date: 05/16/2017

I love me some Smash Bros. Ever since the original game launched on the N64, I’ve been hooked! It was such a departure from what I came to expect from a fighting game. The goal of knocking characters off of a stage instead of depleting a health bar, a roster full of Nintendo mascots, and the random item drops – it’s was like SNK’s King of Fighters and Nintendo’s Mario Kart had a baby…a gloriously cartoonish baby with violent tendencies!   

Fast-forward to now, the success of Super Smash Bros. has led to a new subgenre of fighter. Platform fighters (I believe that’s the name gamers are going with) all share the unique aspects birthed by this franchise. Some notable titles have come and gone, namely Sony’s PlayStation All-Stars. That said, up until now, I hadn’t really seen a true competitor; most would be hard-pressed to name a game from this subgenre that plays even remotely as well as Smash Bros. Insert Angry Mob Games’ Brawlout!

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Brawlout is a platform fighter that looks to offer a competitive edge by combining elements from games like Super Smash Bros. with more traditional fighting games. That wasn’t what first caught my attention though. No, it was the colorful characters and fast paced combat. After seeing the first trailer, I was all “man this looks like a real contender”. It was only later that I learned that Angry Mob wasn’t just trying to emulate what came before. And because of this, I believed it could give Smash a run for its money, when it comes to the basics – something that was confirmed shortly after I received my preview key.

True competitor status was first established with  the utilization of the Brawlout characters’ limited move sets. If you’ve played a game like this before, you know that there are a total of two attacking buttons, one for regular moves and one for specials. Moving your character in different directions while pressing one or the other will cause your character to perform different attacks. Just tapping B might make you jab while pressing Forward and B sends out a powerful kick. Simultaneously holding Forward and B will charge the kick, making it stronger than normal. The super moves help by dealing damage and maneuvering around the stage; pressing Up and A gives your character a unique “third jump” to help them get back on a platform. The other face buttons allow for a jump and dodge. It’s simple at first. After a few hours playing though (mostly in the game’s training mode) I started see how these simple moves could connect to one another.

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Most of the special moves in Super Smash Bros. are either damaging in nature (Bowser’s Fire Breath) or made to knock players off the stage (Samsus’ Charged Shot). A few are there to lock down an opponent in order to follow up with a hard attack but for the most part these special moves are meant to inflict damage. In Brawlout, most of the specials are supposed to be used in conjunction with others. Take Sephi’ra for example. She can throw out slow moving sand clouds that do little damage. However, if a character is hit by one they’ll be launched back towards her, allowing for a follow up ability. If you’ve ever used Reptile’s force balls in Mortal Kombat, then you’d have a pretty good idea of what I mean.

What I’m getting at is, Angry Mob was looking layer more traditional elements over the arcade-like mechanics. This is also seen with the Rage Meter; a bar that fills as players deal and take damage. Filling it halfway will allow them to Rage Burst, interrupting an opponent’s combo before pushing them away. Fill it all the way up and they’ll go into Rage Mode. This mode increases a character’s knockback (making it easier to send opponents flying) while reducing the amount of damage they take, essentially weighing them down. There is a bit of strategy at play here. Seeing as how it’s easy to get knocked off a stage, balancing when to Rage Burst/Rage Mode is important; using either ability at the right time could keep save you from an early exit.

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It’s hard to really explain how Brawlout is similar, yet different to other games of this ilk. What I can say is that it’s entertaining, even in its Early Access state. So much so, I don’t care that there are no items or random happenings. Yes…I’m that guy who loves the chaotic nature of Smash Bros. Fighting one-on-one without crazy stage transitions and such is boring to me. That’s not the case here. At least, not for now – the elements taken from more mainstream fighters help in this regard. Multiple modes of play both online and off, including a spectator mode that allows players to watch matches while waiting for their own to start, are present.  Most of which will keep me busy for the time being. Angry Mob is promising more though. Alongside the casual, ranked, and tournament styled modes will come a story campaign and single-player challenges. The only place I can see Brawlout failing is in the characters themselves. Not because they are poorly designed – they are all charmingly made especially Paco, the four-armed frog/luchador – but because they aren’t familiar. They aren’t a part of a long running franchise. They also aren’t very relatable. Beyond their look and a brief bio, we don’t know much about them; making an angry face while attacking is about as much personality as we’ll get at this stage in the game.  

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All and all, I think Brawlout is going to be a real winner. It has the moves, the cartoony characters, and a decent amount of content (both present and on the way). I think Angry Mob needs to build up these characters when it comes to a persona. Maybe that’ll happen when the story mode is implemented. Other than that, I can whole heartily recommend Brawlout. It’s a good time waiting to happen.

Side Note: I’m aware of Rivals of Aether. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to play it. I heard it’s great though. That said, based on overall design, I still believe Brawlout is the closest to competition Smash has right now!