Review: LEGO Brawls

So it seems that everybody and their mom is trying to make their spin on one of the best-selling and well-known (fighting) games in the entire gaming industry, Super Smash Bros. which sold around 69.79 million copies worldwide, which puts it in the top 40th game franchises of all time. Smash Bros is arguably the biggest gaming crossover of all time.

This success has led to other companies trying to do the same with their franchises. These are games like Dream Mix TV World Fighters & Digimon Rumble Arena from the early 2000s, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale from 2012 too more recently the big boom of these types of games like Rivals of Aether, Multiversus and Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl. And now Lego steps up to the plate with, LEGO Brawls. The question however remains, is it a bootleg copy filled with problems or is there actually something worthwhile to it all?

 

 

What is a Platform Fighter?

To begin to explain with LEGO Brawls is about, let’s start at the basics of what a Platform fighter is. The platform fighter is a subgenre within Fighting games that started being a thing after so many companies copied the gameplay style of Smash Bros. The gameplay of platform fighters revolves around fights taking place on a 2D stage with a focus on movement like in a traditional platformer game. In general, the purpose of the game is either to knock your opponent off the stage or make their health bar hit zero, with the former being the most common

 

Gameplay and modes

In Lego Brawls the latter is this case. A big difference compared to Smash Bros, is that Lego Brawls is more 50/50 between being team based and single-player. One other difference here is that there are unique challenges and win conditions depending on the game mode you choose to play.

In Control the point the objective is to work together with a team to control the point. A meter will fill up the longer you stay on. Fill the meter completely to win. This mode is played in 2 teams of 4 players.

In Collect mode, you will team up to collect bricks in order to win. Depleting your opponent’s health bar will make them lose bricks for you to take. This mode is played in 2 teams of 4 players. This is somewhat reminiscent of the Coin Battle mode of previous Smash Bros. games.

In Brawl Royale you will play solo instead of with a team. Here you battle with up to 8 players, the player who defeats the most opponents within a certain time limit will be crowned the winner.

The mode Free-for-brawl is an elimination-based mode. Be the last figures standing to win. This is also an 8-player mode.

For all these modes, CPU opponents are added when not enough players are available. It’s however not clear which are bots and which are real players. I personally don’t like this because I don’t play Online to be in a match with more CPU players than real ones.

Play with friends cross-platform, at home or around the world and see how you stack up against the competition. Sadly Free-for-brawl is the only mode supported in local play, the other game modes can however be enjoyed with or against friends online.

 

Basic combat, just like the essence of LEGO

The combat is a little different too. The gameplay is way more basic and aimed, obviously, at a young audience. Lego Brawls is not based on 1v1 competitive battles where movement, spacing, frame data and hitboxes are the name of the game. The game uses a basic combat system with your standard movement like running and jumping. This is coupled with dashing and a ground pound (fast fall) to move faster from left to right and up to down accordingly. When in range of an opponent this is coupled with a hitbox/attack. The other attacks you can do are melee attacks, which are fast attacks performed with one button press.

Special attacks can be performed when collecting a power-up. These moves, as suggested are stronger than your standard melee moves. Power-ups are collected by attacking power-up cubes to break them open. This power-up will take the slot of your melee weapon once activated (in most cases). Power-ups run out after a certain time or number of uses. After this, your melee weapon of choice is equipped again. The power-ups are wacky and funny and add a lot to the enjoyment of the other plain and basic gameplay.

The movement of the game feels a little clunky but it’s hard to describe what exactly is wrong, but the momentum feels somewhat off. You get used to it somewhat after some time but it’s far from ideal. It’s really hard to see what is going on in a match as well since there is no clear indication when you have hit someone other than the health bar. Moving around with your power-ups can be a nightmare too since the mobility is kinda low. You can also just plainly cancel out of them which happens many times since the game is a mash fest.

 

Unlock and design your favourite Minifigure

You can design your own ultimate Lego Minifigure with unique style, strategy and personality. A cactus with an attitude? A sledgehammer-swinging clown with a few scores to settle? Create the character you like. Lego Brawls consists of many different themes. These themes consist of Minifigures, power-ups and emotes for you to unlock along the way. Choosing a theme will influence the rewards you will earn after a battle. You can change the theme you want to earn a reward for at any time.

Special themes will also appear for limited times, like a Halloween theme etc. This of course makes you play and come back more often, which can be good and bad. I’m always happy for more content, but this can make the game really addictive for players. It can trigger the fear of missing out which, is something that I luckily don’t struggle with. The way you unlock the content, especially the timed content feels more like a free-to-play game than a full-blown retail game.

Battles take place within many Lego-themed stages. These are (mostly) the same as the themes from the rewards. These range from Jurassic World to the shores of Barracuda Bay, to the waterlogged caverns of Ninjago® Seabound, to a dusty wild west saloon and, all of your favourite LEGO themes are brawlable!

Graphics and performance

The art style is basic, but heck, what do you expect of a game based on the Lego Universe? I however feel like the art style is made more basic than it should be. I have seen and played a couple of Lego games, and yes they look basic but have some visual interest to them as well. This is lacking with Lego Brawls. The game plays well enough in terms of performance and the connections to the server are stable enough.

Conclusion

Lego Brawls offers a fun experience that isn’t too difficult to understand. The gameplay is really basic and simple because it is aimed at a young audience. This isn’t perse a bad thing but also means there is a lack of depth that true gamers and/or veterans would enjoy. The controls are stiff and somewhat off-putting as well. The game overall looks basic as well which makes a lot of sense for a game about Lego. Lego Brawls retails for €40.-, which is a pretty high price for something that feels more like a free-to-play than a full-blown retail game. For a little kid, someone obsessed with or really into Lego or both at the same time the game can be worth the investment. For all other options, it’s hard to validate the retail price of €40.

6/10

-tested on Nintendo Switch

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