XYLA Entertainment’s Rush Bros. is a classic side-scrolling platform style game with modern techno visuals and a music driven theme. The games music is directly connected to your performance and attempts a rhythmic connection between your movement and the games auditory world.
In Rush Bros. you are a futuristic techno style DJ traversing a music themed city. The game doesn’t really provide a narrative other than the classic platformer goal of “get to the end.” The only real modifier at work here are the game’s timer as every level is ultimately a race and the key element is not just finishing, but finishing as fast as you can. There is no continuity between levels and the game even provides you with the option to play them in whichever order you want. The only progression to be found is in navigating the games increasingly complex levels.
Rush Bros. gameplay is an assault on the senses. Trance inducing techno music and a psychedelic visual barrage of color and light assaults you constantly. Sometimes effectively and sometimes annoyingly so. Perhaps the key feature of Rush Bros. is your ability to replace the games soundtrack with your own. I restricted my first playthrough to the games stock music as I figured it was more to the developers design and later tested my own music. I have to say the feature doesn’t really work. Everything in the game is engineered towards speed and an overall feeling of high energy. If your music doesn’t fit that rhythm it seems to fail in my opinion.
The games controls are too sloppy for a platformer that relies heavily on agility and split second reaction. Controls must be responsive to feel comfortable navigating the peril ridden environment and here they always seem to lag behind your actual input. Your character feels somewhat floaty and out of control. Level design is a major factor in platformers and it too quickly becomes repetitive here. Only a few tricks exist to the games navigation and once learned they are more or less unchanged for the rest of the levels. Some portions of the game feature frustratingly difficult segments and inexplicably no checkpoints for the entire level. A kind of coherence and reason to a games level design is critical and too often in Rush Bros. I felt myself randomly pursuing directions hoping that whatever power up or door key I was looking for was in that direction.
Levels offer slightly different paths to their end goal point, but besides minor variation in approach, the levels are linear. Gameplay consists of finding color coded keys, jumping from moving platform to moving platform, dodging spikes, and other such tools that are mainstays of the genre. Power-ups are the usual pillars of the genre such as speed and double jump. They do not affect the gameplay very much and aside from a few spaces requiring their use they are mostly unimportant.
At times the games music driven dynamic feels directly connected to your performance and at other times seems to be quite disconnected, which serves to break the overall rhythmic feeling the game strives for. At its best, the game merges a fluid movement with musical rhythm to produce a kind of gliding feeling that is a lot of fun. These moments of being “in sync” are unfortunately much too rare. Replay value consists only of besting the fastest time you have previously set on a level.
The games visual design is quite polished and the developer has taken great care with the games integration of the platform and the backgrounds themselves. The environment is very alive and active which suits the games aesthetic very well. Sound design is also quite polished, but if very club driven techno music doesn’t suit you (as it doesn’t me) it can become quite tiring to play for extended periods of time. It is decidedly indie and lacks the final polish it really needed to unify the games vision.
Rush Bros. multiplayer mode adds a temporary boost of interest. Modes consist of old school split screen racing with another player and multiplayer via online matchmaking. Racing against another player is interesting, but ultimately multiplayer mode is a victim of the same issues present in the games single-player mechanic. All modes feature the same basic goal of getting to the finish line the quickest. Modes such as Remix allow the game to be increased in speed while Survival mode removes all checkpoints and once failing the level must be started from the beginning.
Ultimately the game is mediocre and doesn’t have the depth necessary for extended play. Its promising feature of customizable gameplay based on your own soundtrack isn’t fully realized and more likely than not will only hinder your experience. Sound design is such a crucial element of a games presentation that I would like the developer to take care of it instead of letting me complete the game for them or tamper with its inherent architecture. Most gamers likely will not finish the 41 repetitive levels. Multiplayer will extend the experience a bit, but wait for a solid discount before purchasing this one.