Rush Bros Review
Music is universally accepted as a medium for inspiration, emotional or intellectual expression, and (of course) entertainment. The gaming industry is no exception when it comes to using music to express itself, and XYLA Entertainment teams up with Digital Tribe to bring a music-oriented platform to PCs everywhere. Rush Bros is a side-scrolling platformer that lets you compete against other players while listening to all your favourite songs. Race to the finish line by playing solo or against an online friend in this fast-paced, music-infused 2D adventure!
Having a plot isn’t always important to a game, but the simple premise of Rush Bros gives a thorough baseline for your adventure. While there is no voice acting, the game makes it pretty easy to understand what’s going on. Two DJs (named Bass and Treble) have made the big time, and a rivalry forms between them to become the top dog that sprung from their original duo, before they decided to become their own solo acts. The creation of this conflict helps players imagine competing against their opponents or participating in time trials without adding too much fluff of a storyline into the mix.
Speaking of a mix, one of the most important and unique features of Rush Bros is the symbiotic relationship between the music and the levels. While you can import your own MP3s into the game via upload, it already comes with several dubstep and electronica beats that will give your ears a wonderful massage, and their beats will determine how fast the course will move. As an example, if you are listening to a faster-paced tune, the swinging of platforms will be quicker than when playing with songs that are slower.
Different paces can make the game easier or more difficult, and determining which it will be for each level comes down to trial and error. Where the musical game mechanic fails, however, is when it doesn’t pick up on the music that’s playing. When this happens, the level doesn’t move to the beat of whatever song you’re playing, and causes timing inconsistencies that can break your concentration, potentially ruining the experience for you. There were multiple levels that didn’t pick up on some of the downloaded MP3s, or even the tracks supplied from the game, and the flow was completely disjointed, forcing your character to jump off-beat just to stay alive. Hopefully this can be fixed over time, but many players will be turned off initially by this glitch. Adding to this audio issue, there is also a bit of a motion-oriented setback. PC gaming typically tries to lean more towards keyboard gaming, as not everyone owns a console. Unfortunately, for gamers who don’t have access to a controller, you will be left out when it comes to competitions online; in Rush Bros, the keyboard response is very sluggish, and makes your motions feel almost robotic. If you have a chance to try the game with a controller, however, it will up your experience tenfold.
The main menu lets you select Play, Options, My Music, or Extras. The audio and visual settings under Options are similar to most videogames and allow you to tweak resolution, sound levels, and more. My Music is where you can either select the Default Track or your Custom Track uploaded from your computer. Extras is simply social networking that takes you to the Rush Bros Twitter and Facebook feeds, or lets you view the credits. The main attraction (quite obviously) is Play. This menu gives you multiple options which are fairly straightforward: Arcade Mode, Same Screen Versus, Steam Multiplayer, and Leaderboards. Also of note, there are quite literally a dozen languages to choose from, which will change all of the menu and settings to the language of your preference. It’s a rare treat to see this level of diversity in the menu options, as language settings usually stop at two or three languages.
In-game, you’ll be tasked with racing from start to finish with the best time possible, and dying as infrequently as you can (so you don’t lose a second or two to a respawn), running and jumping your way through each course. The format is extremely simple, and you’ll have to overcome obstacles such as moving or dissolving platforms, spikes, or jumping over pits. Most of the levels are very straightforward and the puzzles are rudimentary, so once you get the hang of a level the first time through, it’s unlikely you will find it challenging on a subsequent playthrough. After a while, even with the higher levels delivering some more complexity with secret doors, or walking upside down, it starts to feel like the same run over and over again. This monotony detracts from the game’s replay value, and can make you lose interest quickly after the first play.
There are a couple ways to play alone, and Rush Bros tries to add a different type of mechanic to the playthrough through two options you can apply to tweak your level: Survival Mode and Fast Forward. Survival Mode spawns you at the beginning of the course if you die instead of spawning where you left off, and Fast Forward speeds up everything in the level. You’ll also notice that, like most racing games, when you replay a level you’ll see a ghost of your previous self completing the level, which will give you a better idea of what worked and what didn’t. These features can help you brush up on your skills for when you play online or with a friend, as it’s a one-on-one competition where the best memorizer wins, due to its time-based racing. The multiplayer can be done locally or online, and while you are playing against someone else, it doesn’t feel any different than playing by yourself. There will be power-ups during multiplayer (like a speed boost) to help add an edge to your competition, but in the end, knowing the level is what will give you the biggest advantage.
Neon seems to be the theme for a lot of games in this generation, and Rush Bros takes on this same tone by creating characters and level designs that are black with bright neon accents. A full rainbow of colour greets you with every step, and the background changes with each level in an attempt to bring you a more diverse feeling as you play. From ocean floor views, to tropical rainforest, to giant auditoriums with adoring fans in the crowd, there is no lack of variety with the backdrops! Unfortunately, the backgrounds don’t always fit properly, and some even move, which can be distracting as there are multiple moving objects in the foreground you’re trying to focus on. With the moving backgrounds and technicolour foregrounds, it can quickly become a dizzying experience. Nevertheless, the graphical quality itself is incredible, and mixes advanced scenery with a basic level template in a way that when you stop to admire, it is wonderful.
The developers try some new ideas in Rush Bros that moving forward could potentially become game changers, but this installment feels a little lackluster with a few of its flaws. That being said, if you want a game you can memorize and impress friends who are unfamiliar with the game, Rush Bros is the perfect platformer for you. Music lovers and DJs that are gamers will particularly enjoy playing with the settings and seeing what kind of ways they can challenge themselves with their own favourites or remixes! Rush Bros is available on Steam for $9.99, or $14.99 for the gift pack so you can have your own copy, and also gift the game to a friend!
Rush Bros receives a 4.25/5.0
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