The indie gaming industry is blooming; we're seeing more and more titles each passing week with some titles even surpassing the quality of games made by the more well-known game developers. XYLA Entertainment is one of the more recent indie developers to see daylight and their newest game, Rush Bros, promises to be a ground-breaking platforming game. Big words from a juvenile developer so let's take a look at the game.
The story (if you can call it that) of Rush Bros starts when two DJ brothers, aptly named Bass and Treble, have had it with making music together and start pursuing solo careers. The music industry welcomes this change but one executive wants the brothers to find out which one is a better DJ. So what follows, two DJs battling it out with turntables? Yeah you'd think so but fortunately (or unfortunately in this case) everything is possible in games so the brothers compete against each other by jumping and avoiding lethal traps. The story makes no sense but luckily it's shown only in the opening video and forgotten after that.
The gameplay is very simplified; you run and jump around the levels while avoiding traps. There is no story-progression or anything like that, it's just you (and possibly a friend) against the clock. You can cling on to walls for a second to be able to jump even higher and slide under obstacles. Some levels have power-ups which enable you to double-jump for example. The controls are very simple so you'll feel right at home. The game also has full Xbox 360 controller support.
The different game modes available are Arcade, split-screen and Steam multiplayer. Each game mode has the same levels (41 in total) which can be played in any order. The only aim of the game is to see who gets the best time in a level. Too bad the levels look and feel exactly the same. The levels are extremely fast-paced and take only about a minute to finish so lightning-fast reflexes are much more important than trying to finish the level without dying. Dying is another thing that's taken a bit lightly in the game; your character just teleports a bit backwards and the show can continue.
The singleplayer Arcade mode gets tiring after a few levels but luckily the game is meant to be played online (or split-screen). As mentioned earlier, the multiplayer portion uses the same levels as the singleplayer but with a small twist; some power-ups are replaced by ones that harm your opponent, one might reverse the controls for example. This makes the multiplayer 'races' a bit more interesting but it still doesn't save the overly simple gameplay.
The graphical design (along with the rest of the game) is very simple; lots of black platforms with neon lights. The game does have some pretty nice looking visual effects but it doesn't save the overall quality of the graphics. The game also requires DirectX 10 to run which makes no sense; where is it used? The requirements make no sense either; the game requires a 2.4GHz dual core and has a recommended CPU requirement of a 3GHz quad core! I'm quite positive this game would run even with a notebook. It might just be that the developers aren't very experienced with optimization.
So now that we've established the fact that the gameplay and graphics are overly simplified what do we have left? That's right, the music. The game features music by Infected Mushroom and it fits the game perfectly. The theme song must be one of the best songs I've heard in a while. Too bad the fast-paced levels require so much of your attention that you really can't enjoy the music while playing. You can also use your own songs in the levels, which changes the color schemes of the neon lights.
Overall the game is fun to play for the few first levels (especially when racing against a friend) but it gets repetitive and fast. The great music doesn't save the simplified gameplay along with the pretty hefty price of 10€ ($13/£8); this game should have been published for free. The only explanation for the high price is the developers greed or the fact that the game features music by Infected Mushroom. My guess is the latter.