Overview – developed and published by Vertex Pop with physical publishing handled by Super Rare Games, Super Crush KO is an action brawler/platformer with a vibrant and unconventional color palette. Zip up your favorite neon jacket and combo your way through swarms of deadly robots to save your kidnapped kitten and, while you’re at it, save humanity from an AI apocalypse. This title is available digitally for the Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Windows, links to each version will be at the bottom of this review.
Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank Super Rare Games for providing a copy of Super Crush KO that was used for this review. The provision of this software has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.
Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review, starting with the story (taken from the official website).
Story – When a robot-commanding alien heartthrob kidnaps Karen’s adorable kitten Chubbz, Karen has no choice but to grab a laser blaster, put on her favourite neon jacket, and start kicking robot butt. Super Crush KO is a brawler with heart, intrigue, and The Cutest Cat in the Universe.
Gameplay – Super Crush KO is an action brawler, mixing beat ‘em up/run and gun gameplay with 2D platforming, taking place over several differently themed areas which each contain a set of levels and a boss battle. To combat the robotic enemies that the player will face, Karen has a selection of attacks and skills that can be used together to deal maximum damage to the enemies in battle.
The player has the ability to use combo strikes alongside special attacks and an alien blaster to take down enemies, the player can also use a jump, double jump and dodge to help her in battle. There are two types of special attack that can be used, the first consists of 4 attacks that use an energy meter that depletes each time it is used. The second special is the Super Beam KO that deals massive damage in a straight line.
Defeating enemies will cause gems to be dropped, purple gems restore some of the standard special meter and blue gems fill up the Super Beam meter. The Super Beam deals the most damage but requires a lot of gems to be filled, so it is best to use it when in a tricky situation. Each attack that the player uses adds points to a combo meter, with different point bonuses depending on the type of attack used and additional bonuses for dodging.
The combo meter also uses a rating system, building up from D to S with the meter slowly depleting over time if the player does not continue damaging foes. However, if the player is hit by an enemy or makes contact with a hazard the combo is broken, so precision and awareness is key to effective combo building as well as attack variety.
Be aware, some enemies will have special abilities and attacks that are very powerful, so mastering the dodge is important to success. Combos are important for the overall score at the end of the stage, with a ranking given depending on the score total at the end with additional special performance bonuses. The stages are separated into two different areas, standard zones and challenge zones which both function in their own unique ways.
Here is how the two different zones function;
- Standard Zone – these sections make up the majority of the gameplay, where the player battles enemies until they are prompted to continue. The combo meter that carries over as long as there are enemies being attacked, but it will run down if there is nothing in a transitional area, so maximize your combo and score as much as possible.
- Challenge/Boss Zone – these are single section locked Arena zones where multiple waves of enemies attack the player. When these zones are cleared special bonuses are provided for the ranking earned, if no damage has been taken and if a perfect combo has been achieved. The arena battles are the final challenge of each stage, with the stage being cleared when the final enemy falls. In the boss zones, the stage is cleared when the boss is defeated, but functions the same as a standard challenge zone.
The balance between action, platforming and precision movement is very good, with smooth movement and intense combat sequences that are very exciting throughout. The combo systems and score mechanics that are implemented give players a unique, rewarding experience with leaderboards that promote healthy competitive play with friends and other players. The rating system also adds replay value that pushes the player to do better with each attempt.
Now with the core gameplay covered, I will be moving onto the other aspects of the game, starting with the controls.
Controls – the controls for this release are smooth and intuitive, with reactive inputs that work very well during intense battles. All melee skills are assigned to the face buttons by default, with the triggers being used for the dodge skill and alien blaster. The movement is handled by the left thumbstick/D-pad and overall the controls are comfortable, working well in both handheld and docked gameplay modes.
Difficulty – Super Crush KO has a fair and balanced difficulty curve to the game, with a challenge that increases slowly by introducing new hazards and enemy types over time. While there is a lack of difficulty selection, the game is generous with check points, health drops and continues that can be used per level. It may feel daunting at times with the amount of enemies that appear, but the pacing and gradual escalation of the difficulty level eases this feeling.
Presentation – the overall presentation for this title is the most charming part of the experience. The use of an unconventional color palette that changes depending on the location combines well with bold, yet simple sprites that give this release a unique graphical identity.
The animations are fluid and everything flows fantastically, alongside cutscenes that consist of comic book style panels and Visual novel styled dialogue exchanges. The attention to detail in this release is a delight to behold. The icon of Karen reacting in the HUD when she is damaged, when she is low on energy and when the super meter is full, as well as the direction that Karen faces during her victory pose matching the direction she faced at the moment of victory.
The sound design works well in tandem with the visuals, featuring a calm soundtrack that is persistent with its tone throughout. However, the tempo and underlying beat will change depending on the situation, with more intense battle sections being slightly faster while still maintaining the same melodic structure. There is also a limited use of voice acting implemented into this game, which isn’t a negative as it does not detract from the experience of Super Crush KO.
Final Thoughts – overall I had a great time with this release, when Super Rare Games had announced that the game would be getting a physical release, I was excited to get my hands on it. The gameplay is fun and rewarding, with fast flowing action, exciting special moves and a ranking/leaderboard system that promotes competitive play, along with personal improvement to achieve higher scores.
This title is a must play for anyone who enjoys platform action titles, I can happily recommend it to everyone. There are no true downsides to the experience, although I will admit that some of the tougher sections can be overwhelming with the amount of enemies at once, which can cause mistakes to be made especially during boss battles. However, the difficulty of later stages does make the satisfaction of succeeding and clearing a tough battle that much greater.
In the end, I give Super Crush KO a final score of 4.5/5. This is an absolutely fantastic action brawler with aesthetically pleasing presentation, a fantastic soundtrack and gameplay that is exciting, fun and rewarding throughout. if you want to check this game out for yourself, links to the game will be below (unfortunately the physical version from Super Rare Games has now sold out).
Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)
Link to Steam version (HERE)