I’m a sucker for music-based games. Titles like Lumines, Dance Dance Revolution, and Audiosurf have held a special place in my heart for years by combining spot-on gameplay with an excellent infusion of music and rhythm. When I heard Rush Bros was a music-based racing platformer where you could use your own music, I got pretty jazzed. But unfortunately, even with a pulse-pounding soundtrack featuring Infected Mushroom, Rush Bros. feels like a old Flash racing game that tosses in custom music for kicks.
The story behind Rush Bros. is almost completely arbitrary; two rival DJ brothers decide to settle their squabbles via racing. This game’s designed to be played multiplayer; once two players are in a lobby, they can choose from one of over 40 levels to race to the goal in. Some levels will be sectioned off by colored gates; these require the player to have found the same colored key somewhere earlier in the level before progressing on. There are spike pits and other hazards to avoid while running; touching any hazard will kill the player and reset them a little bit behind where they died. That’s Rush Bros. in a nutshell. Oh, and there’s some music playing in the background, too.
Rush Bros. gives off the impression that it’s all about the music: the story about rival DJs, the soundtrack featuring a popular Israeli trance group, the graphics and style that seem to evoke a futuristic dance club. But in practice the music feels more like an afterthought. Some hazards move or appear/disappear in relation to the music chosen for the stage, though I can’t say I ever felt a real correlation between the energy of my songs and the movement of the obstacles in game. What makes a quality music-based game is the interaction between the game and the music.
Audiosurf changes its entire pace and feel based on the selected track, simulating a sort of roller coaster as you progress through the song. Dance Dance Revolution has players step to different beats made for each track. Lumines, the Tetris-like puzzler, makes it easier/harder to clear blocks on the screen based on the BPM of the music playing. Rush Bros. doesn’t functionally change any of its gameplay based on the chosen music, though; obstacles change their actions slightly, but otherwise races feel pretty much the same whether you’re playing trance, dubstep, or classical music. Perhaps I’m beating a dead horse, but for a game which seems to integrate music so heavily into its mythos, it felt almost forgotten when I actually played the game.
The other big problem with Rush Bros. is its lack of AI racers. As mentioned before , the game is designed to be played with another human racer, but if you don’t have one available then the only gameplay available is a time trial mode where you can race your personal best ghost times. There are power-ups you can grab to temporarily enhance your racer like Double Jump and Speed Up, but otherwise the mode is pretty cut-and-dry. Over the days that I played the game it was pretty difficult to find other players to match with for multiplayer, and unless you plan to buy the game alongside a friend, you can expect to spend a sizable amount of time in the time trial mode “arcade mode.” Considering the multiplayer race mode features power-ups that mess with your opponent and actually add some excitement to the gameplay, it’s a shame that a campaign of some kind wasn’t tied into the title.
I will give the game some credit for its level design. Track 1 starts out fairly simple and provides a good introduction to the game mechanics, but some serious challenges arise in later levels that require precise timing to navigate through the springs and spike traps. But if you’re not able to regularly find another player to race the game loses what sparkle it holds. Give Rush Bros. a shot if it’s on sale and you’re really interested, or if you know you’re going to be racing a friend regularly, otherwise, rush on by this one.
Final Score: 2.5 out of 5