(Super Nintendo)

Brawl Brothers (Super Nintendo)

Game Review

Brawl Brothers Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Damien McFerran

Sibling rivalry

Jaleco released a trilogy of side-scrolling fighters in Japan under the Rushing Beat banner, and while all three made their way to the west, they did so under different titles: Rival Turf, Brawl Brothers and The Peace Keepers. Inspired in no small part by the success of Capcom's Final Fight, the series never really managed to reach the same level of acclaim and commercial success — largely thanks to some sloppy gameplay and generally goofy presentation.

Brawl Brothers — known in Japan as Rushing Beat Ran - Fukusei Toshi — attempts to improve on its forerunner by offering more characters and a wider variety of enemy types. As you might expect, the general idea is to beat senseless any character who is foolish enough to waltz into the proximity of your knuckles, and in keeping with the genre, there's little deviation from that core objective throughout the game's lifespan.

Like Final Fight and Streets of Rage, your character has a punch combo, a leaping attack and a special move, the latter of which depletes your health bar when used. You can also grapple with enemies and throw them across the screen. In a nod to Streets of Rage, it's possible to grab a foe from behind, which results in a slightly different attack. Double-tapping a direction results in your fighter breaking into a spring, and a press of the attack button executes a dashing attack. Finally, there's a taunt command, but this is purely for show and has little practical use.

While the range of available fighters is a welcome addition, none of the characters in the game come close to matching the likes of Cody, Haggar, Axel or Blaze when it comes to personality. It doesn't help that the characters often end up looking a bit silly in motion. For example, Hack's walking animation makes him look like he's sliding along the floor — in fact, if you tap gently in a particular direction it's possible to have him glide along the screen without moving a muscle — a totally ridiculous spectacle. This floaty control system doesn't help when you're trying to take down bad guys, and is mitigated by some particular stingy hit detection. It's possible to unleash your special attack on a large group of opponents and see it pass clean through several of them, leaving you open and vulnerable.

Brawl Brothers does have some original ideas — such as an "Angry" mode which makes your fighter invincible when they take a certain amount of damage, and the way in which life-restoring food can be picked up and carried, allowing you to choose when to consume it — but the game is so incredibly dull at times that it's almost impossible to build up any excitement or interest. The levels seem to go on forever, and although set-pieces try to spice things up — such as the first level's helicopter attack — the results are rarely effective enough to get your pulse racing. The title is enlivened by its two-player mode, but even then you and your co-fighter will grow tired after a short while.

Conclusion

You might assume that making a successful side-scrolling fighter is as easy as falling off a log, but Jaleco's SNES-based efforts prove otherwise. Brawl Brothers seems to tick every box — it has a two-player mode, five different fighters and a respectable selection of moves to utilize. However, the execution is all wrong. The controls feel loose and floaty, and the hit detection requires enemies to be directly in front of you to register a connection. However, Brawl Brothers commits possibly the most heinous crime for this type of game: it lacks imagination and flare, and that means that slogging through its uninspiring levels is a largely thankless task that only hardcore fans of the genre should consider undertaking.

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User Comments (16)

Shiryu

#2

Shiryu said:

Ah, Jaleco... hit & miss on lots of their games, but I have to give it to them: they tried, they really did try hard!

sinalefa

#5

sinalefa said:

I got this one at my brother's request, mostly for nostalgia reasons.

We even got a game breaking bug at the second stage. The enemies are very cheap overall, particularly bosses. You can have some mindless fun, but the Final Fight games, also available on Wii U, are way better.

