After a long break for the holidays, we’re starting off 2013 by looking at XYLA Entertainment’s new platformer Rush Bros. A bit of a departure from the big studio titles we usually review, Rush Bros takes the tried and tested formula of 2D platforming and adds its own twists, mainly revolving around multiplayer action and music. Does it work out? Read on for our take on this novel approach to platform games.
Rush Bros’ main appeal is its multiplayer mode, and it’s nothing like the coop multiplayer modes we’ve seen in other (3D) platformers. In Rush Bros, you and a friend will find yourselves racing (or rather, rushing) through the levels in order to set the fastest time, trying to hinder or even destroy your opponent in the process. The concept sounds incredibly simple, and it is. Simplicity in game is often a recipe for addictive gameplay though, and Rush Bros is no exception. That’s multiplayer Rush Bros though, for the single player mode feels awkwardly lacking in comparison. The actual platforming is basic enough to allow novice players to still compete in multiplayer, but without the competitive element the single player mode feels a little too basic and shallow. There is no storyline to drive you forward, and the puzzles aren’t as clever as we’ve seen other recent indie platform games like Might & Delight’s Pid.
Split-screen multiplayer is where Rush Bros shines though, as racing your friend for the top time or keeping him from beating your time with a last ditch effort feels both fun and rewarding. The first few levels are very straightforward, but later levels become increasingly complex and really up the level of challenge. This adds for a lot of potential in terms of dramatic turnarounds, but also makes it harder for a lesser-skilled platform gamer to compete. Pick your level carefully to keep things fun if you find this being the case.
Rush Bros also adds music as a real gameplay element, something I first saw (and LOVED!) in Audiosurf. For those unfamiliar with that title, Audiosurf takes your favorite songs, turns them into a waveform and then you “surf” that waveform in 3D while the song plays, speeding up and slowing down as the song does. Rush Bros applies a similar concept to platforming, because playing upbeat songs will have platforms in the game move around a lot quicker whereas a slow song makes for a more mellow experience. It’s a fun and novel touch, but don’t expect major differences when playing the same level again with different music. My main issue with the musical feature, however, is that the level design doesn’t always work in the game’s favor here. Where even a simple pop song is usually at least 3 minutes long, many of the game’s level’s are much shorter than that. If you pick a longer song, you might still be listening to the intro when you cross the finish line. The game’s inclusion of your own music catalogue would therefore have benefited from longer levels, because inserting your own songs only to have them cut off feels like a missed opportunity.
Still, Rush Bros is an accessible game that offers a new twist on an old concept, and provides a lot of fun in short bursts. It’s not without faults, but platforming fans looking for a challenge beyond completing a storyline or collecting everything in the game could do much worse than check out XYLA’s latest. The game is average at best when played in single player (and that is probably still generous), but becomes a unique and fun experience when playing with a friend. The game’s graphics are colorful and well done, the music tracks that come with the game work very well (which wasn’t always the case with my catalogue of ‘real’ music) and in the end the package comes together very nicely. If both platforming and competitive gaming appeal to you, check out the multiplayer demo at http://www.myxyla.com/games/rush-bros
Note: XYLA has also announced that they hoping to have Rush Bros greenlit on Steam, enabling them to add more features to the game including extra levels and new game mechanics. This review might receive an update to reflect the game’s status when those updates are added.