In Space We Brawl, Eventually

One thing that pleases me to no end in this latest generation of consoles is the continued resurgence of retro-style gaming. Whether it’s a design that hearkens back to the pixelated sprites we once adored or couch multiplayer games triggering fistfights among friends (or both!), there is plenty of nostalgia and fun to be had these days.

In Space We Brawl

In Space We Brawl, unfortunately, includes two “features” of old-school games that have no business in the 21st century: a user interface so clunky and outdated you’ll likely spend more time brawling game menus than you do other players, and a brevity of gameplay that is much more suited to sucking up quarters than delivering much in the way of competitive satisfaction.

Every match (emphasis will make sense later) begins with a player selecting from a large variety of ship and special weapon combinations that can fit just about any desired play-style. So far, so good, right? However, our first problems arise immediately afterwards when you enter the level select screen.

There are eight levels to choose from and you HAVE to choose one of them, regardless of your familiarity, because there is no random option. This did not bode well, and I find it weird that the developers omitted such a simple feature. After selecting a level, you must make another choice: which of the three map sizes you’d like to battle on. Perhaps it’s this additional option that precludes the lack of a random option somehow, but I’m not seeing it. Still, finally, it’s time to get brawlin’!

That debris looks a lot like my ship, oh wait so does that... and that...

“That debris looks a lot like my ship, oh wait so does that… and that…”

Blink and you may miss said brawl, though. A frustrating combination of over-saturated level obstacles, ponderous controls, and a lack of good visual cues will have you dying as much to the environment as to another player. And it will usually happen very fast. Afterwards, when a single player is left standing, the match is ended. Remember that emphasis?

Ah yes, now we’ve come to the worst affront of all: you will have to go through this entire match process at least three times (the minimum number of matches you can participate in) before a tournament winner is ultimately declared.

Match Over!

I dreaded this screen more than any player.

The end result is a game that often spends more time getting to the appointed space than brawling, and I don’t have the time or space to waste on it.