What if you could take the thrill of gaming speed runs, the instant restart and solid game mechanics of Super Meat Boy, and levels based on the pulsing, reactive action of your own music? You have to admit, that’d be a pretty sweet game, but this isn’t it. Despite its ambitious premise of creating a platforming game that’s endlessly replayable, the game falls short on nearly every front, winding up as a promising platformer with nowhere to jump.
The Rush Bros, at one point, were the most popular techno duo this side of… well, wherever they’re from. The siblings, Treble and Bass respectively, eventually grew competitive and sought separate fame and fortune. Now they battle each other not only on the turntables, but to complete platforming levels in record time. Wait, what? But it’s cool! See, while you leap around the game’s 41 levels, they change and vibrate, ensuring some pretty intense cooperative matches, right?
Well, not really.
You see, Rush Bros is a quirky thing. For starters, the game recommends that you play with a controller, then makes the keyboard the default control scheme. Your avatar jumps, reacts and clings to walls incredibly well, but the level design is sloppy. While detailed, painterly backgrounds look cool, the decal-on-black foreground level looks incomplete, like a bunch of college kids experimented with the level editor for a period, then went home for the day. You never find a rhythm (pun intended!) as you bounce through each course because unlike the tightly-wound scenarios of Super Meat Boy, these always feel slightly off with gaps a little too wide here or too narrow there. If they’d cut the quantity of courses and boosted the quality, they’d be sitting on beau coup bucks. (Also, as a solo player, having to proactively select the next level before it dumps you to the main menu is pretty lame.)
So then we get to the level deviation, where the pace of the level’s components is dependent on the tempo of background music. Kinda. If you stick with the game’s default tracks, you may notice how different components like hazardous blades spring out in different time, but it’s such a small effect. If you were confused at how music-affected games like Audiosurf or Beat Hazard, games which used the ploy to a much greater degree, then you’ll be far more confused here. Because it’s still 1999 and licensing tracks from Spotify or Rdio is probably incredibly expensive, you’ll have to drill through your computer’s directories and manually dig out files if you want to use your own tunes. You’ll also have to do this every single time you open the game. Woo. Honestly, you’re probably better off just muting the game’s music and running your own music in the background. I doubt you’ll even notice.
Rush Bros’ layers all feel inadequate on their own, leading to a troubling and undercooked composition. It strikes an octave lower than any of its influences and is a tune well south of catchy.