Originally released in Sept. 2019 as an Apple Arcade game, LEGO Brawls now comes to all major consoles. This is a fighting game in the vein of a Super Smash Bros. free-for-all. And it offers players some 200 unlockable and customizable LEGO minifigures they can use to bash and zap blocky opponents.
The battles in LEGO Brawls take place on different themed stages with names like Alien Conquest, Jurassic World, Monkie Kid, Pirate and others. Players engage in two main gameplay modes: a local, last-LEGO-standing deathmatch; and an online, team-based contest that focuses on taking over certain spots on a map with your squad of players. The objective in both cases is to smack your opponents repeatedly and drain away their overhead health meter until they disappear. Foes can also be bounced off the floating stages.
Gameplay is quite simple and relies on a pair of up and down buttons that give players the ability to jump up to higher levels and smash down on foes, paired with a single attack button. Those button-mashed melee bashes can change a bit, depending on what weapon is equipped, such as a sword, boxing gloves, sound blaster, lightsaber, etc. But they essentially unleash the same attack force.
The small battle stages will fit up to eight players. And gamers can store up to two special moves by popping orbs that randomly appear on the field. These specials summon extra oomph in the form of vehicle (such as a blaster-equipped hoverboard; an armored car; ridable sharks; rockets and the like) or powerful, but short-lived guns and crossbows. Players also get a chance at grabbing boosts, such as pizzas, that can refill their health meters.
Battles award LEGO studs that can be gathered and used to unlock and purchase a variety of quirky LEGO figures—cat costume girl, hotdog suit guy, etc.—and tons of outfits and character elements. And each themed showcase offers special rewards, such as, for instance, a series of unique Jurassic World characters (Clair Dearing, Ian Malcom, etc.) and dinosaurs.
This game is silly and very colorful and its themed stages are appealing to look at. In fact, a big draw of the game is to unlock all the available pieces and extras and build fun and often bizarre-looking champions.
Characters are blocky and plastic-looking, thus there’s no mess when a battler is bested and crumbles into its base pieces. Though the battles can feel chaotic and frenetic at times, they’re never overwhelming or difficult to compete in since the one-button attacks are standard. That allows even young gamers a chance at button-mashing victory.
In online competition, randomly gathered players vote to determine which map and mode the collective group will experience. However, local players cannot go online together or create their own exclusive room, so playing online with only friends is not possible. In addition, the price point for this simple game is quite high at launch.
Experienced gamers looking for more strategic fights could find LEGO Brawlers disappointing and grow bored after the initial quirkiness.
LEGO Brawls is as party-game-casual as it gets. And the plastic block contests can be fun for brawl-inclined LEGO fans. But don’t expect a lot of plastic bang for your buck—especially if you’re a veteran of more sophisticated battle titles.
That, however, is about the most critical thing we could say about a game that otherwise offers players—especially younger gamers—tons of innocuous smash-‘em-up action without the content concerns that sometimes accompany similar battle royale brawlers.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.