Have some friends over who want to play a high-action party game? Juicy Cupcake has just the game for you. Brief Battles has bounced its way onto consoles and PCs. It’s a multiplayer platforming game, where everyone plays as small blobby characters, and all powerups are in the form of underpants. Intrigued? Read our Brief Battles PS4 review to find out more.
With a name like Brief Battles by a developer named Juicy Cupcake, it’s obvious this is one game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. With a central focus on underpants collecting and butt slamming heroes, it’s all good silly fun. This is one platformer that players of all ages can play and appreciate, with a surprising amount of depth for the more serious gamers out there. It even offers a platinum trophy for all you hunters out there, which is great to see in a smaller indie title.
Brief Battles is designed as a party game, but those who prefer to play solo (or have no gaming friends) still have some options. There are several game modes which can be played alone or with a partner in co-op. A tutorial lets players get used to the movement mechanics in Brief Battles, which are slightly different than your average platformer. All players have an innate ability to climb most walls and can hang from the underside of most platforms. This takes some getting used to, but really opens up possibilities.
The unexpected agility of these blobby characters was clearly taken into account for the level design in Brief Battles. Many are more vertically-focused than players might be used to, featuring such things as platforms which must be jumped onto from below by first hanging off their edge. The timing required to perform such feats is pretty relaxed, so most players won’t have any issues coming to grips with the mechanics. Players do not need to hold any buttons to wall climb or hang, which removes a lot of the mental load that other games introduce with such a feature.
The simplicity of an advanced platforming mechanic carries into Brief Battles’ general control scheme. Cross is jump, triangle is a super jump which has much more height than a regular jump, square uses any superpants powers, and R2 butt slams. Double jumps are allowed, and reset once the player lands, grabs hold of a wall, or hangs below a platform. That’s all there is to it. The physics involved feel a little floaty, perhaps to allow for more precise landings or more butt slamming opportunities, as a butt slam is fatal to most enemy types, other players included. It’s not quite as floaty as, say, LittleBigPlanet, and feels right for this style of game.
Despite the simple controls, the single-player and co-op challenges are surprisingly challenging. There are multiple tiers of the Underpants Collector mode, for instance, which start off easy but quickly ramp up in difficulty as the player attempts to collect all floating underpants tokens within a set amount of time. None of the levels are so difficult that they can’t be passed by most players within a handful of attempts, but many will indeed take several tries to earn a gold underpants award for. These represent a near-perfect amount of challenge.
The co-op campaign, meanwhile, represents a challenge that is reminiscent of TowerFall: Ascension, though not quite as tough. Some enemies take multiple hits to kill, while others can never be touched under any circumstances. These are things which are only learned by playing the game, meaning there is a decent amount of trial and error. Boss waves include a regular wave of enemies, which are followed by a boss character that takes several hits to kill. Completing the campaign does unlock a special character, and there are several to unlock in other parts of the game as well. Some of the more nuanced four-player modes are locked out until the basic mode is played, which is a smart move to get players accustomed to the mechanics and pace of gameplay before diving in to a frenetic match involving golden underwear.
There are seven different underpants powers to pick up, each of which grants unlimited use of their abilities for as long as the player wears them. There are powers which slow the player down, but which can cause large amounts of damage, powers which are good at ranged attacks, and powers which enable faster speed and quick attacks. All characters can butt slam at any time, even if they are not currently airborne. These abilities open up strategic options as they are picked up in gift boxes that randomly appear in battle, or are granted at the start of a co-op fight.
The Unreal Engine is behind the butt-slamming action of Brief Battles. In fact, developer Juicy Cupcake is a recipient of the Unreal Dev Grant, a program where Epic Games gives select developers extra, no-strings-attached funding in return for developing in their engine. The result is a smooth performance across all game modes, no matter what zaniness is transpiring on screen. As the game is 2D, all PS4s should have no problem running it at a high frame rate.
Brief Battles is a fun party game that is easy to pick up and play, while also being rewarding to master. The novel ability to be able to climb along most surfaces inspired some great level design, while still being approachable. A large variety of levels, and even plenty of solo/co-op modes, ensures Brief Battle’s replayability. Juicy Cupcake has created a whimsical game everyone can get into, that is far deeper than its simple controls and silly sense of humor betray.
Brief Battles review code provided by publisher. Version 1.02 reviewed on a PlayStation 4 Pro. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.
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