When it comes to party games I can play with literally anyone, my gold standards are Duck Game and Runbow. If a game will allow me to play with one Joy-Con and have controls that take less than a minute to explain, I’m golden. Likewise, Juicy Cupcake’s Brief Battles is a couch multiplayer game that relies on butt pounds and flinging underwear around, and who doesn’t like that? With simple controls and a surprisingly robust single-player mode, there’s a lot to enjoy here.
Brief Battles is an action-platformer where up to four players try to destroy each other using the power of ground pounding each other, at least initially. However, with some special present pickups, they can utilize the power of special briefs to give them special projectiles or super speed, among other things. The classic mode is a free-for-all brawl where the person who has the most KOs after a set amount of time is the winner. There are also different modes here like Knockout, a last man standing mode, and Hold the Gold, a king-of-the-hill style mode where you need to control a pair of golden briefs for a set amount of time, but your opponents are trying to take those briefs off you by attacking with different powers.
The mechanics are simplistic and easy to grasp, which makes it a great party game to crank out if you have three friends you need to entertain. It’s not a terribly deep game in terms of strategic play (there are only two or three moves at your disposal), but it’s still a fun romp especially with the appearance of random powers turning the tide of battle. The physics are floaty but work well with this type of platformer, and making them tighter would be a detriment to the casual atmosphere of the game.
If there’s something that is a bit of a bummer, however, it’s how unbalanced attacks are. Your initial butt pounce is an insta-kill if it lands, whereas a few brief attacks aren’t nearly as powerful. While these weaker attacks are normally ranged projectiles, there are some powerups, such as the Buns of Steel, that are ranged and an insta-kill too, so it’s a bit odd that there’s an inclusion of a health bar. I would have rather appreciated every attack to be a one hit KO as to keep the balance of the game intact.
Additionally, there aren’t that many settings that can be changed, which is egregious since you can’t change things like time limits or stocks of lives. There are some accessibility options like changing game speed which are nice, but the limited customization of arena and rule selection leave a lot to be desired. And probably the biggest sticking point for Brief Battles: the inability to play online or with bots. While Duck Game and Runbow don’t have AI players as an option either, the online component makes up for it. If you don’t have siblings or a group of friends you see regularly, your enjoyment of local multiplayer might be a bit dampened.
On the flipside, you also have some single-player content included (which can also be played with a partner in co-op). Here, you have challenges like collecting a trail of briefs in a limited amount of time to full-blown boss battles within arenas. There’s a surprisingly large amount of content in this package, and there are unlockable skins you can obtain should you venture in this mode. Indie games like Yooka-Laylee and Machinarium are represented with the skins, so it’s a nice bonus for completionists. The health bar mechanic I don’t enjoy in multiplayer is utilized rather wisely here, as most enemies can chip away at your health but don’t outright kill you. There’s a lot of incentive to keep playing through the missions, and I would argue would make the purchase justifiable if you didn’t touch the multiplayer option.
While it does have some issues with multiplayer customization, Brief Battles is a fun time for the solo player and party animal. It’s a solid title that’s as comfortable as a pair of fitting underwear.