If an indie multiplayer brawler game drops into the market and you don’t have enough people to play it with you, does it make a sound? In the case of Blast Brawl 2: Bloody Boogaloo, the answer is “probably”- if only because the very loud and synth heavy soundtrack will stick with you even after only viewing the trailer for the game. Blast Brawl 2 was created by Mind’s Eye Games, a one-man game developer who appeared on the scene in 2016. BB2 is a silly, bloody, punch-heavy, story-lite ode to the 80’s action movies that is definitely fun, but has some drawbacks.
Blast Brawl 2 is described in the press release as:
“A fast-paced fighting game where any hit means DEATH! Battle your friends as a vastly diverse selection of characters, experiencing intense combat where every blow earns a kill, and skill reigns supreme. Brawl amidst a huge selection of maps, each set in a post-apocalyptic future and featuring unique elements that can change the face of a battle. And what’s victory without a little dance?”
The game lives up to much of that description, but falls a bit short when it comes to the “battle your friends” option. A large portion of the game (and apparently a large portion of the map creation) is devoted to the multiplayer section, which is only playable via local multiplayer.
The days of gathering a huge group of friends together (enough for the 8+ player battles advertised in the game’s trailer) in one physical location to play a game are long gone for many of us, especially for a PC game (the game is also available for download on XBox One). Not having an online multiplayer option is essentially wasting a large section of the game. This review is only about the “Waves” portion of the game, since local multiplayer with more than 2 people was not an option.
Starting the Game
Players are transported to an alternate universe where two totally rad 80’s heroes are contemplating the trials of saving the world when they are suddenly sucked into a dimension warp where they are forced to fight baddies for vague reasons. As you navigate through the starting menu, you are prompted to learn how to play by completing a tutorial.
The PC version of the game does support use of a controller, and as the assigned keyboard inputs for punching, kicking, jumping, or running weren’t what one would normally expect (it’s not W,S,A,D to move, Space to jump, ect), this review was conducted using an XBox controller plugged into the PC.
Players can choose between two starting characters: a Warrior or a Brawler. The Warrior has a powerful sword and slow movement, while the Brawler hits hard and moves quickly. Learning how to play is easy enough, but by the time the tutorial is over, the music begins to become less “fun” and more grating. There is not an option to quickly turn the music off on that main menu screen (it’s found in the settings), but instead the jukebox in the bottom corner leads you to even more synth music.
The solo play option is found in the “Waves” category. Your job is to fend off waves of enemies that either increase in number or skill as the rounds progress. It’s a good way to quickly gain the coins needed to unlock the remaining 5 types of fighters (Sniper, Ninja, Vanguard, Pirate, Viking) and learn how to play with the movement traits of each fighter. Waves mode can be played on 4 different single-screen maps that have very different traits. The music is a distraction in this mode, and once turned off, the game has a much more interesting feel to it. It’s clear that a lot of work went into the audio production for the game, since the ambient and action sounds are excellent at setting the mood for each map.
In “Neon City” you’re transported to what looks like Los Angeles at sunset, and the challenges you face there start with just a run of the mill zombie problem, and progress to other fighters of similar strength, disembodied flying dragon(?) heads, and other undesirables. The maps in the game don’t appear to have a uniform level of difficulty, as the starter enemies in the “Factory” take two hits to kill, rather than being one-shot starter kills on other maps. Each map has a very different aesthetic, and the art and character design is very good, with each character remaining playful-looking, but not too juvenile or cartoony.
The movement of the characters is unique for each player type, and accuracy is rewarded in this game. However, not having a health bar and being a one-shot target yourself means that playing slower-moving characters with more power can be a death sentence as you get to the later rounds. There’s also a kill animation that slows down the player as they take out enemies, and in later rounds when the enemies increase in number and speed, it becomes easier just to kite the baddies around the map and try to take them all out with one blow rather than risk losing the round due to the kill animation.
The balance between the fighters isn’t great once you unlock fighters like the Viking (seemingly overpowered as he is both very fast and hits very hard/accurately) and the Ninja (has a blink-like movement animation that only seems to hinder her ability to escape trouble and not very powerful attacks). In a situation with a true team fight, players would probably find a use for the ninja or the sniper, but in a one-on-many situation like the single player mode, those fighters seem fated to lose.
Blast Brawl 2: Bloody Boogaloo is a decent way to spend about 90 minutes of game time, which is long enough to unlock and play all of the characters in the game in single player mode. The game is easy to pick up and play, and with any sort of experience in fighting games, the average player could pick up on the movements and combos without much trouble. BB2 is certainly blood, with copious amounts of blood spilled with each death to a player or enemy, and the fighting is well paced and can be intense.
The absence of online multiplayer is a disappointment, and the game’s soundtrack is a bit much, but the game has great movement and fun elements that make up for some of the shortfalls. The game is still very new; it was released to Steam’s Early Access section on October 26th, 2016, so there may be some changes in the future.
Blast Brawl 2: Bloody Boogaloo is a fun, fast paced brawler with some particularly good elements in the map art and the ambient sound.
Available on Steam or XBox systems for 14.99.