For as amazing a first year the Nintendo Switch has had, the one itch the players are still looking to scratch with the console is a rough and tough fighting game. 2K’s attempt at brining over their annual wrestling sim floundered, Super Smash Bros. is still nowhere to be seen, and the current lack of virtual console means that dipping into a previous iteration of the Nintendo’s premier fighting crossover is nowhere on the horizon. Enter Brawlout, a slightly more stripped-back approach to the party fighting game genre, hoping to fill this ever-present void.
Previously made available for PC players earlier in the year on Steam, the game has now finally made its way to the house of Mario’s platform. At first sight Brawlout features a lot to tempt over fighter fans. The art-style is vibrant and colourful, there are a multitude of character specific moves and combos, and plenty of unlockables to keep you gripped. Unlike more hardcore fighting experiences like Tekken, Street Fighter, or Mortal Kombat, Brawlout cleverly chooses to lean into the same basic principles you’d find in Smash – i.e. keep pounding on your opponent as much as possible, building up their player percentage until they can be knocked off the platform.
Compared to Smash however, Brawlout features a more streamlined roster of fighters. Each character takes inspiration from an animal albeit with their own unique twist, but what will immediately tantalise indie fans is the inclusion of Hyper Light Drifter’s Drifter and Guacamelee!’s luchador Juan. Suddenly things get more interesting, and the future of Brawlout is made all the more exciting. While the game was never pitched as anything other than a pretty comparable Super Smash Bros. clone, it’s highly likely that more indie challengers will enter the fight. I’m not quite sure how the developers over at Angry Mob Games have hustled such characters into their game, but this prospect alone easily makes Brawlout worth the price of admission.
Brawlout is a budget price fighter when compared to the power-pushing visuals of its peers, but it can’t be denied that the game has lots of character. Being flung off of the platform could lead you to catapulting your tongue onto the nearest ledge as a frog, or upper-cutting your way to safety in the form of a chicken. At times Brawlout is heated, frantic, but almost always absolutely bonkers.
One way Brawlout seeks to shakeup the fighting game formula is by implementing a complete lack of blocks. Dodging instead acts as the main method in which to avoid damage when caught in a juggle or a grab, forcing players to make use of the arena space a lot more. Anyone can stand there with their fists up to better withstand brute force, but here, your only chance at gaining the advantage is by hopping, dodging, and attacking. Further tweaks come in the form of a rage meter which ups the power of your attacks temporarily, as well as an in-game piñata system to unlock new brawlers. Don’t worry though, no real money can be spent.
So does Brawlout contain within it the makings of a indie Super Smash Bros.? We’d like to think so! Is it quite sparse in terms of stages and modes? Sure. Could the game be a little more polished? You bet! But what is here are the makings of a fun party fighter, a foundation whereby in the near future cooler indie characters can be introduced in addition to original ones. All at a budget price point, you can’t really complain.