The Humble Brawler Bundle doesn’t contain much brawling, but is a great fighting game starter pack

Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-

It’s not just me, right? A brawler (also known a beat-em-up) is a game in the vein of Final Fight or Streets Of Rage, no? A duo or trio of co-op heroes against waves of expendable mooks? Well, the Humble Brawler Bundle doesn’t contain any of those.

What it does contain is a great selection of fighting games to start off the collection of someone looking to get into the genre, mostly focused around the back-catalogue of Arc System Works, who recently shook up the scene with Dragon Ball FighterZ.

It also contains a lot of Anime, with a capital A. You have been warned.

So, what you get for $1 or more is a trio of solid 2D fighters. Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R has a RIDICULOUS title, but it’s the final sprite-based Guilty Gear game, offering lightning fast air-dashing combat with a lot of characters and even more refinement. BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend is similarly silly in its naming, but more restrained. Not the latest game in the series (that’d be BlazBlue Central Fiction), but nothing in this bundle is.

BlazBlue is a little more measured in its combat, but balances it out with an enormous Visual Novel hybrid story mode. Lastly in the cheapo tier is Skullgirls, Lab Zero’s indie fighting debut and a rock solid game in its own right. It also has a famously extensive tutorial mode that teaches general fighting game theory as much as its own systems. There’s a lot of tricks you can pick up here that apply to any game in this bundle.

Up in the Beat The Average tier is Arcana Heart 3 LOVE MAX!!!!! with five exclamation marks – count em’. An extensive all female cast, and an interesting gameplay wrinkle in the Arcana system, where you pick what special move and spell-set each fighter goes into the next round with. In the straight-laced corner is Street Fighter x Tekken, which is exactly what it says on the tin. Essentially a Street Fighter 4 spinoff with a bunch of Namco characters paying a visit.

At the top tier, but only $9, you’ve got the headlining game, Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-, the first in the new-generation Guilty Gear games, where Arc System Works first cut their teeth on the Unreal engine. This is where they developed their own tech to render authentically anime-like action on a 2D plane with fully 3D character models. It’s a real treat for the eyes, and the most ridiculous showcase of that is the story mode, which removes gameplay entirely in favour of effectively delivering an entire anime series using the game’s assets.

Lastly, we’ve got Rivals of Aether, an indie-made Smash Bros-like which features Ori (from Ori and the Blind Forest) among its DLC characters. On that note, all the games in this bundle are the basic edition, so if there are any updates, expansions, DLC or followups, you don’t get them here, but for $9? You can’t go far wrong if you’ve got at least one friend and two gamepads to hand. You can pick up the Humble Brawler Bundle here.

Oh yeah, if you want a really good brawler, check out Fight’n Rage, which I reviewed a while back. I still stand by my opinion that it’s one of the best ever made.

22 Comments

  1. Jalan says:

    It’s… cute that they tossed in Street Fighter x Tekken. It’s the fighting game still saddled with GFWL that Capcom clearly knew was dead in the water when it came down to actively removing GFWL from either it or Street Fighter IV.

    • pepperfez says:

      Wait, it still has GFWL? Like two years after the service shut down?!

      • HiroTheProtagonist says:

        Real talk, SFxT has pretty much been abandoned since 2013. It came out, got slammed by hardcore fans and casual players for on-disc DLC as well as the gem system, saw one small influx of new fighters, mainstaged a single EVO tournament, then was quickly relegated to the trash heap the second USFV came out. That it never got GFWL removed is just testament to how little a shit everyone gave about the game.

  2. Railway Rifle says:

    I’m irrationally disappointed that “Humble Brawler Bundle” isn’t a crossover multiplayer fighting game that’s Super Smash Bros for indie or PC gaming, where I can have the boy from Limbo beat up characters from Undertale and Gunpoint, or whatever my heart and the licensing agreements desire.

    • NuclearSword says:

      Look up “Bounty Battle” or “Indie Pogo”. I’m not following them but… it seems like Limbo boy and Undertale girl should be in at least one of them, probably :P

      If you’re looking for really good “Smash but PC” games, sans cameos from other games, then Brawlhalla, Rivals of Aether, Earth Romancer, and ICONS: Battle Arena should definitely be on your radar. Though Earth Romancer needs some love from Kickstarter first… and some attention from some gaming sites to spread the word about it first, I guess.

      • Railway Rifle says:

        A good answer, more than my comment deserved really. Thank you.

