Over the last few years, we’ve seen an insurgence of platform fighting games hit our consoles and PCs, all of which have attempted to carve out a place in a genre very much defined and dominated by Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Recently, we’ve seen Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, MultiVersus, and now, we have LEGO Brawls. Technically, this game has been around on Apple Arcade since 2019, but now it has reached mainstream consoles and opened itself up to a much wider audience.
LEGO games have always been well received. Their quirky, family-friendly nature makes them a hit with people of all ages, and they’ve put their spin on just about every notable franchise out there, from Indiana Jones to Star Wars. Now, they’ve branched out to the platform fighter genre, and it’s probably worth pointing out at this stage that if you’re looking for the traditional LEGO game experience, this probably isn’t the game for you. There’s no building or story content, but we do get to duke it out as LEGO Minifigures.
We’ve come to expect a certain level of choice and customisation options with LEGO-related games and products. Admittedly, LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga didn’t deliver in terms of the latter, but it more than made up for it with an impressive roster of characters and the scope and depth of just about everything else. LEGO Brawls, on the other hand, relies heavily on customisation.
Whilst I haven’t counted them myself, LEGO Brawls supposedly boasts over 77 trillion possibilities when creating your characters, which is pretty impressive. It also allowed me to play as a tutu-wearing, baguette-wielding clown, so there’s that.
There are a few Minifigures to start you off, but you’ll unlock more characters as you progress through the game. You can either use them as they come or use their various bits and pieces to create your own unique brawlers. You can also change their weapons and power-ups to choose the loadout that works for you.
That said, in a game like this, the vast customisation options are as much a flaw as a benefit. Whilst creating your own characters is fun, there’s very little to differentiate brawlers in anything else but visuals. Furthermore, whilst there is some variation in the power-ups you can equip, all melee weapons deal the same damage, so after winning your first few brawls wielding a baguette, the thrill gets old quickly. I’d have preferred less choice with more distinctive character fighting styles and special moves. Quality, not quantity is something that comes to mind here.
LEGO Brawls offers a couple of different modes of play.
Firstly, you choose between Brawl or Party Mode. The first is an online quick-play, whilst Party Mode gives you more freedom to play with friends through couch co-op or invite-only matches. Within those initial categories, there are several match types. There are 4v4 brawls where you team up to either command a checkpoint or gather the most of a specific item, and there are free-for-all battles where you fight against seven other players until you’re the last Minifigure standing. At the beginning of the round, you get to vote on the stage you wish to play.
In terms of gameplay, LEGO Brawls is pretty simple. Regardless of the match goals, one of your primary objectives is to take out the other players for points. To do this, you can either beat them in hectic combat or knock them out of bounds. To do this, you have your basic attack and two power-up slots. The power-ups you receive in the match depend on your chosen loadout and can range from a temporary shield defence to a laser-shooting disco ball. To pick them up, you need to smash the glowing cubes that spawn throughout the stage. Like most other aspects of the game, you’ll unlock more as you progress through the game and partake in brawls, so it’s worth trying new power-ups to see which works best for you.
Stages and Visuals
The stages in LEGO Brawls are impressive. They’re big enough to give you a decent arena for play, but they’re not too big. Each stage is based on a specific theme. Some are generic, like the pirate and castle theme, but there are also stages based on popular franchises like Ninjago and Jurassic Park. From the design of the stage to additional stage-specific powerups, there was an element of distinctness to each level.
It is nice to have a bit of variety, and the theme-specific elements ensure you don’t necessarily feel like you’re replaying the same stage with a fresh coat of paint. Still, quirky stages can only go so far when it comes to keeping your attention.
It’s hard for any platform fighting game to truly make an impression when Super Smash Bros. is so synonymous with the genre, but Lego Brawls, unfortunately, falls short. It is a lot of fun in short bursts, with a nice variety of modes and themes to check out, but most players will likely grow tired of the repetitive, overly simplified combat that just doesn’t provide all that much challenge. It is fast-paced, quirky and chaotic, but there didn’t seem to be much substance for the price. This game might be perfect for families with small children, but the rest of us might want to look elsewhere.
Developers: Red Games Co., Red Games Co., LLC
Publishers: The Lego Group, BNE Entertainment, Lego Interactive, Namco Bandai Games America Inc.
Platforms: PS4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 19th September 2022
Gaming Respawn’s copy of LEGO Brawls was provided by the publisher.