Rush Bros

Some of the best games in recent memory have taken two genres and smashed them together into one cohesive experience. Beat Hazard and Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes are two come immediately to mind combining rhythm and twin-stick shooting, and puzzles with a role-playing game respectively. Not only was the mash-up attempt made, but they were done well.

Rush Bros. attempts to do something similar by a taking a side-scrolling platformer, focusing on racing, and sprinkling in some elements that are controlled by the rhythm of the games music. Unfortunately, the resulting game is not quite as thrilling as XYLA Entertainment and Digital tribe would have hoped.

The saddest thing about Rush Bros. is that, in theory, it could have been a great game. Rhythm-based platforming has been executed very well in the past, but the big problem with Rush Bros. is that it tries to make you think its focus is music, but really it’s not. It includes music in the design only in the most superficial of manners.

As one of the titular DJ brothers, you are tasked with running, jumping and sliding to the goal as quickly as possible. There is no shortage of levels in this game with over forty, and you come across the typical platformer traps in each lever like pools of acid and beds of spikes. Some of these even react to the music that is playing, but these traps are few and far between.

The music-reacting traps are also frustrating because they do not seem to know what they should be doing. At times they seem like they follow the beat of the song, and other times they follow the melody. And even other times, it is never clear which portion of the music is governing their mayhem.

To further demonstrate how little thought was actually dedicated to integrate music into this game, the music just abruptly stops when you finish a level. You are sent back to the menu without any sort of transition. Also, what could have been one of the coolest features of the game got completely left out in the cold and seems as though it was never fully developed. Of course I am talking about using your own soundtrack.

The included music is okay, but can be obnoxious at times. Rush Bros. does include the ability to import tracks from a hard drive, but the system seems clunky. You can’t load individual tracks; really if you decide to load any track it then loads all tracks located in that folder. I attempted to see if it could load a playlist, but it either doesn’t do that or I just couldn’t figure it out.

With only a surface level focus on music, Rush Bros. is definitely more of a platformer than anything. This is great, or would be, but it’s really not that great of a platformer either. The levels are enormous and the camera is too tight on the character for a game about racing. You spend more time trying to figure out where to go and what to do than anything else. During the course of figuring this out, you may find a few power ups sprinkled through the levels, but as it is not 100% clear when the effects end, these could be death traps waiting to happen.

Rush Bros. doesn’t do a very good job at helping you learn game mechanics either; for that matter, most information is badly conveyed. It took me nearly an hour of playing to realize my player could slide, and yet I still didn’t understand it’s value until a second go around with the game had come, with plenty more time passing during that session as well. I didn’t even know about the charged high jump until I talked with a friend about the game. There is no point in this game where it tells you of these abilities.

Graphics are all over the place too. There is not a single universal theme to the levels on the game, with some levels looking drastically different than others. This can actually work in Rush Bros. favor, giving a freshness to each level, but it makes a coin-toss like situation. Sometimes you will see beautiful, engrossing artwork in the backgrounds, other it will be boring and unattractive.

Single player in Rush Bros. is basically a set of time trials. There is also split-screen and online co-op multiplayer available; however, there is no pretty much no interaction between players. This makes it feel more like you are racing against a pre-recorded ghost than a real person. The only real interaction with the other player is that the power ups that would normally give you extra abilities like super speed or double jump become “power downs” for your opponent like flipping the controls or zooming the camera in closer.

Overall, I just didn’t feel Rush Bros. was fun to play. The platforming is a step above boring, the multi-player doesn’t feel like multi-player, and the rhythm-based elements seem like the developers forgot they were making a rhythm game and threw it in at the last minute. The idea for a platformer to run on a custom soundtrack, and reacts to said soundtrack, is one of the best ideas I have heard in a while. Unfortunately, Rush Bros. does a poor job at executing this and ends up disappointing.

1 out of 5 stars.