Rush Bros., a side-scrolling platformer, is the debut title from independent label XYLA Entertainment and a fresh attempt to redefine the long standing genre. Utilizing some devious level design, Rush Bros. challenges players to get through stages as fast as possible and with as few deaths as possible, in attempt to do it better than your friends. That in itself is not much of a change from every other side-scroller ever made, however Rush Bros. integrates a soundtrack that subtly influences how the game is played and an actual competitive multiplayer mode that turns things on its heel.
As a single player experience Rush Bros. is quite good. Fans of platformers will enjoy the 30 uniquely designed levels, many of which will pose a fun challenge to even the best of players. Much along the lines of something like Super Meat Boy, Rush Bros. can be punishing but completing a difficult level is a euphoric experience that will hook players and keep them playing through each and every level. Unfortunately, while the game has a phenomenal gameplay hook, the levels can be blown through in relatively short order and the best of players will be able to easily finish everything in under an hour.
What may keep some people playing though is the soundtrack of the game. Not necessarily because it is phenomenal, although the four tracks included are, but because each song subtly changes the way a level is played, forcing jumps and slides to be timed to the beat of the music or else an untimely death will very likely occur. Additionally the game boasts the ability to set levels to one’s own custom soundtrack, unfortunately I was never able to get this feature to work and even if I did, I am not sure my mix of 80s hair metal would have made for an interesting gameplay experience. Regardless the included tracks work great and ultimately feel perfectly suited to the title and the only complaint about them would be that their just are not enough and things start to repeat as you play through.
However for as good as the game plays single player, it was clearly designed around a competitive multiplayer experience and when you can find someone to play, it is an exhilarating twist on the genre. When I was a kid, I would sit around a television with friends attempting to race through games like Super Mario Bros. and Ninja Gaiden. Doing it the fastest, with the highest score and least amount of deaths was paramount to victory and Rush Bros. captures this experience perfectly with the added benefits of being able to do it in real time and with power-ups to screw up one’s opponent. For as good as it is, people need to be playing it and unless you have a friend handy to play right next to you, you might be waiting a while for a match to come about.
Rush Bros. is a ton of fun and offers a great experience for fans of the genre. The musical and multiplayer aspects add a level of depth to the title might not have been their otherwise. However even so the game suffers from its incredibly short length. Playing through the levels again to shave off seconds and deaths is great but not as great as more new levels would have been. As such, despite being so good at what it does, it is hard to fully recommend Rush Bros. unless you can convince another friend to play it with you.
Review Note: A copy of the game was provided for review by the publisher.