Frogmind is a Finnish developer best known for Badlands 1&2, a side-scrolling platformer adventure set in the bizarre forest habitat. Now the rumble in the Android and iPhone jungle can be heard again and its source is Badlands Brawl, a PvP battler and the spin-off of the original Badlands franchise. Of course, I certainly won’t say anything new if I remark that Badlands Brawl is a hybrid of several popular genres including MOBA, tower defense and collectible card games, epitomized in titles such as Clash Royale, Clash of Clans and others. However, madcap scientists from Frogmind had also included several key traits from an unlikely source with which you’re undoubtedly also familiar – a legend in its own right called Angry Birds.
From the very first look, it will be obvious that creators of the game “liberated” a couple of good ideas from all those diverse sources and pureed them the together in their own creation, afterward unleashing the surge of deadly high voltage through it, shouting “It’s alive!” in the end. Luckily, this amusing jungle mongrel can be pretty irresistible under the right circumstances, and the more you’ll play it, the more you’ll appreciate it’s capability to harmonize several completely different concepts into one game. After all, even rephrasing something in the right way takes a significant amount of skill and flair, and Badlands Brawl undoubtedly possess both in large quantities, so its rugged jungle charm will be enough for you to turn the blind eye to its lack of originality and enjoy it without any prejudices.
In essence, Badlands Brawl is a real-time PvP battler with two towers facing each other across a short distance. One of them is, of course, yours, the other belongs to your enemy. The goal couldn’t be any simpler – raze opponent’s tower to the ground and save yours from the similar humiliating fate. This may primarily remind you on Clash Royale, but the way you’ll deal with your opponent is where Angry Bird influences come into play. Each tower is equipped with a large sling: you’ll play some of the cards in your inventory (of course, they are called Clones, just like in original Badlands), put it in your sling, pull the sling under a certain angle and aim at the opponent’s tower. Activation of every card will cost you a certain amount of mana, so if you spent all you got in your reserve, you’ll have to wait until your mana bar refills. Thankfully, that happens relatively quickly (one mana for every 3 seconds), although in the heat of the battle, you’ll certainly wish that it recharges more rapidly. Of course, the amount of mana you’ll spend depends on the strength of each card, so you’ll have to carefully choose the next Clone depending on how much mana you got.
The real fun starts when you release your Clones from the sling. Some of them take shape of standard bombs and act exactly like it, others are a volley of arrows that are pretty handy when you need to stop some flying threat, and most of them serve a specific purpose. For instance, Big Smith is a heavy artillery, a large dude armed with a sledgehammer which slowly walks up to the enemy tower and thrashes it with his weapon. You’ll ideally use him in the combination with other Clones such as arrows which can provide support and defend him from different threats your opponent might unleash on him. That leads us to one of best and most enjoyable parts of the game – combos. There is a bunch of different card combinations which work in a particular synergy together, so it’ll pay off to study specifics of each of them. Also, depending on the type of Clone, the range of your slingshot can be somewhat limited and you won’t be always able to hit the tower directly. That’s why you’ll be forced to make various combos in order to reach the enemy tower with your arsenal. The important thing to keep an eye on is party rotation since each Clone will appear in a predefined order. If you know the exact order, you’ll be able to plan your strategy accordingly and ensure your victory. The basic concept of the game may be simple, but its elaboration, as well as gameplay, have many intricacies which you’ll have to master to ensure your ultimate triumph over your opponents. Between the brawls, you’ll import your clones in your party, upgrade them so that they become even stronger and, in short, do everything else to gain an edge for your next punch-up.
Despite its rather derivative nature, Badlands Brawl is unusually fun and addictive game, set in the attractive and bizarre world of Badlands. Visuals are cartoonish and imaginative, with some nicely implemented physics, a variety of unique maps which serve as an attractive backdrop for your fierce clashes with other players. Its concept may be a pastiche of a few other games, but, in its clearly set unpretentious limits, Badlands Brawl offers significant tactical scope. The only thing left for you to do is to fortify yourself in your tower, pull your slingshot and see your opponent’s three-story tower ignominiously topple down.