The early 90s was a glorious time for fighting games. There were dozens of these games all over the place for every system. Problem is though that around 1994 the whole thing started to run out of steam. Fighting games began to get silly - we had games where you could rip each other's heads off, where the people were made out of clay, games where the characters were made out of scaling balls, etc. So it was only a matter of time before someone made a fighting game where a kung-fu rabbit beats up a cheetah in a rice picker's hat.
Essentially the game is a furry version of Enter the Dragon. You play one of nine anthropomorphic martial arts animal people who have to fight all the others in some kind of tournament on an island. The boss of game is called the "Dalai Llama" (badump-cha!) who is the title holder of the "Belt of Heaven" championship.
The game looks really, really good for a no-name 16-bit fighter. Large characters look good and all have a sense of personality. The backgrounds are extremely well done, sometimes to the point that they become distracting because they're so pretty. Too bad the actual game doesn't play as good as it looks.
You get the choice of a two player arcade mode and a one player tournament mode. Problem is that the actual fighting is a bit simple and slow. The game uses the Street Fighter standard weak, medium, and strong attacks, but unlike Street Fighter there is no "interrupt," i.e. pressing a corresponding button in a chain does not interrupt the animation of the preceding attack, leading to pretty weak combos. To be fair, this is how fighting games were before Street Fighter Alpha, it just feels a bit primitive to not be able to 2-in-1 a weak or medium jumping attack into a special.
The animation is good for the characters.. sometimes. It seems to be good for all of the useless stuff, like their standing, winning, and taunt animations. Then when the character punches or kicks it suddenly goes to like a 3 step animation. This was probably done to make the game feel "faster," but it comes off as just Ghetto. The end result is that the game feels sluggish, you never get into the zone with any particular character.
Good stuff first - the graphics in the game are very detailed, with a large amount of colors and good depth of field. Some of the backgrounds are really stunning and deserve to be in a better game than this. Each character has at least three specials, some of them are pretty outlandish (like when the lion blasts you with his guitar.)
The Bad stuff - The game's A. I. is really unbalanced. Sometimes the other guy just stands there and lets you kill him, other times he rushes you right out of the gate and chains together a single special move over and over again until you die. Of course you can turn the tables - most of the computer opponents all the way up to the Dalai Llama can be killed with one or two moves, most of the time just by walking up and kicking. Once you get to the last boss you might as well turn the shit off, I wasn't able to get more than two or three kicks in before he nails you with a 100% combo. Did they have people play test this thing or what?
Overall Brutal seems to be a game best enjoyed with friends as the one player game is shallow and worthless. Really nice graphics can't make up for sluggish gameplay or unbalanced A. I.
Graphics - Nice characters that are animated well, most of the time. Incredibly stunning backgrounds that deserve to be in a better game than this.
Sound - Decent fighting game sounds, not much voice going on but it doesn't really seem needed. Largely forgettable music.
Gameplay - Slow moving characters feel like they're punching through petroleum jelly. Unbalanced A. I. and an impossible last boss severely hampers a one player game.