Rush Bros.

8.0 Overall Score
Presentation: 10/10
Story: 3/10
Gameplay: 8/10

beautiful visuals | fantastic music | fun, fast paced platforming

musical integration is problematic for imported music | keyboard controls are poor | nonsense, throwaway story

Written by on July 4, 2013 in [, , ]

Music and video games have become good friends in recent years. Rock Band, Guitar Hero, and later Dance Central came to be party staples, allowing players to download some of their favorite songs and play along with their friends.

Rush Bros brings a slightly different take to musical integration because at its core it isn’t really a music game. Rush Bros is a 2D platformer comparable to games like Super Meat Boy. The goal is to get to the end of the level and do so as quickly as possible. Obviously there are obstacles in your way as you traverse the levels and that is one of the ways Rush Bros incorporates music into the mix. Some of the level obstacles move to the backbeat of the music. This is interesting because it encourages the player to listen to the soundtrack and time their movements through the obstacles. In this way paying attention to the soundtrack has huge benefits to level completion time and minimizing your death count as you get through the levels.

This musical integration works very well with the thumping Electronic Dance Music (EDM) soundtrack. The obstacles move with the beat predictably and traversing the levels is a satisfying experience. As the player learns the tempo and backbeat of each of the songs in the game it allows them to trim their times down more and more. Getting that time down is integral to acquiring any of the achievements the game has but there is a much grander reason to develop this skill: defeating opponents in the multiplayer.

The multiplayer in Rush Bros exists as a sort of challenge mode. Other players can request what is essentially a race through any of the 30+ levels the game has to offer. Basically you want to spend time in the single player portion of Rush Bros to perfect movement through the levels so you can win when challenged to a race. Getting into the multiplayer is as simple as indicating via a checkbox that you are willing to accept challengers for the level you are interested in playing. Rematches are just as easy to initiate via the post match setup. Multiplayer is further complicated by the inclusion of power ups which offer lovely benefits like a speed boost but have the downside of instigating carelessness.

A game like Rush Bros is predicated on having precision control otherwise the whole experience just falls apart no matter how well implemented anything else is. As the game boots up it recommends playing with a controller and if you take that recommendation to heart you’ll have a lovely experience controlling this game. Everything seems as responsive as you would expect from a platformer like this and I never had the feeling that one of my deaths was caused by anything more than my own poor playing. Playing with a keyboard is possible but it makes the game feel incredibly awkward and not as responsive. Initially I started with the keyboard because I was playing without my controller nearby. It was an incredibly frustrating introduction to the game and I quickly decided it was worth hunting down my controller before continuing. If you really feel the need any of the controls can be rebound, allowing the player to configure their experience how they please.

Speaking of customization the game allows for music to be imported from the user’s hard drive. This is a really nice feature and is surprisingly easy to use. As long as your music is DRM free then you’ll have no issues getting tracks in the game and playing any of the levels with your own tunes. While this is a wonderful inclusion it is also a bit problematic. The game doesn’t do a fantastic job of beat detection on songs that are not included in the official soundtrack. This leads to some unpredictability in the moving obstacles which slows the flow of the game and can cause a good bit of frustration. This is less of an issue if you are importing other EDM tracks with consistent backbeats but anything else just doesn’t work.

The real gem of Rush Bros isn’t the music, or even the platforming, it’s the way the game looks. It’s a beautiful, electric, neon world filled with dark black outlines and glowing colors. The visual design makes it easy to replay stages over and over again to improve time because every time you look at one of these levels you feel like you’re seeing something new in the background. The character animations themselves are minimalistic and simple but that doesn’t seem to matter. I barely even viewed the player character as anything more than a blip that needed controlling especially when compared to the vibrancy of the backgrounds.

It’s worth at least noting that there is a story here though it’s mostly throw away. The game tells the tale of two DJ brothers who made it big together but since have drifted apart. The question of whether or not the guys will reunite to make music together once more is the general story beat you are traversing the game to answer. In reality the whole thing is more about setting the tone of the game as a fast paced, electronic wonderland than it is attempting to tell an actual story.

Overall Rush Bros is well worth the $10 cost of admission if you are a lover of fast paced, challenging platformers. There are enough levels to keep anyone busy who simply wants to experience the game alone, and there’s a fun, engaging multiplayer mode for those who need a little bit of competition. If you like platformers, beautiful visuals and EDM then you need to give Rush Bros a spin.


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Author: Elaine View all posts by
Electrical Engineer, podcaster, writer, gamer, tech lover, mother of two children (who are often trying to kill me) and lover of rum, vodka and wine from a box.

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