Brawl is a Bomberman type “drop bombs” game that uses dark themes for reasons I can’t explain. I don’t think the name is very fitting considering you don’t fight anything, you casually drop bombs and hope you explode them near an enemy robot. The objective is to use your bombs to activate triggers to unlock doors or somehow move you to another area. Four playable characters are an evil clown, a girl with a scary teddy bear, one-armed mannequin, and crash test dummy that is wheelchair bound. There is a story mode, tutorials, local multiplayer, and challenge options on the main screen.
I chose the crash test dummy because it can remotely detonate bombs, seemed to have the advantage over whatever the other characters had. Drop bombs to break crates that will reveal items to utilize in the game including bombs, skills and specials. At the end of each string of rooms you will be given a letter score with statistics shown for time, deaths, bombs planted, skills used, specials used, and minions killed.
There is a deep-voiced narrator that will guide you through each area, giving advice on how to use new abilities. Occasionally he will roast you if you’re terrible at Bomberman games like me. The enemies are smart and will actively follow you to cause damage and to eat your bombs. Their movement in keeping after your character reminded me of the bad guys in Pac-Man. Strategy must be utilized in order to sneakily or properly place bombs whilst running away or staying undetected by the enemy. I placed three bombs and the A.I. knew to hide between the explosions lines shown by your bombs. This is the twelfth time I’ve used the word bombs. Bombs. Anyway, the computer doesn’t hold back and you may have to lure them into a trap and hold back from destroying all the crates so you can corner the robots.
Controls are fine, I opted to use the directional buttons as opposed to the joystick. If you have the D-Pad joycon I would recommend that over the normal joycon. Using the joystick left me cornered many times because I wasn’t accurate with abruptly changing directions. The music is low and eerie with a focus on the sound effects of movement and explosions.
The top right corner of the screen will say what you must do to progress to the next room, which will most likely be to eliminate the enemies or activate triggers. Robots can and will regenerate to overcome and inherently frustrate you. Their constant movement will cause you to think quickly and either bomb the hell out of robots swarming or yourself. Some enemies may use a slow down attack instead of killing you.
Boss fights are sure to test your patience and strategy skills. I found it difficult to form a plan of attack, it took a handful of deaths to hit the boss once. My boss was a dummy temptress that was always on the run. I consider myself lucky to have gotten two hits on the boss, let alone any at all. I’m pretty terrible at Bomberman games and found Brawl to be increasingly frustrating.
For fans of the genre, this will be a decent title to check out considering it’s on sale. I did my best to branch out of my comfort zone with Brawl and unfortunately did not care for it at all. Replayability is pretty decent (again, for fans of the genre) considering there are four other characters to unlock and every character has an original cut-scene origin with a tutorial that follows. AI difficulty can be altered prior to beginning a game with each character, I set mine to low and still got demolished. Other options are medium, high, and ultra. Side note, this game made my Switch very hot and the fan was loud as a result. Sadly I will not be returning to this game and would not recommend it overall.
Beard Score: 3/10
Platform: Steam, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: Jan 12, 2018
No. of Players: up to 4
Category: Action, Party, Fighting, Other
Developer: Bloober Team