When first hearing about this game and seeing it in action, I was expecting a goofy, quickly made indie game meant to make a quick buck of a silly title. But I was wrong for sure. Brief Battles, by Juicy Cupcake, is a well polished, surprisingly diverse party game with a wonderful amount of content to eat up in a group or alone. The gameplay is very strong in some ways, but a little off in others.
There isn’t one. A group of random egg shaped people who don’t wear pants are fighting each other with fire balls and metal underwear. But do we really need a story? Nope. The game would probably lose some value if a story was pushed into it. The single player modes are just various types of challenges and a ladder of difficult but fair challenges.
This is actually where Brief Battles is the most controversial in its ability to deliver well. This is a 2D battle platform in game. It will look like and feel like Towerfall and Super Smash Brothers initially, but the core gameplay is very different, and that is good and bad.
First, the good things. There is a large variety of things to do, various challenge modes that can be tackled with multiple people or single player. There are endless bad guys to fight and the scale of difficulty in those modes goes very high. There are a HUGE number of stages with different hazards and floor types that keep the matches fresh and fun. The different underwear that can be used is good and keeps the matches feeling fast and entertaining. The underwear powers can only be used horizontally, so those used to Towerfall or even Smash will have a bit of difficulty getting used to the mostly horizontal fighting when throwing fireballs, ice or poison. However, the horizontal fighting does simplify the actual battling, making more appropriate for a younger crowd. Each power has varying damage and usage, freezing people, range, better defense, a charge time and so on. Overall it is very fun to play and feels good to attack your friends and enemies.
Okay, now for the not so great stuff, which is mostly just the jumping mechanic. I played a lot of this game, and I never fully got used to or enjoyed the jumping. You have a standard jump button that can be pressed a second time for a double jump. Or there is a second jump button, a super jump, that can be pressed and used to jump higher than the other double jump, but one can only use this super jump when touching the ground. The question I have is, why? Why make the level need to to use the super jump, and double jumps at different times? Just make the maps shorter, or the super jump more impactful and be a charged up jump, either way, it comes off as unnatural a slightly frustrating. This makes some sense for a platforming adventure game, but in the heat of battle, having two jumps or not being able to do certain things because of mixing up jumps, it just doesn’t ever feel good.
This is probably the most consistent and highest quality part of the game. I was surprised with the quick animations, vibrant colors and lively character designs. Each of the six characters have one alternative outfit which can be collected by finishing certain levels of the challenges. The various enemies and character designs all coexist well and bring the cartoony brawler to life.
The sound design is good. The music gets slightly repetitive through all the maps, but overall it is a good mix for hours of play time. The sound effects are standard for the enemies and “brief” attacks, but the individuals don’t have any real voice other than some added “ows” and “arghs” when they get hit, which is kind of a missed opportunity because of the flushed out look of the characters.
This is a game with a fairly long life span for sure. It isn’t really a game that is meant for long single player slogs for days or weeks at a time, but it will keep friends and families entertained for an hour or so every few weeks or during parties and hang outs. Between the many levels, challenges and entertaining battles, this is a solid party game to have in your library when there is some time to kill.
What It Could Have Done Better
There isn’t much to complain about in the game. I mentioned previously that the jump system and horizontal battling makes the game a little awkward to play initially, but for children or those who are just looking to have some simple fun it won’t really matter.
Brief Battles is a well put together piece of entertainment that suffers from some platforming issues for more hardcore players that want more precise control. The plethora of levels with silly antics will keep the game fresh and fun for all ages.