Nearly nineteen years ago Nintendo released the seminal game, Super Smash Brothers for the Nintendo 64. In addition to the three sequels that followed, there has been a slew of clones that try to live up to Nintendo’s flagship party brawler. Although these clones aren’t as popular in the mainstream, they all bring a uniqueness and special charm to the Smash formula that has spawned a group of niche players. The games, of course, being: Rivals of Aether, Brawlout, Brawlhalla, and PlayStation All-stars Battle Royale. (although, PS All-stars’ fanbase has since dwindled) There are certainly more, but these all have unique mechanics that stand out from each other and the original.
4. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (PS3, PS Vita)
Going back all the way to 2012, we have PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. This was PlayStation’s attempt at a crossover fighter, featuring characters like Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series to Sir Daniel from the Medieval franchise. Developer SuperBot Entertainment (R.I.P.) decided to take a different approach to the Smash formula. Instead of winning via off-stage knockouts, they created three tiers of super moves that are needed to finish off your opponent. Throughout the game you receive blue orbs by damaging your foe and only after these build up to either your lvl 1, 2, or 3 ultimate ability can you take out the enemy. While the idea behind this is certainly interesting, the balance in the cast was off. Certain characters ultimate abilities were way easier to hit than others, and for the most part, not fun to play against. The incentive to practice and get better at the game mechanically is basically useless. Which is unfortunate because the game can be fun at times, but needed a lot of work. I think most gamers would have preferred if the title was a blatant ripoff of Smash Brothers.
3. Brawlout (Switch, PC)
Brawlout, developed by Angry Mob Games, is the only one of these games that are for Nintendo Switch. While having a similar feel to Smash 4 in the way it looks, it falls short of the gameplay and character design. At times feels quite buggy and few of the fighters seem quite overpowered. Although the game did just release not too long ago, so there is plenty of time for that to be patched. There are six original characters and two third-party fighters to choose from, in addition to a handful of clones that just have slight differences from the original fighter, they’re based on (similar to Lucina and Marth in Smash 4). Other things to note are that the spot and roll dodges have a very precise timing that takes time to get used to. Also, the aerial lag makes it difficult to avoid being juggled at low damage percentage. The game has potential to be great, and to casual fans, this will be a fine placeholder until Smash Bros. Comes to Switch.
2. Brawlhalla (PS4, XBO, PC)
Brawlhalla is a free-to-play fighting game developed by Blue Mammoth Games that features a unique weapons system among its large cast of characters. Similar to Brawlout, Brawlhalla’s cast of characters are all primarily clones of each other, the difference being the weapons that they use to fight. There are eleven different weapons and each “Legend” has access to a combination of two of them while each having their own stats in strength, dexterity, defense, and speed. This creates a large variety of playable characters, while basically the same as others, they still feel unique in their own way. The thing that this game does very well compared to the others is creating a sense of satisfaction in everything you do. Every knockout, recovery, or small combo that you do feels incredibly rewarding. Brawlhalla overall is very welcoming to newer players, while leaving veterans to perfect the finer mechanics the game has to offer.
1. Rivals of Aether (Xbox One, PC, Switch)
For the fans of Super Smash Bros. Melee, there is Rivals of Aether. This Pixeled styled fighter was only developed by a couple of people, and it’s the closest experience to classic Smash out of all of them, but it brings unique gameplay functions and a convivial charm with it. This is a game anybody can play and have a great time with, but the ones who put in time and effort into learning the intricacies of the gameplay mechanics that can become a force to be reckoned with. Rivals features a higher skill cap, as well as strong combo potentials and follow-ups, this what makes this game incredibly addicting to play.
The characters are well thought-out and all have a unique fighting style to go with them. Each of them is based on a different animal, element, and have a special mechanic. Whether it’s Forsburn’s smoke screen and duplicate abilities, or Orcane’s puddle transportation, each of them brings something different to the table and take a bit of time to master. Rivals also allow access to Ori, from Ori and the Blind Forest as a special DLC character ($5). A few key things that stood out; there is no ledge grabbing, no grapples, and the spot dodging acts as a type of counter that stuns the opponent. Whether or not these are a good or a bad thing, I’ll leave up to you.
Hopefully, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo Switch is coming soon, but in the meantime, here are some clones that can hold us over till that happens. Which one of these is your favorite? Do you think any of these are better than Smash? Let me know in the comments below. Until next time, thank you very much.