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Killer Queen Black Preview: Queen Back

/ Sep 20th, 2018 No Comments

Killer Queen Black Preview

If you already know about Killer Queen then you’re ahead of the curve. The game has been making a splash in arcades since 2013. With the machine in more than 40 locations around the country, savvy gamers have been tackling the five-on-five clusterfun for years.

Killer Queen is going to host its Third Annual National Championship over two days this October in Portland, Ore. Teams will compete to see who is the most dominant Killer Queen team in the nation. Those attending the event will also get an opportunity to check out Killer Queen Black. Fortunately for us, we already got an opportunity to play it at PAX West.

The home version of the arcade phenomenon changes things up a bit, but it is still as enjoyable and frenzied as its cabinet cousin.

For the Queen, or the Snail, or the Berries!

Killer Queen Black isn’t radically different than its arcade counterpart. It pits two teams again each other with one queen and several other workers. There are multiple paths to victory, keeping the chaotic and strategic gameplay in tact. Most importantly, the game is bottled lightning where you and your pals or bitter enemies duke it out to show which hive is more dominant.

Despite keeping its core in tact, there are some changes in Killer Queen Black that reduce some of the chaos and make the game more manageable in a home setting. The most obvious of these changes is the move to a four-on-four team setup. Reducing the number of workers helps make actions matter more. It also means the actions you take as a worker should be more strategic.

Black also provides a fresh makeover for the look of Killer Queen. To put it in simple terms, going from Killer Queen to Killer Queen Black is like making the jump from NES to SNES, except the upgraded graphics don’t interfere with the fast framerate and speedy gameplay.

Another major change comes in the form of the map layouts. Screen wrap now doesn’t only affect the sides of the map, but you have the option to exploit vertical screen wrap. This is a real gamechanger because it gives you a ton of options for exploiting shortcuts to help your team win.

With the changes out of the way, let’s talk about what hasn’t changed. Killer Queen Black still pits two hives against each other with three paths to victory: military, economic and snail. Those of you who are unfamiliar with the game may be wondering what that means.

Military victory occurs when your queen takes all three lives of the opposing team’s queen. This demoralizes the workers so they can’t soldier on. Economic victory is achieved when workers have filled their hives up with precious berries. It is game over when you’ve shown your ability to stockpile berry reserves like a true Scrooge McDuck. Snail victory occurs when you ride your snail to your goal. What do you want? It’s a snail victory.

Unlike chess, the queen stays the queen in Killer Queen Black. The queen is your main combat force. She is a bad b!%*h. If you’re a careless worker, she’ll pick you off, easily preventing snail and economic victories. Military victories seem easy, but when two skilled queens face off against one another, it is like watching a fencing match between two masters. Both are jockeying for the first kill, but it is lunge, parry, lunge, parry in an endless loop, forcing you to find some other path to victory. However, if your queen outclasses the other so thoroughly, it is game point before you can blink.

Workers are much slower and completely defenseless, at least to start, but they are the backbone of the game. While the queen is flashy, workers have a lot of power both in their numbers and their routes to victory. Only workers can gain economic or snail victories, meaning you have two super viable options to win a match between your three workers. Coordinating with your queen and other teammates effectively allows you to take a match quickly.
 

Killer Queen Black Preview

Killing the other team’s Queen is a sure fire way to victory.

Adding another layer of strategy to the queen-worker dynamic is the ability for workers to upgrade into warriors. This occurs when a worker takes a berry into chambers littered all across the map. Killer Queen Black has upgraded chambers where now you have a lot more choices on the type of warrior you can become.

Do you choose to become a sword- or mace-wielding badass warrior, or do you take a more unorthodox approach and supercharge your worker? Some extra offense is never a bad thing and can help prevent the other team’s workers from gaining an economic victory or riding that snail. Yet, the supercharged worker can move so fast that you can turn that snail from a jalopy into a Aston Martin, then ride it into the horizon like you’re Thelma and Louise.

Every game is a race to see which team can score the first three victories and prove their hive’s dominance. With such diverse means of victory, there are so many opportunities for close games.

During the demo, we had a nail biter of a game that came down to a few berries needing to be brought to the enemy’s hive while I tried to ride a supercharged snail to the goal with only seconds separating the margin of victory. It is the dynamic and strategic gameplay that makes Killer Queen Black such an exciting multiplayer game.

The Queen Stay the Queen

Killer Queen Black is crazy fun. While it changes up the mechanics and team size, it doesn’t lose the spirit, strategy or chaos that made the arcade version so much fun. What it does is make it easier for everyone to experience this raucous good time.

Despite not launching until early next year, the demo was pretty polished. There are still small tweaks and additions developers are looking to add into the final build, but the demo was hot fire. It’ll be exciting to see if Killer Queen Black can capture the imagination of gamers the way Killer Queen has.

Killer Queen Black launches in the first quarter of 2019 on PC and Nintendo Switch.

 

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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