Grab the battle axe.
I’m no stranger to arcade brawlers and beat-em ups, I love them. Sure they are usually repetitive, rather short, and simple to a point, but that’s part of the reason I enjoy them so much. Usually fun, satisfying, and to the point without huge time commitment. So it’s with much surprise to see a new one released on the Switch I’d never heard of called Wulverblade, and I’ve had a great time with it so far.
Bash, slash, clash, in bloody fashion
Two things immediately hit me when trying out Wulverblade for the first time. The art style and the size of characters on screen. Wulverblade also features a full voiced historical story that tells of brave warriors fighting an incoming invasion. The game is colorful but no doubt the themes and battles behind it are not and it’s great to see the game give additional information on the history of events that transpired, a great addition honestly.
Price I’d Pay: $19.99
Multiplayer: 1 -2 player co-op
How long to beat: 5+ hours
Let’s cut to the chase though, battles and beating up bad guys is what we’re here for, and let me say, it’s extremely satisfying in Wulverblade. Choosing from three characters, the action begins. From low attacks, blocking, juggling enemies in the air, there is plenty of visceral combat here for such a colorful game, and the blood flows along with many heads.
Combat feels fast, and the feedback on hits and the rumble from the joy cons is nice. Levels play out in similar fashion in the genre, moving from left to right and going through hordes of bad guys. Here we have a rage meter that builds up and allows massive damage and health regeneration. Another special move involved calling down wild wolves to slaughter and maim the enemies, and it’s satisfying to see every single time. I simply can’t get over how nice and crisp the game’s visuals are in tandem with the violence occurring on screen. Brutality shouldn’t look this clean and colorful, but it works in spades. In typical fashion, boss battle of epic proportions wait for players at the end of levels, and these can be a bit grindy as they have extremely long life bars, maybe too long in some cases but otherwise are satisfying to take down.
Voice acting is surprisingly great for a title of this nature, and combined with the cinematics, I couldn’t help but enjoy listening to the story that transpired. I don’t play arcade brawlers for story, but this one is done really well. Music is suited for the time period and goes right along with the action on screen.
Genre tropes and joys
Most games released in this genre suffer from some similar problems, and Wulverblade has some of these but in other instances helps curb them. For one, the game has a variety of levels, and each session players get three lives. There is usually a checkpoint to come across and if exhausting all lives, players can resume here instead of starting all over. A good thing, as levels can last around 15 or so minutes a piece. For purists though they do offer a difficulty that gives only 3 lives and that’s it, but it will be a challenge. Another old school idea included here is that there are no fancy leveling up, skill points, etc. Players have all the abilities at the start and must figure out how to best utilize them. While some might not enjoy that aspect, I definitely think it falls in line with games like Altered Beast and Golden Axe, which I’m almost positive the dev were inspired by. I will admit there were a few times it felt like there was a bit of padding with too many enemies being thrown out before letting me move forward, but otherwise, I had a blast and this is everything I want from an arcade brawler.
Wulverblade is a blast to play, it looks and runs well, and it has rolling heads and slow motion death kills. It’s colorful yet dark, it’s a game yet it offers an educational aspect. It can feel hard at times, but the checkpoint system helped elevate that most moments. Grab a friend, a joycon, and do some split screen skull bashing because Wulverblade is a fun nostalgia romp and worth the price of admission.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.