  3. NuclearSword says:

    You’re 100% right! That was the first thing I thought when I read the title of this bundle – “Oh, it must have Castle Crashers, Fight n’ Rage, Phantom Breaker: Battlegrounds, River City Underground, or Sacred Citadel maybe”.

    I take my genre descriptors seriously, Humble! * shakes fist *

    Been calling those games brawlers, beat’em ups – or belt-scrolling beat’em ups – since the days of BattleToads and Streets of Rage, dagnabbit. Kids today already screw up their gaming terminology enough – I can’t believe how many describe 2D games talking about “models” and “textures” instead of “sprites” and “tilesets”- and they don’t need you guys screwing them up more!

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a cloud to yell at dagnabbit!

    (for real though, brawlers like Fight n’ Rage, River City, Mother Russia Bleeds, Wishmere, the Takeover and Phantom Breaker should totally be bundled together someday, Humble)

    This is a pretty great fighting game bundle though.

    • fuggles says:

      Oh god yes! I was equally hoping it would contain brawlers and would immediately have bought top tier. This? Pass. I have MvC3.

    • Babymech says:

      If they had said ‘Beat ’em ups’ there would have been beat ’em ups. Because everyone knows that that’s the real term. “Brawler” is the aka, also known as ‘not a real thing’.

      • fuggles says:

        No, after sf2 the term beat em up didn’t really specify. Similar to how FPS are no longer shoot em ups.

        Brawler is pretty standard now fighting games exist.

        • Babymech says:

          Is this some kind of British thing? Fighting games have been fighting games since street fighter ii or so. Beat em ups have been beat em ups since double dragon or so. FPS’s have never been shoot em ups – shoot em ups are gradius, commando or the like. ‘Brawlers’ are a poorly defined area – maybe Final Fight Streetwise?

    • Addie says:

      I would probably have considered ‘brawler’ to have meant arcade-style, combo-heavy, many-on-one games. So Devil May Cry, Bayonetta, Lords of Shadow, God of War, Darksiders, that kind of thing, as well as the 2d, ‘retro’ brawlers.

      • BooleanBob says:

        I thought those were the bafflingly named Character Action Games. God, I can’t keep up anymore.

        • Babymech says:

          If they’re fast and stylish (Bayo, Revengeance) they’re character action. If they’re slow and clunky (Final Fight Streetwise) they’re brawlers. link to youtube.com

    • mitrovarr says:

      I was also disappointed it wasn’t more of a side-scrolling beat ’em up affair. I don’t really get the point of buying a stack of fighting games – to me, they’re one of those genres that is only fun if you get really good at it and play it against other people, and playing a bunch of different ones would make it impossible to get decent at any of them.

  4. TotallyUseless says:

    These guys over at Humble are doing some false advertisement, saying you’ll get Darksouls 3 if you subscribe to their monthly thing. I ended up getting a whole different game!

    Heck, from now on all my purchases from them, they won’t receive any tip and just split the purchases between Charity and Devs. :P

    • bmxbandit says:

      Err, it informs you prior to purchase if you’re not eligible for the games listed – as I’m in Japan, I can’t get DS3 either. When I went to the Monthly bundle page, it notified me at the top of the screen that I would receive a copy of Civilization: Beyond Earth – The Collection instead. Perhaps you didn’t notice it.

  5. Babymech says:

    Remember, not xerrd like the watch, but ICKZARD like the air.

  6. Sic says:

    PSA:

    Guilty Gear, BlazBlue and pretty much anything Arc System Works create is not silly anime nonsense. They’re the best fighting games in existence. This pack has insane value if you don’t have any of these games.

    • malkav11 says:

      You’re introducing a false dichotomy. They can be the best fighting games in existence -and- ridiculously silly anime nonsense. And they are. In the best possible way.

      • Sic says:

        Whilst true, my point is: don’t dismiss them just because they look silly!

  7. Throwback says:

    The first Guilty Gear: not the latest, don’t bother if you want to play online.

    Skullgirls – excellent team fighter, you will need to use discord if you want games.

    BB CS EX – not the latest version, don’t bother if you want to play other people.

    GG XRD SIGN – can get you to the latest GG through DLC I believe. Probably worth it if you want to get into GG (which is a fantastic game).

    Rivals of Aether – brilliant. It’s paced like melee, but without stupid tech such as L-cancelling. Very balanced, very fast. Highly recommended.