Rush Bros Review: Rushed and Flawed
Rush Bros is astonishly average.
That’s not to say it isn’t fun. The game has a base appeal by virtue of being a fast-paced platformer, after all. However, there is nothing done in Rush Bros that hasn’t been seen in other, better-made games. If you are starved for your next platforming fix, then it might be a good choice, but it’s otherwise unremarkable.
I can’t help but get a sense of deja vu from it. It’s heavier on the music and has competitive play, but the base concept – race to the goal as fast as possible – has been seen so many times before. Super Meat Boy and RunMan in particular seem to be Rush Bros’ immediate inspirations, as both titles are heavy on the speedrunning. While the game is a little slower, it is very, very focused on platforming, and leaves all other distractions by the wayside.
Rush Bros, as far as platforming goes, is the genre standard. Nothing more, nothing less. You can jump, walljump, and slide, and you can get power-ups that increase your speed or allow you to double jump, among other abilities. There are level hazards such as spikes, pits, doors, and springs. It’s all so very average, and it’s difficult to get excited about the game when the core mechanics have been stale for decades. There has to be some gimmick – some mechanic that sets a game apart from the competition – to make platformers great, and it’s missing here.
Well, not missing, but not really notable either.
Rush Bros’ special mechanic is that music is directly tied to levels. Level elements, such as hazards or paltforms, move in time to the beat. Players can either listen to the default soundtrack – which is quite good, in all fairness – or create their own playlist. Songs can be switched in the middle of the level, if you so please, but it causes a brief hiccup, so it’s best not to do so.
While tying game mechanics to music is a regular practice, the problem with the game is that it doesn’t do anything with the musical ties. Levels are static and unchanging, so all changing music does is change some background elements. There is no significant impact on the player, and for a game that touts itself as a music-based platformer, that’s a major misstep.
Without a major selling point to act as a hook, Rush Bros falls flat. In comparison, other indie platformers tend to do quite well in terms of design. Super Meat Boy had truly outstanding levels and an emphasis on speed and precision. Where it succeeded over Rush Bros was in its brevity; each level in Super Meat Boy was very short, which allowed the player greater variety of play. Likewise, RunMan is only really about running really fast and getting to the end quickly. However, it strikes out on its own with a unique art style, fluid controls, and an emphasis on maintaining momentum.
It’s unfortunate to say that platformers need gimmicks to do well, but it’s true. Players want novelty from games – especially games that supposedly incorporate music into the mechanics – and a game that is so completely standard in its implementation doesn’t excite anymore. The only way you can truly overcome this is by making some excellent levels, and Rush Bros doesn’t have that; not to say the levels are bad, just that they aren’t outstanding either. With no gimmick and no stand-out levels, Rush Bros is simply tepid.
The game’s other major selling point is multiplayer. Rush Bros desperately wants you to directly compete with other racers, going so far as to make multiplayer always on by default. I can appreciate the intention, but having multiplayer foisted onto the player immediately – and requiring you turn it back to solo every time you exit to the main menu – is a hassle. As for the mechanics, it’s exactly the same as the main game, only whoever reaches the end first wins; the loser is crushed in a machine the winner activates. There are power-ups scattered around the courses to negatively affect your opponents, but the core concept remains totally unchanged, and all playing multiplayer does is screw up a potentially great speedrun time.
Despite just how average Rush Bros is, it does have a great art style. The neon-soaked, club-referenced artwork is a pleasure to look at, as long as you aren’t epileptic. Animations are a little on the clunky side, but serve their purpose effectively and without too much fuss. It’s a lovely-looking 2D game. It’s unfortunate that that’s all the game has going for it.
Unfortunately, not much else can be said. Rush Bros is a thoroughly mediocre platformer. The best reason to purchase it is, in fact, the soundtrack, which is probably worth the price of admission. If you buy it looking for an innovative platformer or exciting music game, you will be disappointed.
- Excellent music
- Cool art style
- Competently made
- Drop-in multiplayer
- No depth
- Multiplayer always on by default
- Average level design
Final Score: 60/100
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