Have you ever wondered what a dumbed-down version of Super Smash Bros. Brawl would look like if you slapped a Spaghetti Western skin on it? Well, it would look like Sombrero: Spaghetti Western Mayhem.
Admittedly, the title alone piqued my interest. It had a charmingly silly ring to it, and there was no denying there’s a large appeal for more couch-play multiplayer games harkening back to the good old days.
But things were already off to a bad start the moment I launched the game. Navigating the menu with a mouse and keyboard felt like an exercise in fiddling with a control panel. And for whatever reason, the only way to select menu items was via arrow keys and Spacebar, while backing out of a menu required pressing Ctrl. Switching to a controller helped remedy this, but my woes had not yet ended.
I wasn’t exactly expecting a massive community, but I was also hoping I wouldn’t step into a wasteland. The online multiplayer was sadly dead on arrival. It also didn’t bode well that, at the time of writing this, the first screenshot appearing on the steam community hub is that of a gravestone.
Let’s just be clear and get this out of the way first: if you don’t have friends on standby to play this with, your enjoyment will be somewhat limited, given the lack of bots, which in itself feels like a missed opportunity.
As for how the game itself plays once you’ve found someone to play with, it’s very akin to a rapidly deflating balloon: it’s fun to play with for a few minutes, but before long, the whole thing flattens out.
There’s nothing inherently sinful about the mechanics. The shooting feels solid and there are a number of different maps featuring some destructible environments that make for pretty elaborate pandemonium as you tear away platforms, making the level more difficult to navigate.
Arguably, though, there’s almost too much mayhem, and this is coming from someone who only experienced two-player matches. This wouldn’t be such an issue if it weren’t for the fact that every single weapon kills in one single shot. The handful of maps available are by no means large, and when even the base gun fires infinite rapid-fire projectiles that can penetrate most surfaces, it mostly just boils down to dumb luck whether or not you die within the first five to twenty seconds.
It just adds to the frustration that the spawn system isn’t particularly forgiving, as there were several instances in which I got killed, only to spawn directly in front of my opponent and get demolished faster than Lucky Luke can say, “draw.” Add another two players into the mix and you’re sure to rage quit soon enough.
There are some power-ups scattered throughout the maps, including axes and plasma launchers. These help to add variety and flavor, but also feel unnecessary because of how overpowered the starting gun is. Making a run for the power-ups always felt like a madman’s suicide play when I could just as easily hold down the mouse button with the starting gun and spray a blitz of bullets in a random direction until it hit my opponent a couple of seconds later. It’s not the kind of gameplay that leaves room for a lot of thought or skill.
It’s worth noting that while my Xbox 360 controller allowed me to more conveniently navigate the menus, the shooting controls inexplicably stopped working during matches unless I switched back to a keyboard and mouse.
There are four game modes: Deathmatch, Loot, Capture the Flag, and Banditos. Of the four, Banditos entertained the most, with players having to hold onto a golden monkey idol for as long as possible. Loot and Capture the Flag play extremely similarly, with the only discernible difference being that one mode has players grabbing money, and the other has them grabbing flags.
It’s not easy harping on the negative here; you can tell the developers did genuinely care about putting effort into this game. There are several quirky characters to pick from to add some personality to it all. I mean, you can play as a cheese wedge! There are even pirates, cowboys, cowgirls, and, well … different cowboys. At the end of the day, these are all cosmetic, and it’s hard not to wish that they played differently. It would go a long way toward adding some much needed depth to the experience.
Sombrero: Spaghetti Western Mayhem is ultimately an innocent game. But it’s also a depressingly shallow game, and for the price tag of $14.99/€14.99, it’s really difficult to justify dropping cash on it, especially considering the total nonexistence of an active player base. Unless you find yourself drunk at a party with three equally inebriated participants, it’s probably best to give this one a pass.
Not the good kind of mayhem
Although initially charming, Sombrero: Spaghetti Western Mayhem simply doesn't offer the depth to justify its price tag, even for a budget game.