Mini Review: Tilt Pack – An Accessible Yet Shallow Arena Brawler


Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is undeniably brilliant, but there’s a fundamental disconnect at the heart of it. Despite its bright, inviting presentation, the series has traded its knock-about couch co-op appeal for an increasingly technical fighting system and reams of esoteric fan service.

Don’t agree? Start a game up and place a pad in the hands of a casual or non-gaming friend. See how long they last before putting the pad down, making their excuses and heading to the kitchen to make a drink.

Tilt Pack is no Smash Bros., but it does tap into a similar form of local multiplayer arena brawling without sacrificing accessibility. It’s the kind of old school multiplayer game that literally anyone can pick up and be competitive at within seconds.

That’s largely down to the game’s extraordinarily simple premise and corresponding controls. Having selected your anthropomorphic building block of a character, you must then push your three opponents off the side of the arena. This is achieved by tilting left or right on the control stick – literally the only control in the game – to make your character roll in that direction. Due to your character’s inherently oblong shape, you can lever your opponent into the air in the process of rotating.

Sadly, it never feels like you can land a genuinely meaty or destructive hit on your opponent through regular means. For this effect, you’ll need to pick up one of the power-ups that floats down at random from the sky. One will make you large, giving you more heft to throw about. Another will attach a mace to your side, which is a one-hit knock-out if you then make contact with your opponent, but will break off if you touch anything else.

But the main source of tension and threat typically comes from the arenas themselves. Across four loosely themed sets of levels, you’ll encounter stages that crumble underneath you one block at a time, levels that roll bombs underneath you, ones that morph into new shapes, and ones that introduce spikes and moving platforms.

The simplicity of the controls and the unpredictability of the action makes Tilt Pack a real leveller when you get two to four players of drastically different skill levels together onto one couch. But it also shows what a shallow, limited, and often random game it is underneath it all. There isn’t much of a learning curve here, and precious few (if any) hidden depths.

After a couple of passes through its four worlds, there’s little if anything to keep you coming back. Even the single-player mode is merely a series of encounters with AI opposition and is really not worthy of sustained attention. Tilt Pack deserves credit for offering the kind of instant arena brawler thrills that anyone can partake in. But that comes at the expense of any lasting appeal.

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