Brawl is a very odd little game. One that is quite obviously influenced by the classic Bomberman series, but tries to carve out its own path by introducing new concepts and a darker tone. I’m going to be honest, it works to some extent, but it isn’t needed.
I can’t think of many people that would say “Y’know, Bomberman needs to be remixed with murderous clowns, blind girls controlled by bears and with the aesthetic of a bad Saw sequel”. The ideas are sound; Bomberman-style arenas with patrolling AI that can be killed with bombs, also boosted with range pick-ups.
There’s a story for every character and they each come with unique abilities to adjust play styles. Girl has the ability to throw a knife and teleport to its position, meaning sneaking around is a little easier. Sad Clown has a sneeze which moves bombs around, Puppet Mistress can stop enemies in their tracks with a Medusa-like gaze. Lastly, there’s Dummy who can remote detonate his bombs. There are four more characters to unlock, which gives the game legs, but you will need to buy into the premise and the style.
Brawl looks okay with a dank style that does have an intense atmosphere accompanied by a soundtrack that hopes to spook the player. But it has no heart, at all. It’s all very clinical and dull. It’s a game we don’t need. Had the developers created a straight up facsimile of the classic with bright cartoon visuals – they could have kept the darkness of the world and characters – it would be a lot more enigmatic. It would have charm and personality.
Aside from the story, there are local multiplayer and challenge modes. The latter does offer some really interesting game types like a horde mode, a boss challenge and a type that asks you to protect a flock of sheep. But, for me at least, I didn’t find any urge to pick up my Switch and play Brawl. This could have been a great game, but it tries to sell players something that we’ve already seen done much better and a style that just doesn’t merge all that well with the idea.