Hyperbrawl Tournament PS4 Review: Speedball 3?

While it's an honour to be compared with Speedball 2, Hyper Brawl Tournament is something different.

I was hoping for a successor to Speedball 2 when it came to playing Hyperbrawl Tournament. That was a big ask really, so let’s tone down the expectations a bit.

In some ways, it’s a little like Brutal Sports Football in that brawling is encouraged. While heads don’t roll, picking or kicking an opponent to steal the ball rather than nifty footwork is fun, especially when you can whip out a weapon with R1 and take them down for a full KO.

There’s a certain amount of expectation for a sports game with ‘tournament’ in the title, and Hyperbrawl Tournament from Milky Tea offers both on and offline play against friends, enemies, frenemies and bots. A perfect serving for those stuck at home.

Hyperbrawl Tournament PS4 Review

There’s no story worth spotlighting here, so don’t expect one. What you do need to know is this is the future, and in this game, players go two on two to bag the most goals, but while putting on a good show of brawling.

Hyperbrawl Tournament - Vibrant
Vibrant thang. Source: Milky Tea

The controls are relatively simple to explain, but a little more tricky to pull off in the wild. As you’d expect, you control your players with the left stick, punch, kick, pass and change players with ‘the shape buttons’ and the shoulders will perform dives and the hyperforce special move.

As you accumulate strength, you can pull off the hyperforce with L1 and launch your enemies with a modified punch and kick, occasionally sending them towards the camera, which is amusing. You can also wield a weapon with the R1 button, hoarding a wealth of weapons and skills along the way. The combat side of things is straightforward, which is a good thing.

However, it’s not the combat or special moves that shine, but the hypercurve. Hypercurve is like the banana kick in Sensible Soccer, creating an enormous amount of aftertouch after a successful throw. The results are wicked, but it’s definitely a skill to master.

Campaign Mode

Hyperbrawl Tournament reminds me a little of Gone Viral in the visual department, and that’s a good thing. The character models and arenas are great, the colours pop, and there are customisations options too (drooling).

There are offline and online modes: arcade mode for up to four players and a campaign mode for when you’re off the grid, ranked matches are for online as well as a private match, then you have the training arena including The Trials (the tutorial you have to complete), Advanced Trials and Free Play.

Let’s take a look at the campaign mode as everything else is self-explanatory. Choose a difficulty ranging from bronze, silver and gold, select a team name and boom! On the surface, each team is different, but they’re all made up of the same characters, only you can customise them.

Hyperbrawl Tournament - Select
Team selecta. Source: Milky Tea

There are all-rounders, knuckleheads that are great for KOs and then the female characters who were my favourite as they’re super speedy and agile. While fighting is fun, you need the goals to win, and this is where they are key.

Climbing The Ranks

Matches are two vs two. If playing solo, you can have the game select the other player or you can do it manually, or, if you’re popular, play with a friend in the leagues.

Ok, so here is where it doesn’t fit the bill for me. While everything looks the part, movement is fairly slow – it’s responsive, it’s just that the players walk rather than run. Sure, you can use some weapons to close the gap, but there’s no sprint.

Next up is the goal-scoring element – it’s hit and miss. Ha! That wasn’t intentional. If you beat an opponent up, they get KO’d but respawn almost always in front of the goal, usually when you’ve just thrown the ball. If you do manage to beat their defence and the ball rebounds off the goal mouth, you can’t enter the goal area – there’s a force field, so you have to wait for the other team to get possession, then hit them to win it back.

I suppose the hardest thing for me was the button arrangement. Cross is kick, circle is punch – that’s fair enough. Pass is triangle, which I suppose would be the through ball for FIFA players, and square switches the player – which is probably better than the auto-switching I had set up at first.

Throwing The Toys Out

However, it’s the throw button that was unnatural for me. Being a product of 8-bit systems, I’m used to sports titles being either a quick tap of the button, or holding down for a power-up. The R2 button undoes a bit of motor memory, and I would prefer to have the choice to change the layout (not currently an option). 

With the throw button, you have to hold down for a more powerful throw, which coincidentally will knock out anyone in the way of it – a lot of fun! But, to get used to how the hypercurve works, you have to ready your thumb on the right stick for aftertouch. My issue was I’d accidentally throw the ball back, on two occasions scoring an own goal.

Hyperbrawl Tournament - Strikes
Lightning… strikes! Source: Milky Tea

The button configuration would be an improvement, for sure, but it’s the speed and the way the AI unfairly respawns in front of a goal. On the opposing side, as there isn’t a sprint, you might not get back in time, but that’s the nature of being KO’d. There’s a dive, but it doesn’t cover enough space, and more of a breakfall in martial arts.

One of the most annoying things about Hyperbrawl Tournament, which can be immediately remedied is the announcer. A bit like Smash TV, it was fun at first, but their lines are repeated endlessly: “You’re on fire, you’re literally on fire” was said about four times in one match, then “you’re flying, oh…” Suffice to say, I muted it. Other than this, the sound effects were good, as was the excellent score.

From my perspective, Hyperbrawl Tournament is a throwback title to when you could play competitive games with your friends locally, but with the added option of going online. That’s what you kids do now, right? I almost dismissed Gang Beasts until I played with the right people, and I see that happening with this game too. Only, I already like Hyperbrawl Tournament.

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