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access_time May 31, 2015 at 3:54 PM in Reviews by David Poole

Review | Brawl

Team Bloober’s Bomberman inspired arcade-action game may have a lot more content than the previous version, Basement Crawl, but what comes with this improved version may not make the title worth the purchase. Despite the addition of more characters, abilities, and game modes, this remake still has a rough experience throughout, mostly through the single player component. Multiplayer at least offers some tidbits of fun, but unfortunately, a lack of players online can make this title a bit underwhelming, keeping it almost strictly at local play. Owners of Basement Crawl receive this title for free, a sort of apology for the experience in the previous game, and then all other players have to drop $20 for this downloadable title, which is a bit much for a game like this.

The game uses a horror-like presentation, taking place in an abandoned emporium where twisted things happen to the eight different characters. The story mode acts as a sort of tutorial to learn the abilities of the characters, as each character has two unique abilities along with the bombs they can place, and the instant explosive ultra move that each character shares. The game does a good job of putting each character in very specific situations, and each character has only a handful of levels that have checkpoints throughout, giving them a ranking for successful completion. Despite this, some of the missions, particularly the ones where the player must fight a boss, offer some incredibly frustrating experiences.

Many of the battles will pit the player against an AI controlled character from the selection, and then task them with hitting the opponent up to four times. Unfortunately, it feels a bit unfair, as the player by default can only be hit once, having to pick up a health power-up to get only one more extra bit of health. To add to the pressure, the opponent typically gets a handful of AI controlled minions to fight for them as well, making it rather difficult to focus on the duel when you have other enemies trying to destroy you. Add the fact that the minions can respawn, and it just creates an overly difficult and unbalanced mess. It also doesn’t help that the controls aren’t the most responsive.

One such boss fight was at the end of Dummy’s campaign, where the game pits him against the Toy Maker. Defeating the Toy Maker is difficult enough, but then the game throws in a boss rush where the player has to take down each other character, luckily each one only having one health. The problem is that dying here starts the boss rush over to the checkpoint just after defeating the Toy Maker, making the player wonder why they’re even trying to complete the campaign. Not all campaigns are that difficult, but any of the boss fights can make what should be a five minute level into a 30 minute time killer.

Outside of the story mode, the single player also offers a challenge mode, having two different game modes. Horde pits the player against waves of enemy minions, getting more difficult with each wave. The object is to survive through as many enemies as possible, which admittedly is one of the better modes of the game due to at least being fair with the challenge. Then the other mode, Sheep, is a bit like a tower defense game, where sheep continuously spawn in an area of the map as minions try to kill them. The player may place decoy sheep that explode when a minion “eats” it, but eventually some minions stop falling for it. Sheep is actually a pretty fun mode, mostly because the game doesn’t end until all the sheep are dead, allowing for the player to die as many times as they want as long as they can prevent their sheep from being slaughtered.

Getting into the multiplayer component offers quite a bit, especially if playing locally. Versus and Classic mode play much like Bomberman, offering a selection of maps that fill with power-ups for up to four players to battle it out. It’s actually a pretty enjoyable and competitive experience when playing against other human players, feeling that it evens things up a bit. Duel mode is essentially the same thing, but only one on one, making it a true test of skill with no other distractions. Sumo mode is probably the weakest of the modes, as the maps are riddled with trapdoors and open areas to fall from. Bombs in this mode don’t kill, as they instead explode boxing gloves that push the players in the direction they’re hit in, and players are given a sort of “sumo push” attack to charge into enemies. The goal is to push enemies into the trap doors, getting them killed and earning points while the timer plays. The mode is so all over the place it just isn’t really all that fun. Color Domination is a fun little game where the task is to cover the map with as much of your color as possible through exploding bombs, much like the goal of Splatoon. The multiplayer is the game’s saving grace, but even that won’t be enough to make it a worthwhile purchase for most people.

Games like Dark Souls may be frustrating, but the overall gameplay and options given still make them fun. Brawl is essentially taking all these different ideas to try and make something better, but in a lot of ways, it just falls flat. It just doesn’t offer many reasons to come back, and for multiplayer experiences on the PS4, there are many better options, even for cheaper prices. The game may satisfy cravings for a new Bomberman title, but if possible, it might be better to download Bomberman Ultra or another title from the extensive library of games on another platform. Perhaps it would be best to wait until the game falls into the PlayStation Plus selection to give it a go.

Final Score: 5 out of 10


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