Super Smash Bros is my favorite video game of all time. Whether it be from the rock solid gameplay or the impressively massive cast of characters, there’s something about it that keeps me coming back with each new installment. Because of this, I was excited to hear that Brawlout from Angry Mob Games would be making its way to the Nintendo Switch. Having never played the game before, I was interested to see how it held up on its own and what it did differently from Smash.
Is Brawlout a worthy Smash clone on Switch?
Where other Smash clones like PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale and Indie Pogo shake up the formula of the genre, Brawlout does not. Instead, it simply adapts the percentage-style gameplay, where there are no health bars and the goal is to knock your opponents off the screen. In that sense, the game was very easy to pick up and play as a Smash veteran.
However, there are a lot of times where Brawlout mimics Smash a bit too closely. In a lot of their original characters, their moves are strikingly similar to attacks that some of Nintendo’s fighters famously use. It was difficult to separate this game from something other than a clone as a result.
That said, none of the comparisons to the game Brawlout is clearly inspired by would be irrelevant if the core gameplay wasn’t fun. For the most part, it is. There’s a certain visual appeal to how the game is presented, and it runs (mostly) at a solid 60 fps. All the models look great and it’s wonderful to see representatives from Hyper Light Drifter and Guacamelee in full 3D. The movesets are simple and easy to understand with a few added mechanics. Furthermore, when you start playing the game with friends, there’s a lot of fun to be had there. In terms of how the game is structured, Brawlout plays really well.
The biggest difference with Brawlout is the rage meter. At the bottom of your character’s percentage display, there is a bar that will fill up as you attack and get attacked. If you use it when it’s halfway full, you can break out of a combo. If you use it when it’s completely filled, you activate Rage Mode, which makes you harder to knock back and increases the damage you do to opponents. It’s a nice mechanic to prevent dirty combos and move spamming from taking over the battlefield.
Where Smash really succeeds as a franchise is how Nintendo can use characters that are already familiar to the general public. Brawlout doesn’t have this advantage. Save for the two aforementioned guest characters, the entire roster was made specifically for the game. As you might expect, they’re particularly memorable.
There’s a big sense of creativity with the characters, but they feel very generic. Making matters worse is that you can unlock more characters in the game, but they’re all just re-skinned versions of pre-existing ones. I never felt the desire to try and unlock more characters because I felt like I already knew what they were like.
This concept is reflected in how the stages are presented as well. While they look nice, they lack that final element of charm and creativity that other Smash clones are known for. The stages range from a jungle treetop to an ice cave with little variety in between. The stages are also very similarly laid out, featuring a main platform with some other ledges in the air.
On that note, it’s worth noting that unlocking characters and stages is a major pain. Using an in-game lootbox system that surprisingly doesn’t take any real money (major plus there), you have to save up some currency and then roll the box to get a new character or stage. The issue here is identical to the one Super Bomberman R had when it first came out: acquiring the currency to unlock anything is a major pain. I played for a few hours, beat the Arcade Mode four times, and even went online for a few matches and still didn’t have enough money to roll for a new character. Angry Mob has said that will be patched in the future but, at the time of this writing, it’s still a huge pain.
A Hit and a Miss
There has been some talk about Brawlout having some weird frame rate stutters in offline play as well as an extreme lag-filled online mode. I’m here to say that both of these rumors are true. I’ve experienced both quite frequently, and it’s quite frustrating. The offline stutter is manageable, but the online mode is nearly unplayable at times. Once again, Angry Mob has stated that they will patch it out, but no word as to when that will be.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A copy of Brawlout was purchased by the reviewer for this Brawlout review.