The term ‘futuristic sports game’ always grabs my attention. Maybe it’s the sensationalised and emphatic cheers every time an objective is met or the violence. Why do futuristic sports always have loads of violence?
Violence and quick, fast-paced action are the two fundamentals in HyperBrawl Tournament. Matches are 2 vs 2, best of three rounds (each a couple of minutes long). Perfect for tomorrow’s (or today’s?) short attention spanned audience. The goal is simple – throw the ball into your opponent’s goal. You can pass it, throw it, or smash the other team-up. Still simple.
This simplicity quickly gives way to a number of other options within the game. Firstly, throwing the ball can then be curved with the right stick in all manner of elaborate ways. There’s a punch, a flying kick, a superpower, and another supercharged ability. You can also take control of the other team member at whim (or not, your choice) for further expression in your plays. A ‘simple to play, hard to master’ philosophy gives way rather quickly to a bombardment of unnecessary commands.
This is perhaps a bit unfair – after a while, it does all sort of make sense and become quite playable. But it still feels over-engineered. There are some other odd choices too. Tactical combat gives way to button smashing. Each team has an area by the goal that only they can enter, a ‘safe zone’. This means one player can just wait in the goal and try to defend throws from safety. It doesn’t help win games, but it helps not lose them and as a team takes the lead, online at least, it can lead to some really boring games.
Speaking of one player defending, the primary online mode is 1 vs 1. That’s one human vs. one human, controlling a team of two. Why it isn’t four players is a weird one. This option exists for private games, however. Very strange. Still, some cool combos can be created with the various characters to play as, as well as a number of various special weapons. They all felt a bit like toy robot knock-offs to me, like if you wanted the Power Rangers robots but ended up on the market and got imitations. This is a bit harsh maybe, but it’s the impression I get when selecting characters, to the point that I’m never really that fussed who I play as.
What did surprise me however was the appearance of a relatively comprehensive single-player mode. It’s nice to see a game of this ilk, would be written off as a multi-player party game consider the solo players. This is a nice addition, and although I wanted to spend more time online playing, not everyone does so this is a considered and welcome addition.
My favourite part of the game is probably the arenas. What are essentially fairly standard rectangles with two goals at either end have enough variation to make them and the game more interesting. For example, one will simply have some pillars in the middle which compromise throwing as well as providing some cover for violence, but another has sections which fall away, making for some interesting positioning at certain points.
There are the usual daily challenges to complete that appear in most games now, and credits to earn. Oddly I couldn’t see anywhere to spend the credits, but I have earned some loot crates, so I assume a shop is coming at some point. HyperBrawl Tournament is probably worth a look if you’re desperate for a futuristic sports game, but I’m not quite sure got the basics quite right to stand the test of time. It’s close though.
Reviewed on PS4
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