Game: Lethal League Blaze
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam)
Developer| Publisher: Team Reptile
Price: USA$19.99| UK £17.99|€ 19,99 |$30 AU
Age Rating: UK 12+| USA10+
Release Date: 12th July 2019
Review code kindly provided by Team Reptile
Lethal League Blaze is a unique fighting game developed and published by Team Reptile, and is a sequel to the original Lethal League. It released in October last year for PC, and came out on Nintendo Switch and other consoles on 12th of July. There is an offline demo available.
Let’s Play Ball!
While being a 2D game with health bars it differs from a normal fighting game in a few ways. The main being that you don’t directly hit each other. Instead you hit the anti-gravity ball at each other, which increases the speed. When you hit the ball it tags as your colour and thus will hurt anyone else and vice versa.
There are four buttons, there’s hitting, bunting (which can then be hit right after to give a speed boost), grabbing and jumping. Every character has different angles they hit at, specials and unique movement. Such as Jet who has a hover pack, Dice who has to crouch to high jump and Switch who moves on a skateboard. The unique specials use an energy bar and vary wildly such as Candyman making the ball go through walls or Grip teleporting. Smash hits will hold to boost speed, which can be hit away if you don’t parry. Parrying uses your energy and can be grabbed from, but you can cancel it.
The faster the ball the harder it hits. Each match gives you a set stock, and whenever you or the opponent loses one, the ball resets. There are also targets which spawn once or twice a match, that if you hit a ball into you will get a random power up. However, this can be grabbed or used against you. Some are also better than others, personally I don’t like the football one at all.
In story, their game is called Lethal League because one person died playing it, and it has been outlawed. Obviously this takes place in a different world because there are plenty of sports where people have died even in recent times and was never met with such measures. This being a somewhat futuristic (due to intelligent robots) and light cyberpunk theme.
There is a story mode with around twenty playable missions. Story content is presented in text and picture cut scenes before and after fights. They still manage to make small plot threads weave in together. Although the actual winner of any fight is almost never acknowledged. As with most fights you can choose which of the two (or more) fighters you want to play as.
Unlockables and Modes
The game has eleven playable characters, four of which are unlocked with points. These points are earned through playing matches (playing Story Mode being a good way to get them). Other content can be unlocked, but you still need the points to get them. You can unlock new skins (mostly colour swaps but each have one skin that changes their outfit a bit more), songs, modes and stages. The unlockable characters and stages are still playable in Story Mode.
Asides from Story Mode there is the usual Arcade Mode (that being fight every character in the game in a set order), Lethal Volley and Strikers. The volleyball mode, makes the ball fall, and you can only hit it three times in your side before it explodes. It’s quite different but is a good way to practice bunting and aiming. Strikers sets a target on each side of the field and you have to break your opponents. Thankfully you cannot hurt your own target.
The main game modes can be accessed in Story, Private Online and Local Versus. These being, 1v1, free-for-all (you don’t respawn until one person is left standing) and teams. Teams is really great as you can do a lot more with someone else to hit the ball in combination with you.
There is a couple of tutorial sections which teach you most things, except for parry cancelling and the get up mechanic which you see later COMS do. If you’re interested in the finer moves you can see yakkocmn’s video on the game. Also training mode which is just you, is a great way to practice your angles and moves.
Funky Fresh Beats
The game is 2D but is made with 3D models and backgrounds in a cel shaded style. All the character designs are unique and interesting. Such as a beanie wearing crocodile, skateboarding robot and roller skating teen with a hover pack. Big characters such as Doombox have big arms, but don’t actually stretch them the whole way out when they hit.
There are ten stages, which have some change ups once the ball speed reaches a certain point. Lethal League Blaze has about nineteen songs most of which you need to unlock. I’d been listening to the soundtrack long before I got the game, as it has some very, funky fresh beats. This game looks and sounds great.
Performance wise it works pretty good on the Switch even in handheld. There is one stage, being New Rise district, which sometimes, feels like it has slowdown, but not all the time. Personally I can’t vouch for the online as I’m Australian and thus lag so bad I can’t do anything before dying. I did manage to play a couple of matches where it was playable though I imagine I was teleporting an awful lot. Unfortunately quick match is the only way to play public lobbies and there are no region options. So the only way I could play this game online is if my friends own it to host lobbies for them. Thankfully the game does have up to four player local co-op, which will be the only way I can enjoy it.
Nevertheless it is a fun game, where speed is the name. While the game might seem to be based on a sole gimmick, the real complexity comes from developing your skills, and interacting with other players.