Brawl Brothers
Release year - USA:1993
Company: Jaleco
System: snes
Genre: Beat 'em up
Players: 1-2

Review by: PrimeOp

The Rushing Beat series by Jaleco is one of the most underrated and underappreciated series in the U.S. Although the first game in the series, Rival Turf, is a bit rough around the edges, it's sequel manages to go far beyond expectations and even plays a bit better than some of the games it's inspired by.

To stop the plans of a corrupt corporate kingpin known as the Iceman and his private army, a group of five heroes of different fighting disciplines plan to shut him down once and for all. The problem is: all but two of them are kidnapped and brainwashed. Now, not only must the two surviving fighters (which you choose) continue with the plan to destroy the enemy, but you must also battle your friends to bring them to their senses. Among the heroes are the two veterans from Rival Turf: Rick 'Hack' Norton and Douglas 'Slash' Bild. Like any decent sequel of a beat-em-up, there's a few new characters. Female wrestler Wendy Milan, attacks with the speed and the fury worthy of a Jumping Bomb Angel. Lord J is a karate expert who moves slowly but hits with the force of a ton of bricks. The last new cast member is the mysterious ninja, Kazan. His blinding swiftness and mysterious powers have made him a bit of a cult favorite character. Each of these character have enough strengths to make them worthy of choosing since Jaleco has given them all great play balance. You'll have to make your way through four levels which each end in a boss. While you'll face Iceman in the final battle, the first three boss battles are against duplicates of the three characters that you didn't start with. After defeating them, you are able to choose them. Another nice touch is being allowed to pick a character at the start of each stage instead of being locked in the same choice as before.
Start with Hack/Nelson and Kazan. Nelson is a great standard-balance character and, well, picking Kazan = not fighting Kazan.

'The bridge is over... the bridge is over... br-rah-bah...'
This game has huge improvements over the original game's control. You have your standard Final Fight-style "tap combo" beating, good jumping attacks, a nice run-to-dash attack and block-rocking slams. One thing that sets this game apart is that when you take too much damage, you go into Angry(Ikari) Mode and, for a short time, you become an invincible powerhouse while dishing out pain with increased strength. Even the slams become more intense, some of which can throw enemies across the entire screen to smash and damage the other useless thugs on the screen. This prevents that annoyance where enemies trap you and hit you again the instant that you get back on your feet. It also looks cool, because you're glowing red when this happens (almost like the kung-fu classic 'Five Fingers of Death'). Another nice touch is how you can pick up food and not eat it right away. You'll have to do moves other than punching in order to save your food or drink, but it's a welcome, life-saving addition.

There's a very noticable improvement in the graphics to this series. The game is filled with solid-looking, well-drawn sprites and backgrounds. Jaleco's unique musical style can be found here in full, glorious effect. This is such a solid effort that I think it's just as good as many of the beat-em-ups from Capcom, Konami and Sega. To be honest, the game's only drawbacks are that it seems a bit too short and the drone enemy designs can be a bit bland. Except for a few, none of them really stand out like members of Mad Gear or Mr. X's Syndicate. Except for the final battle, the bosses are palette swaps of the other heroes. On the plus side, they've all been given strange, extra powers that make them a bit different. Unfortunately, Jaleco USA did another of it's odd localization jobs here. Besides changing the names of the two returning heroes (but not even with the fake names they had in the first game), They also didn't bother to translate the different text that appears after the first three boss battles. True, that really doesn't have much of an effect on the gameplay, it'd have been nice to get the actual story with these characters. Luckily, the Japanese version of the game is unlockable via a cheat on the start screen. If only they had done that with 'The PeaceKeepers' localization.
Tired of being co-operative? Jaleco threw in a Vs Mode for some player-on-player buttwhoopery.

If you've worn out your Final Fights, Double Dragons and, eh, Streets of Rageses, try this game. It's good enough to separate it from the pack of crappy beat-em-ups that were shoved out by other companies during this time period. You can probably find for cheap at stores that sell used games and, of course, the ever popular pawn shop (where I got my copy). BTW: performing a code on the Jaleco screen allows you to play the Japanese version of the game with fixed names and more!

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