Super Crush K.O. Review: Cat Powerrr
Kalvin Martinez / Jan 16th, 2020 No Comments
Video games are a bizarre medium. As much as technology helps move the medium forward, there is always a force pulling it back trying to relive “glory days” or channel an “old school” aesthetic. Whether it is simply nostalgia or a personal preference for the way games used to be made, chasing that “back in the day” vibe can be detrimental.
Super Crush K.O. walks a fine line as a beat ‘em up where it hits a balance between nostalgia and modernity. It hits those nostalgic notes with its simple yet engaging story and strong, snappy combat. However, it isn’t afraid to add depth and complexity to its gameplay by giving its combat a speed and fluidity that is more in line with a modern action game.
It is a tale as old as time: girl is chilling with her cat when some evil alien busts through her wall and steals her cat. This catnapping is an aggression that won’t stand prompting Karen, now cat and friendless, to chase after the dastardly otherworldly burglar, Ann. Reuniting with her beloved cat, Chubbz won’t be easy. Standing between Chubbz and her is alien malice and an army of foul mecha.
While it is only a half joke that we’ve seen this story before, it is wildly effective. The A to B of Karen’s cat being stolen and her wanting Chubbz back allows you to buy her mission and motivation without hours of needless set-up and exposition. It is good to see a simple narrative be a good vessel for the game’s strong gameplay.
Despite being decidedly “old school” in its approach, the narrative isn’t merely about set-up. Super Crush K.O. maximizes its story beats to add depth to both the conflict and the characters of Karen and Ann, and also a way to infuse humor and personality into the game. By utilizing the dialogue in between each level, we get a glimpse at Karen’s determination and frustration and Ann’s nonchalant and cavalier attitude. It is a good contrast between protagonist and antagonist that works well as the story builds towards its conclusion.
Concession Stand Combos
As an homage to Super Crush K.O’s elegant story, let’s keep the conceit of its gameplay concise. It is a beat ‘em up. If you’ve played Streets of Rage, River City Ransom, Final Fight, or Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game then you have a good idea what you’re getting. Karen packs a punch (and kick) and uses her moves to take out Ann’s vicious robot mecha army.
While the game reads distinctly as a beat ‘em up, on that level it is a stellar example of the genre, but it is more than that. Unlike classic beat ‘em ups or the wonderfully retro homage, Scott Pilgrim, Super Crush K.O. has a lot more in common with a modern action game from PlatinumGames or Guacamelee! The beat ‘em up acts as a structure for the game’s combat, which is more fluid and dynamic than your average beat ‘em up.
Having played a few beat ‘em ups recently, there is a limitation to the combat either by a flaw in the design or adhering too much to the old school ideology of the genre. This generally results in enjoyable combat that can often feel too simple or stunted without additional systems being layered on top of the action. Super Crush K.O. doesn’t suffer from this drawback.
Combat in Super Crush K.O. is not only crisp and snappy, but it has a ton of personality thanks to Karen’s moveset being modeled and named after different snack foods like the Uppercut Slice, Air Pop, Ground Shake, and Twister Drill. These special moves augment Karen’s bread and butt kicks and punches.
Although you need special meter to employ Karen’s special attacks, you recharge a ton of meter as you fight and destroy robots. This symbiosis between special moves and meter recharges is where the dynamic and fluid gameplay comes into play. Witnessing Karen move from an uppercut into a corkscrew forward attack back into another uppercut to juggle and ending with a downward spiral kick is majestic.
Combos are important to the rankings for each level, and by chaining your various special moves with normal punches and kicks, you can continually wreck enemies on your way to the coveted S ranking. Special attacks alone won’t get you that S rank, however. It is important to time dodges to avoid damage resetting your combo meter, and to utilize Karen’s gun and shots to keep a combo meter going as enemies reset for more melee mayhem.
Super Crush K.O.’s biggest strength is how easy it is to pick up. The streamlined systems means anyone can be successful, but the way the systems work together it opens up for a lot of complexity and dynamic play. It also helps that in addition to the core moveset, Karen can unleash a devastating Super Beam K.O. that wipes out enemies across the screen.
While fighting groups of mobs is where the game shines, its boss fights show how dramatic gameplay can be. Thanks to the hulking mecha and their screen filling attacks, boss fights demonstrate the need to meld dodging, shooting, basic and special attacks elegantly. This is not only to increase your combo ranking, but to avoid taking too much damage. Boss fights are marathons where you need to react quickly and get creative to best them and get that sweet, sweet S ranking.
Super Crush K.O. is an absolute delight. From its vibrant and lush visuals to its smooth gameplay and light hearted story, you can’t resist the game’s good vibes. The best part about the game is it doesn’t wear out its welcome. Like an Uppercut Slice it is quick, snappy and hits you square in the jaw.
Super Crush KO was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the developer.
tags: Nintendo Switch , Nintendo Switch review , review , Super Crush K.O. , Super Crush K.O. review , Switch , Vertex Pop