Switch owners have binged on a rich diet of sophisticated 2D platformers of late, and sometimes what's needed is a gaming palette cleanser before you dive back in. In that regard, Broforce is like an action-platforming sorbet in between meaty courses of Dead Cells and Hollow Knight. It's big, dumb, disposable fun in the best possible way.
You play the role of an '80s action movie caricature. Which one? Pretty much all of them, actually. As you run-and-gun from left to right, your pixel-art hero will encounter caged allies. Blast them free and they'll join your ranks. Not only will this gain you an extra life, but control will instantly switch to this new member, complete with a new set of characteristics. It's the nature of these playable characters that gives Broforce a large part of its brash charm. They're all based on well-known action movie characters, largely lifted from the genre's heyday in the '80s and '90s.
So there's Rambro, a clear take on Stallone's battle-weary 'nam vet, complete with an M60 machine gun and a stack of grenades. Or Bro Hard, essentially Die Hard's John McClane with twin sub-machine guns and flashbang grenades. Those are two of the least interesting protagonists, too. Mr. Anderbro is Neo from the Matrix by another name, with a deadly melee attack and the ability to defy gravity. Bro Dredd has homing bullets and a guidable warhead special. Bro In Black's tiny laser gun kicks like a mule - in both directions. And so on.
These characters unlock after a set amount of rescues, and you'll be revealing distinctive new Bros deep into your time with the game. Fortunately, Broforce has more than the novelty of its controllable characters on its side. Each level is a bullet-strewn run through a bunch of heavily-armed grunts, culminating in the messy assassination of a devil-like figure, and occasionally a hulking boss. The levels themselves are fairly simplistic, but where they impress is in their deformability. Coupled with the fact that they're unusually tall, you'll find that you can literally blast your own path through them, hewing out makeshift tunnels or just levelling a troublesome guard outpost. Explodable barrels sit there just waiting to be ignited, while bridges are only ever a few shots of your weapon away from total collapse.
If anything, the relentless action and easy access to total annihilation can grow a little wearisome. Broforce is a game to be played in short, sharp bursts, lest the one-note action grow too repetitive. Its controls can be a little finicky, too. While the weapon behaviour is both pleasantly varied and satisfyingly tactile, your character's movement feels a little clumsy. Navigating ladders and climbing sheer walls with your knife are a little too jittery for their own good, which can easily lead to silly deaths.
That becomes more pronounced as the action heats up and the bullets really start to fly. And believe us, they really do start to fly. The action gets even more hectic and destructive in a co-op mode for up to four players - something that seems perfectly at home on this Switch version. There's no denying Broforce's capacity to amuse and thrill in often ludicrous amounts. Its silly sense of humour (it's all played with a tongue-in-cheek, overtly macho tone) and crazy levels of action serve as the perfect filler between more substantial fare.
Broforce is a hilariously explosive 2D action-platformer with a memorable catch-'em-all cast of action movie caricatures. The action may be a little one-note, but when that note is as big and bold as it is here, you'll be all-too-willing to disengage your brain and engage your trigger finger. After playing through the seemingly unending series of critically-acclaimed, high-brow 2D action titles on Switch, this is the perfect way to unwind.