Full Disclosure: Angry Mobs provided a copy of Brawlout on the Switch for review purposes.
Brawlout is a ‘party fighting game’ made by Angry Mobs studio. The game was formally released April 2017. Now, Brawlout is launching on the Nintendo Switch in hopes of providing a Smash-like experience for players while we wait for the next installment. The game is about 20 USD as an eShop download. So is Brawlout the Brawl to end them all? Or is it just another lame clone? This is PushDustIn from Source Gaming, and let’s get started with this review.
As many fans of Source Gaming are probably aware, when Sakurai was originally planning Smash 64, he felt he needed to use characters that already existed in order to lure players into a console fighting game. With the help of Iwata, Sakurai was able to receive permission to use Nintendo characters and the rest is well history.
Brawlout much like Rivals of Aether features completely unique characters and builds their own lore and world. While both games have guest characters, the focus is on completely original characters with their own history. At the same time, Brawlout is a fighting game, and thus story isn’t THAT important. Nonetheless, Brawlout finds a balance. There is an ‘Arcade Mode’ where players can fight 8-12 battles and are rewarded with a short ending. What’s more is in the Brawler menu option, there is lore for all the characters which details their backstories.
My main issue with the story in Brawlout is that it’s pretty confusing. Unlockable characters are sometimes alternate dimension versions of the base characters or possible future versions of that character. Before the fights in Arcade Mode there is a quick back and forth between the characters, but it usually equates to, “I guess I have to beat you up now”. All in all, the story in Brawlout is a mixed bag: it’s there for those who want it. But it’s not that good. What’s worse is that the clone characters will appear to have the same ending as their original counterparts. This really confused me.
Brawlout does away with shielding and grabbing in order to focus on fast-paced action. This means it’s always better to be attacking, or moving into position in order to attack. By either receiving damage, or by dealing it players will build up their rage meter which can be used to stop combos or enter rage mode which gives them extra strength. The game also features a lot of advanced techniques that Smash players will be familiar with. meteor smashes, breakfall, directional influence and even wave dashing are all present in Brawlout. The game has the same exact button layout as Smash, which means it’s very easy to learn and master. Gamecube controllers can be used by using the Gamecube Adapter on the Switch as well.
There are some differences though. Characters in Brawlout are not limited to the four specials. Some characters have additional specials which can only be used in the air, or after a jab combo for example.
The game’s base characters and the two guest characters feel very unique from each other too. Some are better for rushing in and slashing, while others are great for trapping your opponents. In my opinion, the Drifter is the most beginner friendly character as he plays a bit like Marth and the other sword characters in Smash.
Brawlout features for the most part, competitively legal stages. There are 12 stages in total and have varying platform layouts and sizes. There are a couple of stages with gimmicks but nothing that is really overbearing as Brawlout’s focus is clearly the fighting. Unlike Smash, there are no items nor ‘gimmicky’ stages so I’m not sure how much appeal Brawlout would have to some of Smash’s more casual fans.
The game doesn’t feature a whole lot of modes nor options. There aren’t even options that I’d expect for competitive fans such as stage striking, or turning off certain stages from random. I’m also surprised that there is no option to pair controls within the game itself. Players will need to do it through the Switch’s home menu if they would like to use different controllers. These are just some of the small adjustments that Angry Mob could do to make the game feel more complete.
The game does feature a lot of unlockables in the form of pinatas. When opened, a pinata will give players a random unlock from the list depending on the pinata. There are pinatas which can unlock fighters, skins, and other cosmetic items. Brawlout feels like it could easily add more unlockables in future updates. One thing that really surprised me is that when starting out in Brawlout, players can’t taunt at all. There are no defaults — they have be unlocked through the pinatas. This was a bit annoying for me personally as I didn’t unlock a taunt for awhile even after opening several pinatas. In the end, your experience with random unlocks will vary.
When I first started playing Brawlout, I thought it was quite novel that there was no blocking button. However, as I played the game longer I felt like it was actually a real disservice. Attacks, grabs and blocks act like a ‘rock-paper-scissors’ in fighting games. By removing the blocking and grabs, there is only the ‘rock’ mode left which makes the fighting feel less deep. Furthermore, characters who have a long range like the Drifter will probably tend to be High Tier, as they can effectively keep their opponents at bay quite easily.
For the most part the game runs well enough. But, I’ve played Brawlout for almost 10 hours, and I’ve ran into several hiccups. The game will tend to randomly lag at some points. I noticed it occurring a lot more when I was using the “K.O. water effect”, but it’s still unacceptable for a fighting game. What’s worse is the loading time. Brawlout can take up to forty seconds to load a single fight. This means when grinding for unlocks, a lot of your time will be spent on just waiting for the game to load! The loading screen is incredibly boring — just an image of the stage. Some simple text about the game’s lore, or even generic tips would really help spruce things up. What’s worse is that the game has crashed on me once when playing. Overall, Brawlout doesn’t feel optimized for the Switch.
I have mixed feelings about the unlock system in Brawlout. I like that it encourages players to use a wide range of characters by tieing a level up system to each individual characters. However, it simply takes way too long to level up a single character. In my experience, I average 300-400 XP per battle, with 660 or so XP being the most I’ve gotten. To level up a single character to 5, which is when stages will unlock players will need to do 30-50 fights. That means unlocking all the stages in the game could take players over 500 fights. In addition, crystals which can be used to unlock the game’s unlockable characters are a bit hard to come by. The games’ unlockable characters are all just clones of the main characters in the game. I felt a bit disappointed when I realized that.
To be fair, this may be a limitation of the lack of online play and may be fixed when the game is in more people’s hands. It seems like Angry Mob may be still adjusting when things are unlocked as the text for the stages on one screen states they’d unlock at level 10 instead of level 5, which they currently do. So that’s another error that I discovered.
Also, why is Paco the only character with red eyes after he is defeated? The rest of the characters have blue crossed out eyes. He’s also the only non-guest character to not have a clone as far as I’m aware, which makes me suspect he’ll get one in a future update.
The UI, in general, was another ‘mixed’ bag for me. I severely dislike the character select screen as it’s not very well laid out and doesn’t feel intuitive. What’s worse is that in my case, I unlocked the Drifter’s stage first. However, I didn’t have any stages unlocked adjacent to it so I couldn’t actually select it. It’s a small issue in the grand scheme of things, but it’s representative of my overall feelings towards Brawlout: there’s definitely both good and bad here.
Brawlout feels like missed potential. It has some good foundation but requires a bit more polish before it can fully compete with Rivals of Aether or even Smash itself. Since the game is so online focused, I wouldn’t be shocked if a lot of the issues I have with Brawlout are fixed in the future. Until then, I’d recommend this only for players who are serious about platform fighters and want to try a Smash-like experience on the Nintendo Switch. If you enjoy Smash casually, I’d suggest waiting for updates to Brawlout before purchasing as hopefully, Angry Mob can fix some of these issues.
I give Brawlout a 3.0 / 5.
I’ll be sure to update my post on Source Gaming with my impressions on online play once the game launches on the 18th. So if you are watching this, please check out the description on YouTube for a link to the full article.
Thank you guys so much for listening to this review. Let us know what you think in the comments below. Leave a like and remember to subscribe to see more content, straight from the source. Remember to check out the description for all the social media links. This is PushDustIn from Source Gaming signing off.
Mains: Yoshi (64), Game and Watch (Melee), Wario (Brawl), Wario/Pac-Man (Smash for 3DS/Wii U)