Like many others before me, I have had many a day in my youth, sat in my pants on the sofa, playing games. Most of you will have done it at some point, but for those of you that are still afforded the opportunity for such luxury, there is now a game to match it – Brief Battles on Xbox One.
Coming from the creative minds over at Juicy Cupcake, Brief Battles is a party platformer that brings hard-fought battles amongst its super-powered, underpant-donning contestants. Each match of Brief Battles brings up to four players into action in one of four unique modes. Classic Battle has players fight it out Deathmatch style, slaying one another for points with the most points winning, while Knockout requires you to be the last one standing. Hold the Gold meanwhile asks you to track down the coveted Golden underpants and hold them for a total of 20 seconds, with the final option, that of Underpants Collector, seeing players looking to grab hold of as many underpants as possible before the timer runs out.
Of course, from the description of each mode, and the fact that Brief Battles is a party-focused game, these modes are generally going to require you have some extra friends coming along for the ride. If you’re after a single-player mode to enjoy on the side however, Brief Battles does also have a few options to enjoy with a solo option for the aforementioned Underpants Collector, as well as Tighty Whitey Targets, a mode that tasks players with breaking all targets within a given stage in the time limit, Butt-em-up Battles – a wave based horde made – and Endless Butt-em-up, which is an endless version of the same thing.
It’s nice to see a solo mode offering available in something that is primarily a multiplayer experience, however, completing everything available won’t take all too long and it’s obvious early on that the core gameplay comes from the local multiplayer match-ups.
As for the combat and gameplay itself, each match of Brief Battles sees players running around the maps, jumping, dodging and utilising special attacks to defeat one another in order to gain match-winning points.
To put it ‘briefly’, Brief Battles is essentially frantic madness on a single screen, one that pits players against each other within platform heavy maps. It is essentially your typical party brawler, but what makes things enjoyable is that if you have a full match of players, the fun can be had for many hours, with each match feeling like a true battle for survival until the last seconds. If you don’t always quite have the full four combatants available though, you won’t find any other online players coming to fill in the gaps, and with life often allowing many of us to get many people together at frequent times, this is a game that’s only really going to cater to gaming families.
That’s a shame too as with an online mode to bolster player options Brief Battles could have proven to be a hit. See, the gameplay proves to be both enjoyable and easily accessible with controls that prove fluid and easy to grasp, with double jump, super jump and slam abilities all on show. In fact, there is very little here we haven’t seen before in previous platform adventures, but with it all working so smoothly together and objectives being simple and easy to follow, Brief Battles works well as a game you can just pick up and play.
The key feature that stands out is the ability for you to stick to things, such as walls – something which is especially useful against incoming enemy attacks, often bringing the element of surprise as well as a good old giggle. It’s not game changing, it’s not genre-changing, but it goes along well with the comical nature of the game.
By now you can probably tell that besides magical super-powered underwear capable of firing flaming balls of fire or morphing the shape of their wearers into different forms, Brief Battles is a rather simplistic, typical game. Sometimes though, simplicity is all you need, and another area that works well is found within the general look and sound of the game.
Visually, things are designed with a cutesy appeal. Characters take the form of rather comical yet cute blobs, and each map – whilst detailed – is very cartoon like in appearance. Fortunately, this is fine for what Brief Battles brings and whilst there is enough to keep things looking pretty, there is never too much that requires concentration, leaving you to focus purely on the gameplay at hand. As for the audio, there is nothing that really stands out, but the casual beat in the background is more than enough to keep things rolling on; it’s a soothing audio that certainly makes for easy listening.
Overall and if you’re after a local multiplayer title for the whole family then Brief Battles is without doubt a game you should be getting involved in. If you want something that you can enjoy for hours on end, then you may find a bit of a struggle after you’ve experienced every map and mode, but there is still plenty of fun to be had with this surprisingly challenging multiplayer adventure. Unfortunately, whilst we can always appreciate some love for the local-multiplayer genre, a lack of online connectivity in an online-dominated gaming market is a sore miss and certainly limits the amount of fun that can be had with Brief Battles.
Of course, that’s no reason to avoid the game, but unless you can get a group together for some multiplayer madness, there is only a limited amount of time you can spend with what is otherwise a very well crafted and enjoyable indie title.