After playing Ultra Space Battle Brawl, I can easily say that this was one of the more unexpected gameplay experiences I’ve had this year. I assumed I had my hands on another Super Smash Bros. clone. Instead, Ultra Space Battle Brawl is a combination of classic fighting game visuals, a dynamic soundtrack, and oddly enough, an interpolation of Pong-style gameplay in a new way.
Ultra Space Battle Brawl was first born out of Mojiken Camp, an internal team building program. During the program, the whole Mojiken crew have to build a prototype based on a proven product and breathe a new air to the game. Among all the prototypes, came Ultra Space Battle Brawl from the mind of Eka Pramudita Muharam, 2D artist and co-founder of Mojiken Studio.
In step with most fighting games, Ultra Space Battle Brawl comes with the usual list of options for gameplay. There are 10 different characters to play through, each with different stats to suit your play style and individual stories in Story Mode, a versus mode where you and some friends can go head to head in 1v1 and 2v2 matches, and a gallery with artwork to unlock. Each story is fairly cookie cutter, and to be honest, and there is very little world building in the narratives to warrant me taking any sort of interest in the characters, in contrast to how I usually approach fighting game story modes.
Matches are played out like a fighting game would, in the usual best of three styles. Each side has a gem to defend with a destructible wall, which is represented by chibi-morph versions of the chosen character. Then, a single ball is put into play. Matches usually start with players rushing to hit the ball first and to get started in knocking down the opposing team’s defenses.
The ball changes color, representing the team that hit it last and repeated hits speed up the ball, making it tricky for the opposing team to catch it before it flies by them and hits down some of their walls or worse, damage their gem. If the ball is your teams color and hits your gem/walls, however, there is no damage taken. Each gem can take up to 5 points of damage and is represented by a health bar at the top left and right of the screen. An ultra meter fills up for special attacks.
The game does offer a decent amount of challenge and variety with all its characters, Ultra moves, and maps, but can start to feel a bit predictable after the first couple of playthroughs. Like Pong, you feel the depth of the game within your first hour playing it. Then, the onus is on your experiences trudging the singularity. What the game is really missing out on, however, are move-sets for each character and a combo meter. If added, they would complete the experience of a fighting game that isn’t one but is still very entertaining.
Visuals and Sound
Visuals in Ultra Space Battle Brawl are fun and bright, with 90s fighting nostalgia seeping through. Despite the variety in colors and characters, I had a hard time picking a favorite solely on their look. With no special moves, that was all I had to base a “main” off of, and I didn’t ever feel like I found my competitor. With the throwback style so ingrained in the game, it would have been nice to see better character designs. The maps all do the job, but they’re nothing to write home about. In fact, I don’t remember having a favorite map either. To be honest, everything bleeds together in this game visually and while captivating at times, you won’t make any memories playing in this space-fighting brawl game.
The sound is good, but not great. The music and sound effects get you into the chaos of the gameplay but do little to add anything. They simply make it feel as if they knew what they needed to do but failed to, yet again, make any amazing strides for their title. Sound is a big part of fighters, and with memorable music so popular in other fighting titles, it would have been nice to have a little more melody and a lot less noise.
Ultra Space Battle Brawl is fun for couch co-op, but don’t plan a night around it. In fact, have a few games as a backup, because, after a little bit of time with this game, you’ll have seen it all. The gameplay is something I’ll revisit from time to time, but there are a number of average aspects of the game that limit me from calling this a regular game in my party-mode title rotation.
A Nintendo Switch copy of Ultra Space Battle Brawl was provided by Toge Productions for the purpose of this review.