Release Date: May 24, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Digital Tribe (XYLA Entertainment)
ESRB Rating: N/A
After spending some time in the limbo of Steam Greenlight, Rush Bros. finally unlocked the door to finding a place on the Steam store. The neon colors, the thumping beats, the speed and competition between two brothers all called out to the dormant arcade player inside me. The mode selection screen appears, the music starts (headphones recommended), and two characters spinning records rock their heads to the beats and await your choice. Track 43 loads, I press “D” to move to the right and the experience begins.
The Mechanics of Dub
Rush Bros. is a remix of racing, music, and puzzle genres into one glowing album. Players can use a controller or stick with the keyboard layout, I found no trouble using the keyboard. The controls did feel a little tight though, moving and jumping gave the character a heavy feel. I suppose this works for immersion but it also, in a few cases, lead to me mistiming jumps and getting sent back a ways thanks to the devious direction squares.
It normally wouldn’t be much an issue, but Rush Bros. is a racing game where every second counts. The idea is to treat each level like a time attack, finish as fast as you can or at least faster than your opponent. Players have the option to play multiplayer to compete for Rush champion or single player to either practice or play while getting lost in the tunes (I did this many times). If the basic levels aren’t enough, there’s options to “remix” them, basically adding additional difficulty such as “fast forward” and “survival”. Multiplayer is where the real fun is as you can either be matched up with other players or face your friends over the 43 levels with different modes for gloating glory.
43 Levels of Funk Pumping
The “tracks” or levels of Rush Bros. are based of the game’s music. You can think of it a bit like Bit. Trip. Runner meets Super Meat Boy. If players don’t find the Dubstep sounds matching their musical tastes, they can use their own music instead and the levels will react to the new music or at least they would in theory. Using tracks ranging from Led Zeppelin to The Decemberists and even The World Ends with You, I didn’t notice much of a difference in the levels.
Thankfully, the level design is good enough on it’s own. Per the rules of gaming, the player’s challenge will increase as the move on to the next track. The goal is finish as fast as possible with the sub-challenge of finishing with as little deaths as possible. This sub-goal, is actually harder to achieve than it seems. The obstacles consist of spikes, pits, bumpers, directional squares, and more. They are all designed to inhibit player progression and do a damn good job of it. If you don’t practice or make the best moves, you’re going to lose precious seconds and possibly the victory. There’s one track that conjured memories of playing Casino Night from Sonic 2 with those annoying bumpers that bounced my character back and forth like a rag doll. There’s even a nod to Bit Trip Runner which is frustratingly excellent.
Dropping the Beat
Rush Bros. is a solid racer/platformer that skipped a beat with it’s vision. The controls are maybe a tad too tight for a competitive game but the level design, the music, the challenge, and most importantly – the fun are all strong in this one despite missing the random track of responsive levels to different music. Racing and beating your friends and the random Steam opponent is satisfying, especially when you spend time playing and replaying levels to learn every jump and spike location. Now if you’ll excuse me, I suddenly feel the beats calling.