WanderFan91

#6

WanderFan91 said:

If you had reviewed the Japanese version (via code), I'd bet that you would've given it a much higher score ('cause I looked up that there were various changes made for the worst in the American version). In my opinion, Rushing Beat Ran- Fukusei Toshi (only played the Japanese version) is an incredibly fun beat'em up, an 8 at best! :)

Now, it's not flawless. Yes, the collision detection is hit and miss when it comes to some of the bosses and a few enemies (but it can be worked around), the character and enemy designs are incredibly goofy, the playable characters have mostly got questionable fashion tastes (seriously, what is Rick Norton even wearing over his jeans, boots or are they elongated socks? And really Kazan, you're a green ninja wearing red shoes? Someone has clearly flunked ninja school), the third stage is a bit long in the tooth, and the plot (if there is one) makes no sense. :|

Now I will say the things I did like about the game; it feels so refreshing to play the second chapter of the beat'em up series where your characters can rush, and as a result it's faster-paced. I thought it was ingenious how the first three bosses you fight are characters you could've chosen but didn't, that is clever. The comic-book like "crash" and "spak" starbursts (not that they make sense in how they're used) that appear whenever contact is made does give this game personality. Yes, it does have the appearance of a generic beat'em up (in terms of visuals), but I liked the environments and the little touches they had here and there (just check out the reflection of the windowed light in the ground in the gym portion of Stage 3, or how about the Mode 7 arena where you fight evil Kazan). The soundtrack I thought was decent at best, and the final stage's theme is actually my favorite song of the bunch (which is reused in the subsequent game, yay). The gameplay is really good and fleshed out, and because the enemies can be hit even when they're on the ground it makes it a more playable and enjoyable experience for me personally (give this game some credit, it's more fair here than it was in Secret of Mana when it happened there). There is also lots of replay value in terms of difficulty and who the first three bosses you want to be are, and the final villain looks suave (I also got a kick out of those in-between stage intermissions with the Street Fighter II-like profiles and the dialogue). Also, what other beat'em up lets you throw a pair of weights in one stage and (depending on who you choose to play as) kick enemies in the crotch (but only in the Japanese version)?

I do understand why this game gets flak from many, I honestly do. It's one of those games that sadly are a victim of "compare it and hate it" department. For me personally, I love it and treat it as a game on its own! :) If people hate it, that's fine; different strokes for different folks, to each their own. It's no Streets of Rage 2, but it's 100% better and more fun than Final Fight 2 will ever be in my book (which got the same score here, and I respectfully disagree with this game's 5 that it got but understand why you would've come to that conclusion). The last title in the trilogy Rushing Beat Shura (ironically named The Peace Keepers in the West) is good, in my opinion, but nowhere near as good as this one.

SteveRVGFANATIC

#7

SteveRVGFANATIC said:

^ Yo Starboy! WHAT UP MAN!
I signed up on NintendoLife just to comment on your comment. THANK YOU for stating it so well. I agree 100% with your take on why you like Brawl Brothers. I like it so, and exactly for the reasons you stated. I can see why it gets flak from others, but it's definitely better than Final Fight 2 IMHO. Well stated, my e-friend :)

WhiteTrashGuy

#8

WhiteTrashGuy said:

I miss those days. I could see me and some chaps renting it over a weekend. Now everything is on-line multiplayer and by-mail rentals. Kids today are missing out.

SheldonRandoms

#9

SheldonRandoms said:

The Miiverse community keeps complaining that this game is a Super Smash Bros. rip-off.

.......No, really, they do, I mean really.

retro_player_22

#10

retro_player_22 said:

I still have this game and to me it's a really fun beat em up, I'm glad to own the entire Rushing Beat trilogy (Rival Turf, Brawl Brothers, The Peace Keepers), even though the series isn't as popular as TMNT 4, Battletoads, Super Double Dragon and the Final Fight games they are still awesome games exclusive to Super NES.

Tasuki

#11

Tasuki said:

When I always played this game I would play the Japanese version using the in game code.

meppi

#12

meppi said:

While it might not be on the same level as Final Fight and Streets of Rage or even Double Dragon, I do have a big soft spot for Rival Turf.
But for whatever reason never got the sequels. Nice surprise to see this one on the eshop. Will pick this up very soon.

Ryno

#15

Ryno said:

I just picked up a rare cmplete copy for my SNES and I like it!

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