Guilt Battle Arena has now made its way to the Nintendo Switch, with the local multiplayer brawler releasing on the handheld platform. Originally released on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, the new Nintendo Switch version brings allows you to take its couch combat action on the road with you and up to three other friends. However, whether or not this action is worth your time or money is debatable.
Guilt Battle Arena's unique gimmick is that you only have one bullet to fire at your opponents before you have to run, dash, or jump to pick it back up before being able to shoot your weapon again. Controls are relatively intuitive, with it including your typical double-jumps alongside mobility thanks to a dash that can be employed by double-tapping in either direction.
In a strange twist on the 4-player brawler genre, in Guilt Battle Arena your character walks in perpetuity on a single vertical plane. You won’t be directly controlling them, so it can be more accessible for inexperienced players who won't have to wrap their heads round the control. However, this also presents some major problems with the gameplay, as many of your deaths feel cheap and unfair with your opponent able to exploit the limited control you have over your character.. This can be especially abhorrent when considering the games single-player campaign as well.
Guilt Battle Arena’s single-player portion is barebones at best. Each level (there are eight if you generously include the tutorial) features multiple waves of adversaries to shoot your single bullet at. There is very little depth to this mode. The game would’ve benefited itself by rewarding players who try to go after every single enemy; a combo system would enforce the player to actively attack enemies during each wave, rather than encouraging them primarily to avoid most of the enemies to maximize survival/their score. Featuring only a handful of levels, enemies, and songs, there isn't a great deal of replayability here.
While you can sharpen your skills in single-player, if you’re going to attempt to reach the three-star grades for each level you might find yourself frustrated due to the difficulty of the waves. If you need help progressing through these levels, the mode can also be played co-op (with a generous revive option). Yet the single-player mode’s existence feels overall like a box that was needed to be checked, rather than a fully-fledged mode in its own right.
The multiplayer component is the main offering in Guilt Battle Arena. The mode doesn’t feature any sort of bots (yet there is the promise of the inclusion with an update in April) and can be played with 2-4 people. Amongst the unlockables, players will be able to choose one of the 45 costumes to differentiate themselves with. Modifications make this game mode less repetitive (Jetpacks is a must), and there’s also the effort to change up the gameplay by having various modes such as Capture The Flag. Overall, it’s lots of fun for a couple nights with a good crowd, though doesn't have the legs to go the distance.
It is important to note that some initial technical issues were present. When first launching my version of the game, I was greeted by two splash-screens followed by a blank black screen. I had tried redownloading the game, playing without it connected to the internet, and even playing with different user accounts, yet the game still didn’t boot up. It only eventually worked when I manually disconnected all wireless features, which meant that I had to go back and adjust the settings again if I wanted any controllers to work when not attached to the system. We're waiting on an official response from developer Invincible Cat — they informed me on Twitter that this wasn't a known bug — though it's worth noting all the same.
All things considered, Guilt Battle Arena has a fun gameplay mechanic but doesn’t execute itself properly as a full package. You aren’t going to be getting much out of it if you intend to play this game by yourself, but if you're playing it with friends you can get a few hours of fun out of it. While technical issues may vary, there isn’t a lot here to make it a solid recommendation. It’s best to wait for a sale on this one.