One of the downsides to having countless options is coming up with something new. Ninjin – Clash of Carrots attempted to address this by having a constant state of motion. It wasn’t much and didn’t change the core idea but still offered a different seeming experience. Speed Brawl works a similar way. By adding time mechanics to a beat ‘em up, it’s less about winning and taking as little damage as possible and now chaining combos and speed. With interesting visuals, a different take and RPG elements, is it enough to make it stand out or is it another different in approach, same in sprite games?
Speed Brawl tells a pretty straightforward story. You join a competition, so you go through various larger than life fools that you need to defeat. A lot of the dialogue is trash talk, some of which is fun, with other times feeling tedious. There isn’t enough to really latch onto and by the time it really moves the story, players have probably lost interest. Despite the negatives, this is the type of game that is based more off gameplay, which is rather enjoyable.
The average stage is comprised of one or more arenas, where players need to defeat a variety of enemies. Some are time wasters, others have deeper mechanics like unflinching or can summon additional enemies, with a few being dangerous to let live (confusion grenades). What you typically need to do is take out the most dangerous enemy and work your way through them all.
Even though there isn’t a lot of moves, the best tactic is to try to group them together or burst damage them. This can be done by beating them across the screen and then using an uppercut to catch multiple foes, simply swapping out or using a well timed specials to show them who’s boss. It will take some time, especially since environmental hazards will be crucial for decreasing time, but offers a lot to do without it being overwhelming.
In addition to offering different characters, play styles and tactics, there are various ways to enhance your character. Players can change their build, so more attack, defense, different attributes and even abilities (additional jump, etc). Increasing your fame will also unlock additional skills to bring out your character’s potential. How you build them depends on you, though it will allow players to hone their best abilities or decrease their negatives to come out ahead. The same goes for other characters, so maybe you’ll use someone fast to group enemies together, only to have a powerhouse melt them.
Combat is not the only challenge Speed Brawl has to offer. Players can also take part in other competitions that focus on speed and/or accuracy. One of the first and hardest is using every rush pillar and getting to the end within the time limit. It’s one of those easy to do and hard to master challenges that will put player’s skill to the test.
Those who still have issues or want to see something different can choose co-op. Speed Brawl supports local and online play, giving friends and family the chance to be the best however they want. Truly competitive players can also fight for rank on leaderboards. It currently doesn’t seem too difficult to be higher up, though the difference between first and 20th is vast enough to still offer a challenge.
Speed Brawl isn’t a terribly complex game but it does a lot with very little. Even though the story is quite annoying and forgettable, combat is smooth enough to have fun. Combine this with time limits, RPG elements and online leaderboards and it’s the type of game players can play for quite a while. And, if you’re not competitive, simply play with others and have fun your way. So, if you’re looking for a fun new beat ‘em up, this is the game for you.
[Editor’s Note: Speed Brawl was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]