Approximate Release Date: April 13, 1993
Brawl Brothers is a definite step up from its predecessor in most respects.
Given that it’s coming out in North America less than five months after Rival Turf, that wasn’t something I expected. Short turnarounds rarely mean a quality experience, as evidenced with True Golf Classics: Waialae Country Club and True Golf Classics: Pebble Beach Golf Links. Sure, these Jaleco brawlers came out in Japan earlier and with more time between them. It was still a worry, however unfounded.
It’s funny that the thing I liked most about Rival Turf – the easy difficulty – is gone here. Brawl Brothers is much more challenging. I was surprised when I jumped into the game and struggled against the first few waves. Turns out the default difficulty is set to hard for some reason, so once I turned it down it became more bearable.
Enemies take more hits to take down even on easy and this is made worse by how picky the game is about when hits connect. You have to be precisely on the same plane as your opponent. I spent a lot of time whiffing because I was a few pixels below where I needed to be, which would become most annoying when facing Brawl Brothers‘ fast-moving bosses (which are the three-of-five playable characters you don’t pick at the beginning of the game, making choosing a character more interesting than usual).
Because of all that, the levels in Brawl Brothers go on forever. The first stage has a sewer section that went on for long enough that I was worried I was in a Lost Woods-style nightmare. It turns out I was, in fact, running around in circles. Putting alternate paths through levels in a brawler is a cool idea that you don’t see in many other games, but this felt a little too much like a mean trick.
On the plus side, the graphics are much improved. The characters look better and are more animated, and backgrounds actually have dynamic elements! The first stage of Brawl Brothers feature sections where a helicopter in the background that fires at you while you fight and running sewer water that will float health items across the screen. Minor, but nice to see.
Otherwise, Brawl Brothers is clearly a direct continuation of Rival Turf. Even though there are some aspects to Rival Turf that I prefer, they’re minor. Brawl Brothers is far and away the superior game because the little tweaks and additions to the game add up. I can’t think of a reason for most people to play the older game.
Tomorrow(?): I’m feeling under the weather right now, but hopefully in the next day or two I’ll be taking a look at Battle Grand Prix! I hope I get to shoot some turtle shells at some F1 cars.