Rush Bros.


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Complete Review & Description

If you’re familiar with Trackmania: Nations you may find a certain appeal in Rush Bros. Admittedly, the comparison isn’t obvious at first, but it’s the closest I’ve come to adequately comparing Rush Bros. to anything. They’re both fast-paced experiences, trial-and-error based, and usually only one mistake destroys your entire progress. The main difference is that Trackmania is fun and addictive, whereas Rush Bros. is frustrating and feels oddly empty.

“It’s difficult to achieve any kind of flow while playing, as it is broken every time you mistime a jump, which happens quite often.”Essentially, it’s a rhythm platforming game. There isn’t backstory of note, although the game’s intro does tell us that it takes place in an alternate world, where two DJ brothers are forced to compete in a series of tracks to reach the end, avoiding a host of deadly traps in the process. It doesn’t really matter that there isn’t much of a story to care about, because the game is all about the competitive aspect. While it can be played alone, the competitive multoplayer is where the game excels.
One thing that the game nails is the music – a requirement for a successful rhythm game – with its pumping electronic tunes. Even if you wouldn’t normally enjoy this type of music, it still serves the game well as it’s fast-paced and intense, and provides a proper background for what’s happening on screen. The quality of the tracks is uneven though, with some great ones among a large amount of run-of-the-mill dance tracks. It also ties in well with the difficulty. For example, spikes that appear periodically from the ground will protrude in temp with the music. It succeeds as a rhythm game in this regard, because there’s an actual visual and physical response to the beats. You can also add your own music to the soundtrack if you so desire. I’d recommend using something in the same vein as the game’s music. Listening to indie weltschmerz won’t really fit the theme.
“It’s surprisingly fun to get struck by a blackout, forcing you jump through the level in darkness, or getting your control scheme reversed.”As a platformer, though, it fails, and takes some of the positive rhythm aspects down with it. It’s difficult to achieve any kind of flow while playing, as it is broken every time you mistime a jump, which happens quite often. It’s quite hard to judge how far you need to jump to get over an obstacle – such as a bunch of spikes – which results in untimely deaths. Couple this with a very uneven amount of checkpoints, and you have a recipe for frustration. It’s also really, really easy to accidentally step into a spike because of finicky controls. Even after you think you’ve stopped moving your character, he will keep moving just a few inches into a spike, which is enough to send you several sections backwards. Games like this are dependent on the player getting back into the action quickly, so it’s puzzling that the developer, XYLA, have decided to make it so frustrating. Knowing that you have to get past two or three dangerous places before you can reach the place you died, is enough to make you want to quit the game.
A unique aspect of the game is the amount of powerups. They can either aid – like the ones that give you the ability to double-jump or increase your speed – or they can hinder your opponents progress. The latter ones are the most interesting, as they alter the gameplay radically. It’s surprisingly fun to get struck by a blackout, forcing you jump through the level in darkness, or getting your control scheme reversed. It’s not a revolutionary idea, but it adds a bit of flavor to what would otherwise be a dull experience. However, because both players are bound to pass by these during their playthrough, it becomes a bit predictable. You know that when you’ve used the blackout power-up, you’ll receive the same treatment moments later. This could have been mixed up a bit more, for example by having the player being able to save them and use them at strategic moments, like in Mario Kart or something similar. As it is now, you have to use them the second you pick them up.

“A lot of the time you’re just running randomly around, hoping your opponent knows where to go so you can follow him.”The quality of the level design is uneven. It reminds me of Super Meat Boy as much of your time is spent gliding off walls, and timing your jumps to avoid saws and spikes. Particularly the “climbing” aspect – where you jump up vertical walls – are comparable. But where Super Meat Boy had impeccable level design, where every moment was nerve-racking, and thoroughly play-tested to make sure it was still fair, Rush Bros. has very uneven design. Some levels are very distinct, especially the ones that are divided up by color, such as one that’s built up entirely by jumping platforms that send your character flying across the level. It’s dizzying – in the good way.
Many levels, though, are so long and open-ended that you have no idea where you’re supposed to go. A lot of the time you’re just running randomly around, hoping your opponent knows where to go so you can follow him. In Super Meat Boy, you always knew what to do – even if it took some time to figure out how to do it. There are also several instances where it suffers from downright insufficient testing. For example, there are some places where it’s extremely difficult to progress – if the power-up you were forced to use when you picked it up – has expired. Most of these places you have to restart if you have any hope of beating the level. This is frustrating when you want to achieve flow.
It’s primarily an online experience – and that’s also where it’s best – although I found it difficult to find players online and there’s local split-screen for those times. That’s to be expected from a small indie title, but what frustrates me is how difficult it actually is to start a singleplayer game. You’ll sometimes be forced into a lobby, forcing you to go back to the main menu. Even though the focus is multiplayer, it’s odd that XYLA have decided to negate having a single player menu at all.
Visually, it reminds me a bit of Tron. The primary color used is black, with other colors lain over it. It gives a futuristic feeling, as if you’re moving around in a digital landscape where all the aforementioned things are possible. It also serves to clearly highlight which objects are dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. The contrasts in color also make your surroundings seem very varied, as you for instance move from areas dominated by green, into areas that are entirely blue. The audiovisual elementare the most enjoyable things about this title.

It does show a couple original ideas, but they’re never fully executed, and it’s full of small, annoying bugs that sour the experience. Of course, Rush Bros. was never intended to be a revolutionary title – it’s merely a distraction – and that’s totally fine, however even as a distraction it fails. The level design and controls are simply too frustrating to zone out to. I’m sure some can find enjoyment in it, but it requires that you stomach some frustrating flaws.



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