Rush Bros began with an idea based on a Portal mod, but has turned into a platformer that integrates music and puzzles into a genuinely unique experience, while also attempting to integrate several multiplayer and community aspects to make it a worthwhile purchase.
The plot of Rush Bros tells the tale of two DJ brothers. At first, they were a huge success as a duo, but have since gone their separate ways. Whether or not they’ll reunite for another performance forms the basis for a story that, similarly to one of the games that influenced it, Super Mario Bros, serves a purpose to set the scene, but never feels important. It just gives you a reason to get from A to B.
The challenge between the two brothers is simply to be the best. You can play the game solo or in split-screen multiplayer. No matter which path you choose, your goal is similar: to finish the level first. Because the game doesn’t pick a traditional winner or loser, choosing certain conditions prior to starting can give you bragging rights. It tracks the number of deaths and other statistics to determine your “winner.” During the split-screen multiplayer, whoever gets ahead can lay additional traps for their unsuspecting opponent.
Music plays a major part in Rush Bros. In fact, the core of the gameplay is the use of musical tracks, with the beat of each track determining the pace of the levels. Playing a certain section of a level during a different musical track can make things easier or harder. A slow groove can help you avoid a spike trap, for instance, while a fast riff can make death almost insurmountable.
One of the best features of Rush Bros is the ability to import custom tracks from MP3 files on your computer’s hard drive to enhance the gameplay changes. Whether you are into Rock, Hip Hop, Smooth Jazz, or even Mozart, you can listen to your music while directly affecting the gameplay experience. This is a very unique feature and truly adds to Rush Bros platforming and puzzle-based mechanics. The game also includes several tracks that flow with the level design more fluidly.
If you decide to play solo, you should know that the game is pretty short. The 41 levels will last you 2-6 minutes a piece on the first playthrough. Of course, the game was built for replaying, as you’ll always be trying to beat your best time and decrease your number of deaths. Replaying a level will bring up a ghost of yourself from your previous attempt, and watching your own failures can be a good laugh. Hopefully, more levels will be added post-release. One issue I had was the single-player section is listed as arcade mode. Upon completing a level, it gives you only a few precious seconds to choose replay, next level, or level select. While the objective may have been to give an arcade feel, it is difficult to get your bearings immediately or reflect on your previous accomplishments.
The level design provides a good amount of fun and challenge. The combination of timing your jumps and navigating through traps will remind many of another recent challenging platformer, Super Meat Boy. Luckily, with an unlimited amount of deaths and each failure putting you back in a good place for success, you will finish every level, even if your statistics are a bit embarrassing. You can climb walls via the jumping and glide across sections. The glide becomes a particularly useful tool, given the smoothness of the controls. My biggest complaint was it had trouble on occasions recognizing my Xbox 360 controller when using it via USB. While the controller and inputs appeared in the edit controls, I found myself occasionally having to re-calibrate by changing them to the same input method to get all of them working correctly.
Puzzle elements to enhance the level design include finding keys to open doors and using levers. Coming across a locked door, you have to find the key to open, but the keys are really swirly coloured orbs. Obviously, the red orb opens the red door, the blue orb opens the blue door, and so on. Many levels, especially as you progress through the game, include multiple doors. There is one in particular that gives you three doors in the beginning and requires to find an orb, go back to the beginning then use the newly opened door to find the next orb. You then rinse and repeat to open the final door and finish the level. The levers in certain levels allow you to move obstacles and drop objects to open up your path.
Power Ups also provide an advantage. Many of them (like double jump and increased speed) seem influenced by power-ups from other games such as Sonic the Hedgehog. Double jump can be especially helpful in guiding you through more complex puzzles while speed ups are meant to help you gain that time edge.
Sound is obviously an important element of the game. Because you can add an endless variety of musical tracks to the game seamlessly, the soundtrack in Rush Bros. can be suited to your personal tastes. Of course, the track samples included offer different beats and keep the up with the frenetic gameplay better. Tracks can also be changed mid-level with the touch of a button allowing for a blissful musical experience.
As you can tell by the screenshots in the review, Rush Bros’ look and feel is very trippy, with a Tron-like art style. Levels all have a certain uniqueness, and you can customize your main character’s colour, and when they die he pixelates as a throwback to his 8-bit ancestors.
VERDICT: Rush Bros has some really fun level design and the challenge aspect makes it a worthwhile game to pick up. The biggest drawback is the length, even with such a low entry price. The biggest worry in recommending the game is that is so ripe for community challenges, a lack of friends or online foes to create an extended experience would hurt the overall enjoyment and, as yet, whether or not the online community is there remains to be seen. There is a really fun game in Rush Bros, but playing solo will eventually lose its luster. If the online community or worthwhile DLC materialise, Rush Bros. will definitely be worth picking up for your platforming fix.
GOOD. A game that scores 7/10 is worthy of note, but unworthy of fanfare. It does many things well, but only a few of them incredibly well and, despite a handful of good qualities, fresh ideas and solid mechanics, it fails to overwhelm.