Team-ups, crossovers, and other collaborations between franchises are fun. It’s a pretty common phenomenon in fighting games, where crossover can almost be its own subgenre. It’s always fun to play out “what if?” style battles between characters of different franchises. Bounty Battle takes that mentality, and applies it to indie games, giving them a crossover fighter of their own.
Bounty Battle is a fighting game that brings together characters from around twenty different games. As it goes in these types of crossovers, a mysterious force snatched these characters from their home dimension, and pitted them against each other in a battle that determines the fate of the universe. At least, that’s what the store page says. Beyond the pretty cool opening cinematic, there really isn’t a story, and the closest thing Bounty Brawl has to a story mode is the single player tournament mode. But that’s okay, because the most important aspect of any fighting game are the fighting mechanics.
Mechanically, Bounty Battle is a mixed bag. It’s certainly fun to play, but it took me a while to warm up to it. I think that’s partially because of all of the different moving parts you have to pay attention to. In most fighting games, you can usually get by with mashing buttons, but Bounty Brawl uses a system which penalizes you for doing so. If you spam too many attacks and run out of energy, you can actually be stunned in place, and open to an attack yourself. Theoretically, this could lead to more strategic type gameplay, but the fighting never really felt tight enough to justify that. Blows land with a spongy feeling, and I think that’s because character hitboxes are hard to nail down.
I still had a lot of fun playing Bounty Battle, but it’s one of strangest feeling fighting games I’ve played in a while. I’m sure most of the quirks can be figured out through putting time into it, but it’s really a matter of acquiring the taste or liking it from the start. I just never found myself getting into Bounty Battle.
In addition to health and energy, Bounty Battle uses a bounty system. Defeating an opponent that has been labeled as ‘wanted’ nets a payout. You can use your bounty currency to summon minions. Each of the thirty fighters has this own minions—in addition to their own unique playstyle.
It seems like Bounty Battle took the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate approach to fighters, and crammed as many into the game as possible. Like the fighting mechanics, the roster of fighters is a mixed bag. I tried them all a few times, and I have yet to find one that really stood out to be my ‘main.’ There are a few factors that played into this—the main one being the lack of multiplayer, besides couch co-op and Steam’s Play Anywhere. Without multiplayer, I was stuck playing against the AI.
The AI in Bounty Battle isn’t the greatest. I found I could easily rack up enemy opponents by spamming certain moves. With some ranged characters I simply pressed ‘fire’ repeatedly until my opponent was defeated. Longevity for Bounty Battle depends on having a community of players to fight against, and without native multiplayer support, it might be dead on arrival.
Bounty Battle is further hampered by its strange art style. Each individual component looks good, but together it ends up seeming like a hodgepodge. I guess that could be blamed on the amount of disparate franchises meeting together, but the characters from those franchises are drawn in Bounty Battle’s style so that really isn’t it. Also, I don’t know if it just isn’t supported, but I could only get the game up to 1080p, which looked dreadful on my 1440p monitor.
I tried to get into Bounty Battle, but it just isn’t a fighting game I could adapt to. It has a high barrier to entry with all of its systems to micromanage. It has a lot of fighters, but even with their unique abilities, none really stood out as particularly fun. It doesn’t help that Bounty Brawl doesn’t have the tightest controls, and hit boxes are hard to pinpoint, making enemies feel spongy to hit.
Bounty Battle is available now on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
If you like the video game, tabletop, or other technology content that Third Coast Review has to offer, consider donating to our Patreon. We are the only publication in Chicago that regularly reviews video games, and we cover lots of local Chicago-based events and more. If you want to contribute to our coverage of Chicago’s video game scene (and more) please consider becoming a patron. Your support enables us to continue to provide this type of content and more. Patreon.com/3CR
You can also catch us streaming games we’re reviewing and staff favorites at twitch.tv/bokor