Rush Bros. – PC
Publisher: Digital Tribe
Developer: XYLA Entertainment
Release Date: May 24, 2013
Genre: Action, Platform, Racing
Reviewed by Mark Smith

Review Score: 2.5 of 5

Rush Bros. is a brave new PC platformer than tries to blend music and platforming in such a way that I can only compare to those few levels in Rayman Origins and the new Rayman Legends game where the music not only drives your actions but your actions actually contribute to the composition of the music. Unlike most games that would attempt such a feat, XYLA Entertainment has gone above and beyond simply including their own handpicked track list. Sure, there is plenty of included music perfectly tailored for this game, but Rush Bros. offers endless potential by allowing you to use your own MP3 library.

What sounds like a great premise on paper sadly never materializes within the game; at least not as well as one would hope. Since the reactive game design ties the gameplay, puzzles, and moving environments to the actual music being played precise beat detection is paramount, and Rush Bros. misses the beat, which in turn causes you to miss the jump, hit the obstacle, or whatever else can prematurely kill you. Yes, there are times when the game actually syncs with the music and that’s when the genius of the concept shines through, but those exhilarating moments are too far and in-between.

Bringing your own music into the game is fairly easy provided you have ripped your own CD library, but if you purchase your music from iTunes or any other service that cripples your use with frustrating DRM then it becomes downright impossible. Musical taste is subjective at best, but I found most of the included music to be perfectly suited to the game and even worthy of listening to outside the game if given the chance to obtain a soundtrack.

The visuals for Rush Bros. are simple, colorful, and exude a TRON-like techno vibe that had me adding Daft Punk, Tangerine Dream, and my Run Lola Run and TRON soundtracks to my playlist almost immediately. The levels are simple in basic design but come alive with vibrant colors that pulse to the beat of whatever track is playing. There are distinctly themed environments that keeps things fresh and entertaining for as long as you end up playing.

As a platformer, the game is mediocre at best. Linear level designs are expected but backtracking through levels two or more times to obtain keys and unlock doors is not, especially when you have to navigate the same obstacles over and over. The game plays well with a controller but there are some sluggish moments where your tiny DJ doesn’t respond as fast as you would like or expect. Don’t even try to play this on a keyboard…just don’t.

In addition to the base single-player game Rush Bros. offers a few remix options like Survival where one hit kills you and Fast Forward that speeds up your music track and gameplay to insane levels of difficulty. The whole red vs. blue vibe of the two DJ’s is not lost on me and I realize this was a game meant to be played competitively, either in split-screen local mode or online. Steam has special discounted 2-pack bundles, and you can even play people who are gaming on their Macs.

With more than 45 challenging levels, there is a lot of potential here and for only $10 it’s easy to overlook many of the more serious flaws. I had some fun with Rush Bros. but I also had just as much frustration when the core premise of the game was falling apart under its own hit-and-miss beat detection. If you have somebody to play with then it might be worth checking out, but there are better music games and better platformers out there. Rush Bros. just doesn’t manage to bring them together in any meaningful way.