Oh man, I have some good memories from playing the original Lethal League. Lethal League is a competitive projectile fighting game where you have to hit an anti-gravity ball into the face of your opponent to win. This is a simple yet effective formula that resulted in memorable moments playing against my friends and family. Unfortunately, that was a fairly niche game and did not receive the attention it deserved. It was insanely simple and yet insanely fun. Now, Lethal League is back with a sequel in the form of Lethal League Blaze. The sequel improves upon just about every single aspect of the original.
Perhaps most significantly is the switch to 3D graphics which completely brings the game to life. Impressively, this sequel stays true to the original 2D animation visuals and the extreme, high speed experience of the original Lethal League whilst upgrading to 3D. This upgrade has allowed for many possibilities that were simply impossible with the original.
The gameplay is what will keep you coming back for more with Lethal League Blaze. It’s fast-paced, competitive, creative and downright fun. Smacking the ball into your enemy or enemies seems simple enough but there’s so much more to it than that and many nuances that add substance to the general gameplay. It’s similar to racket sports and that back-and-forth builds tension all the time. You know that one slip could bring an amazing rally to an end.
There are 11 characters available at least at launch. The majority of which return from the original Lethal League with some new additions. Primarily, the boss from the original, Doombox, is now a playable character in Lethal League Blaze. That’s double the number of characters at launch than the original had with the promise of more being added post-launch. Each character has their own unique vibe and style and is the main drivers of the game’s immersion with their upbeat personalities. Personally, I would have liked to have seen just a few more characters but this is also understandable as the studio’s second-ever console game.
Lethal League Blaze has the same feel of Super Smash Bros, even more so than some Super Smash Bros clones out there. At its heart it is a party game just like Smash Bros; best enjoyed when you and a group of friends are competing against one another. It’s the ability to jump in and pick it up with relative ease that definitely helps introduce players. So if you invite friends over that have never played it before they need not fret. Where things aren’t so easy is definitely in the online mode. If you want to avoid getting thrashed it is probably best to learn the ropes offline as I did.
Lethal League Blaze is an absolute sensation for your senses. From the visually popping and vibrancy aesthetic to the pop, pop, bang, and thump of the music that will electrify your ears. The impressive soundtrack features artists such as Hideki Naganuma of Jet Set Radio fame, Klaus Veen, Frank Klepacki of Command & Conquer fame, Pixelord and many others. There’s just so much to enjoy from the fast-paced twitch gameplay to the visuals, the sounds, the feel and the competition. For this genre of game, this is the closest you can get to a complete package.
This is nothing more than the competition in its purest form and it will bring out the worst in you and your friends. You can play locally and online with up to 4 players. If you can’t have your friends round to play then the online mode allows you to invite friends for a Private Match. Or, you can head into a Quick Match.
This is a game that’s easy to pick up but hard to master. Over time, you will naturally refine your skills and if you are a competitive nature in person you might find yourself sinking a lot of hours into playing. After all, practice makes perfect. More skilled players will evolve with the use of smashes, bunts and special abilities. In a fast-paced game like this, the most crucial thing is timing. The gap between the skilled and the unskilled lies in knowing the timings. Parries and countering will allow you to further develop your skill before you reach God level and start pulling-off taunts mid-game.
Be warned, things will get competitive and loud. It is not a good idea to play Lethal League Blaze late at night with your friends, at least, if you wish to avoid noise complaints that is.
Ultimately, Lethal League Blaze most definitely avoids the sequel curse and is an impressive and substantial improvement over the original. The switch from 2D to 3D opens up a whole new world of possibilities. The addition of new characters, modes, and moves keep this game feeling fresher and as unique as ever. Some minor online issues and perhaps a tough skill gap in online play are the only minor setbacks. For some raw, simple, competitive fun you really cannot go wrong with Lethal League Blaze which is a standout and must-buy in this genre.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*