Brotherhood United is a unique little title. It is as simple as they come, and a reminder of some of the lesser titles of old. It has a charm about it that makes it worth playing, but it is far from perfect. Introduction aside, let’s get into this!
The story for Brotherhood United is fairly simple, albeit unique. It made me laugh out loud when I learned that the whole game is based on saving your criminal friends, because like the mob mentality, “Nobody messes with the Brotherhood.”
It starts off with you being introduced into the Brotherhood, and then out of the blue, some of your comrades are taken by a rival gang. You are simply instructed to fight for your friends, and you must make sure the enemies pay for what they have done, no matter what.
Like I said, it is simple, but at the same time, it is a fun little concept. The dedication of the Brotherhood is obviously deep, because although you are just being inducted into the group, you literally kill hundreds of enemies to get revenge and save your brothers.
Brotherhood United is a 2D action platformer where you exist on a simply designed 2D plane as you run and gun down your enemies. Imagine a lighter version of Contra where you and the enemies have more health.
You progress through a series of levels that take place in a variety of areas, from the city to a high tech base to a cave, for example. The enemies are quite varied for such a small game, which was a surprise to see, and the way they progress is actually quite nice. It never felt like you were introduced to high-powered enemies too early, so Brotherhood United does a wonderful job gradually increasing its difficulty and expectations of the player.
Since it is a simple 2D game, your actions are also quite simple. You are able to move freely around each stage, including jumping on to platforms and dropping down from them as well. You have your trust pistol, but you will also be picking up tons of different weapons throughout the game. The attention to the gun controls are much-appreciated, too. You can switch guns with ease ZL, and you can aim at 45 degree angles with the L and R buttons. This makes for quick change outs and rapid fire killing once you get used to the controls. Your character can also roll with A and throw grenades with X. Learning to roll, especially, is key for avoiding overcrowded situations and such.
At the end of each stage, you will be presented with a lovely scoring system. The way Brotherhood United rates your gameplay is by three factors; killing all the enemies, saving all your bros, and not dying. You will earn one star for each of these accomplishments, but it does not really affect the gameplay or your progression. It seems to exist solely for those who like a good challenge.
Dying is a lot like the games of old as well. You have a certain amount of lives per stage, and losing all of those lives will be a game over and a restart from the beginning of that level. Although this method feels a bit archaic and arcadey, I quite liked it. It allowed me to start areas over with a better knowledge of what to do, so it served as a great motivator of sorts, since the stages are not too long.
The boss fights are all unique and quite fun, to be honest. I found a couple of them to be a little frustrating, but for the most part, the bosses all provide great challenges and test your skills more and more with each passing one. You can definitely tell that a lot more love went into some of these bosses, because the quality difference between some of them is almost like night and day.
The platforming in Brotherhood United is probably the most disappointing thing. The jumping often felt clunky, and in certain areas where it expects you to make tight jumps on disappearing floors, I expect some fluid and smooth platforming. However, more often than not, the jumping was problematic and caused a lot more frustration than it should have, which is quite disappointing considering the action side of the game is quite good.
Brotherhood United also has couch co-op, and it is a lot of fun, actually. As should be the case, co-op raises the difficulty by adding more enemies in each level and by giving the bosses more health. It is a great little addition that just adds a whole lot more value to the game. Like Contra, Brotherhood United is just better with a friend.
The audio is probably the greatest aspect of the game. It is a surprisingly catchy soundtrack, and each passing stage provides new music to go alongside the new environments. The menu music and boss music are also a lot of fun and really give the game an oldschool NES feel.
The sound effects are great as well, especially the guns and how distinct each and every one is by the sound they make. The clear difference between even the different handguns is quite noticeable, so I have to give props to the sound team for doing such an awesome job.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE
Brotherhood United is a decent-looking pixelated game. Although I appreciate it a lot and the nostalgic look, it was not that impressive. Foregrounds and backgrounds were pretty generic, and many of the bros and enemies skins are the exact same design. The bros, especially, is a little disappointing. You keep saving the same two guys, which makes it look like the Brotherhood consists of 49% old dude and 49% long-hair dude. The other 2%, I assume, is represented by you and the couple other bros that were not captured.
The boss designs are mostly pretty good, particularly the bigger and more challenging ones. I would have loved to see a bit more introduction to each boss upon meeting them, though. There were times where the boss music would start, and I could not see the boss at all. A little heads up would have been nice.
Finally, the Press Any Button animation before you get to the main menu is excellent. Although it is a bit graphic, I appreciate the aesthetic, and it immediately gives you a feel for what the game is all about.
Brotherhood United is honestly an incredible deal, and it has a lot to do with its pricing. For $8.99 in the US, 7.49 in the UK, and 8.29 in the EU, you are getting a lot of game for your money. There are 20 levels with side quests in each one of them, customization options for your character, lots of weapons to play with, and of course a wonderful little co-op mode to play with your friends.
It is not the best game in its genre, but for the price, it is absolutely worth it for a good laugh and a shootin’ good time. If you are able to play this with someone in couch co-op, it is even better.
Story - 6/10
Gameplay - 7/10
Audio - 8/10
Visuals & Performance - 6/10
Value - 8/10
Brotherhood United is a fun little game that has a fun charm about it. It may not be the greatest action platformer out there, but for the very reasonable price, it is absolutely worth checking out to save all of your bros. The action, the shooting, and the boss fights, particularly, are a lot of fun, and the music is top-notch. It definitely has my approval!
- Fun single and co-op action
- Good boss fights
- Fantastic music
- Great price
- Some clunky platforming
- Lack of variety in bro sprites
- Bland level textures