To set your expectations at a reasonable level, you should look to the cost of Tiki Brawl rather than its cover art. It can be purchased for less than one dollar and has all the complexity you might imagine of a game with that price tag.
Tiki Brawl is a melee game with only one playable stage. The static background shows a paved colosseum with moss and vines crawling over crumbling columns. Up to eight colourful characters with cartoonish Tiki mask faces try to throw each other into a fire pit in the middle of the screen.
There isn’t a directory of the items you can find, so figuring out which ones you’ll like is a matter of trial and error. They include effects like super speed, extending your reach or teleporting you across the room. They can be somewhat unpredictable and sometimes the impact is barely noticeable. Strategy doesn’t really come into it. Using items often feels like taking a risk that it might hinder rather than benefit you. But on the off chance it’s good, you might still grab it just so no one else can.
The controls are simple. You move around, grab and throw other players and use any power ups you collect along the way. They can bit a little bit clunky. It’s difficult to tell if you’re facing the right direction to throw someone in the fire and sometimes your victim might go flying in completely the wrong direction. Other times, you might try to get closer and end up falling in yourself.
Tiki Brawl is designed to be a local multiplayer game, with the option of playing against bots if you’re on your own. The bots aren’t particularly challenging though and there aren’t alternate difficulty options, so it’s fair to see why the studio recommends playing with friends. The downside to this (particularly in 2020 when a lot of the planet is restricted when it comes to having lots of people in one room) is that there is no online play option. It means the game gets tired fairly quickly if you don’t have lots of people around to play with.
Given the game’s incredibly low price, it would be silly to go into it expecting too much from it. But there are lots of games on the Nintendo e-shop that are equally cheap or even free that have a bit more going for them. On top of that, Flynn’s Arcade, the studio that produced Tiki Brawl, have a wide variety of games that, while still fairly low budget, stand out for being quirky and creative in a way that Tiki Brawl doesn’t.