Arguably the most famous of brothers in the history of Nintendo, the Brawl Brothers? No, I’ve never heard of them, they don’t look related and quite frankly looking at the way they carry themselves, could do with a few lessons in personal hygiene. I don’t think any of them have had a bath in weeks. Shame on you, Nintendo. This is a family console.
As you know me better than my probation officer (don’t worry, that’s a joke – he’s the warden), I only had a small collection of SNES games growing up as they were just too bloody expensive. That meant that all my games were well-known titles as we didn’t have the internet pre-war, so I would pick my games based on reviews in CVG and GamesMaster magazines.
Now that I’m Billy Big Bollocks, game collector, you’d expect I’ve heard of this game by now? Nope. The only way to find out about it is to play it – and boy did I play it. This is the kind of game I would have played when I was a lad – it’s a beat ’em up, side-scrolling and has the same stereotype characters that could be from any single fighting game from the era. Right up my street. Of rage.
Motley Crüe without the hair
What’s it about? Well, as this isn’t a review, I’m not going to bother explaining as I never took the time to find out. It’s the same as any other game from the genre; Final Fight, Double Dragon and even new titles like The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors and Mother Russia Bleeds. Great way to get you to read those reviews – they’re all excellent games as far as I’m concerned. I do hope Final Fight comes to the SNES Online…
So, we’ve skimmed the story – let’s do the characters. We have Lord J – a warehouse on wheels – he’s enormous and would imagine he’s a judoka. Next up is M Bison – sorry, Slash. He looks like he’s just left the Blue Oyster Salad Bar and going home to hang up his PVC/leathers.
Our token female is Wendy, who is quick (I’m still holding out for a developer to make a character like Ellie from Borderlands as a fighter). Hack is one of the main characters. He’s a tweaked Cody from Final Fight. Finally, we have a ninja. I’m unsure what to think of him as he’s quick but doesn’t feel too tough. Also, his throwing move sucks arse – he does a flip and on some levels will mean he’ll fall off the edge mid-throw. And die.
All of the characters have their own special moves. They do differ a little, but they eat into your health, so I opted to stay away from them until I got to a boss or mob. The controls don’t use all six buttons of the SNES controller, but you can configure them in the main menu. I found that I used jump and attack (strange that) the most, so had my buttons set up, so it was easier.
Regarding controls, this game is really unusual when fighting enemies. For the majority, you can hit them without issue, but there were far too many occasions where I thought the game had glitched or something. Each time I fought a boss, I lost countless lives as you simply cannot hit them. I was standing right next to the clone of Lord J (more on that in a minute), and despite button bashing, the moves did not connect. Instead, he repeatedly threw me as I was up close.
The way you collect health is also a bizarre matter. Like most side-scrollers, you pick up health as you go along. In Brawl Brothers, you hold it in your hand as if it were a weapon – only it isn’t. Why else would you collect health? Annoying when your health is low, and you’re walking around like a bell end with the food in your hand but then get hit by a grunt.
Violence is the answer
Without a doubt, the flaw of being unable to connect a punch on the boss’ nose is a significant issue, and probably why I spent a good deal of time on this game – I kept using my credits up on boss battles. Remove that and the weird “I’m going to walk around with a milk carton(?) in my hand when I have zero health”, and this is a good game. Those be the only issues, fam. No!
Brawl Brothers has a horrible level design where you can aimlessly wander around fighting the same respawned enemies again and again and again. In one of the earlier levels (maybe the first level?) your character enters the sewers without a turtle in sight. What I didn’t realise was that you need to follow a path to proceed to the next area. As a 2D side-scroller, you don’t have the option to explore, but there are doorways you can enter. I seemed to be in a loop for far too long until I realised that you need to navigate correctly. When I play a beat ’em up, I want to hit, not think. Even if it is that simple.
Exploring shouldn’t be an option – I just want to smash. This got irritating, but then again, the actual gameplay is fun; otherwise, I wouldn’t have stuck with it. By far, the easiest way to play the game is with throws as when you throw an enemy, it takes damage off the others if in range, plus you can lob them off buildings for a quick kill. Being thrown by an enemy isn’t fun for the obvious reason, but because the animation pauses for too long – giving you the insinuation that you can wriggle out (you can’t). This was another annoying element.
The go-to beat ’em up until the next one
You’re probably sensing a lot of negativity in my words, and you’d be right – there are quite a few issues with this game. That said, the overall feel of Brawl Brothers is a good one. This is how I remember beat ’em ups growing up. The graphics are classic 16-bit, annoying music and sound effects – but not an issue – and the gameplay is fun.
Just jumping back to the comment about clones. At the beginning of the game, you choose two characters. You can’t swap them out, but when you lose all your lives, you can select the alternative character during the continue. As you progress, the first few bosses you fight are your selectable posse – I said posse – but bad versions. When you beath them, you unlock the bona fide version to play. You can choose any character you want from the very beginning, but once you start, you have to use what you’ve got.
Overall, I enjoyed this game, and until Final Fight comes out (please, please, please, please, please), this will be my go-to SNES Online fighter. Or until Street Fighter 2 comes out, or Killer Instinct or… you get the point. Not got an online membership yet? Get one, and you can play games like these or from the NES Online. Not got a Switch yet? Get one, and you can play games like these from the Nintendo eShop. And so on.
Disclaimer: Yes, this is my thing now. I like beat ’em ups. Byeeee.