Review – Bounty Battle

Bounty Battle was initially unveiled a few months ago, and it surprised the hell out of me. It had one of the coolest premises I have seen in a while: a Super Smash Bros-inspired party brawler with a roster comprised solely of characters from famous indie franchises. What a stroke of genius! I knew I wasn’t going to get something with the size and scope as Sakurai’s pride and joy, but I was still excited nonetheless. The premise was way too good for me to ignore. Sadly, I was wrong. Bounty Battle is finally out and is without a doubt one of the most disappointing games I’ve played so far this year.

Bounty Battle

Look at all these famous characters onscreen! This should have been exciting! Sadly, it isn’t.

At its core, you can already imagine what Bounty Battle is all about. Think of Super Smash Bros, but remove the Nintendo all-star roster, and replace it with some of the most famous indie characters of this day and age. You have characters from games like Owlboy, Guacamelee, Flinthook, Dead Cells, Blasphemous, Battle Chasers: Nightwar, and much more. You have a handful of game modes, online multiplayer, single joycon support, and so on. In theory, an absolute winner. The problem lies in the game’s execution.

Let’s start with the presentation. Bounty Battle isn’t a good looking game. When you analyze each character individually, they don’t look all that bad. They are well-designed and look like their original counterparts. Things go downhill when you put them alongside each other. They look like cardboard cutouts, as they are poorly animated and feature completely different art styles from one another. The game kept reminding me of those Flash-based Smash clones that feature Goku fighting Mickey Mouse and Geno from Super Mario RPG. The arenas didn’t look all that impressive either. They are pretty much identical from one another, as they don’t feature platforms or traps. They are basically a background that barely resembles the game they’re based on. To add insult to injury, Bounty Battle‘s framerate isn’t very stable.

Bounty Battle

Every level in Bounty Battle is basically Final Destination with a different background. Hooray…

The sound department might actually be the worst aspect in Bounty Battle. Everything sounds so cheap and undercooked. The soundtrack is underwhelming, being really discreet and generic. Characters don’t feature voice clips, and the game barely features sound effects as a whole. You’ll constantly beat the living crap out of an enemy, and you won’t hear a punch landing onto their face, for instance. The game’s announcer is the only voice you’ll hear throughout the game, and boy is he annoying. He sounds like someone pretending to be the Killer Instinct announcer, so you can already imagine how out of place he feels in here.

Finally, there’s the gameplay, the bread and butter on any fighting game like this. All the developers had to do was copy Smash’s gameplay and control scheme and call it a day. No need to fix what isn’t broken. You can already imagine, by the tone of my review, that this wasn’t the case. Bounty Battle’s gameplay didn’t remind me of Super Smash Bros at all. It reminded me of freaking Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale. You know, the game that featured less special moves per character and a dedicated jump button in a fighting game.

Bounty Battle

This is the most Rated PG-13 you’ll ever get from the Blasphemous protagonist.

That’s exactly how Bounty Battle feels. Not only does it have a jump function assigned to the A button (they didn’t have the decency to assign it to the B button), but each character features very few moves and they all feel sluggish. Everyone feels like the slow, tanky character from your run-of-the-mill fighting roster. There is also a noticeable amount of input lag, to make things even less pleasing.

Bounty Battle

Everyone is so slow to the point that they make Smash’s Ganondorf feel like Fox in comparison.

I am beyond disappointed. Bounty Battle has such a fantastic premise and such an amazing roster, but calling this half-baked doesn’t even scratch the surface of its issues. It looks bland, its sound department is mediocre at best, it features an underwhelming selection of modes, it’s a bit glitchy, and to top things off, its gameplay is just not fun. This is not a good Smash clone. It doesn’t make me want to play it for hours on end. It ended up making me want to play as these characters in a future Super Smash Bros Ultimate update instead. You know, a game that’s actually fun to play…

 

Graphics: 6.5

The characters in this game’s roster are individually well-designed, but they do not look great next to one another. The animations are simplistic and the arenas look dull.

Gameplay: 5.5

It does the cardinal sin of reminding me more of Playstation All-Stars‘ gameplay than Smash‘s. The button placement is simply not good. Characters feel sluggish and there is a noticeable amount of input lag.

Sound: 4.5

The soundtrack is very unimpressive, the narrator speaks like a Killer Instinct announcer wannabe, and the game is basically devoid of voice clips or sound effects. It’s beyond disappointing.

Fun Factor: 5.5

This is such a fantastic concept, but so poorly executed. The selection of modes is underwhelming, the presentation is subpar, and the gameplay is just not good enough.

Final Verdict: 5.5

Bounty Battle is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Bounty Battle was provided by the publisher.