At this point, it’s been almost a year since we entered quarantine. And it’s had its ups, times when I’ve been able to live up to my magnificent self, and its had its downs, times when I’ve been reminded that we’re still living in a dystopian future. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s a long tunnel, and we’re still a ways from the end. So you know what? Let’s take that time to play some games. Here’s what I’ve been working through lately.
So, here’s one of those games I never really knew existed, but when one of the various give-you-games services landed it into my library, it really stood out. Chroma Squad is a Tactics-style strategy RPG in which you’re playing out battles for a Power Rangers-esque Super Sentai show. It lets you customize a lot about your show, from team and character names to the colors of your rangers and everything in between, which gives me incredible freedom to amuse myself with the powers of my own mind in ways absolutely nobody else will find funny, probably. From Kickass Blaster Studios, in the prime after school viewing block, hang on to your hats, boys and girls, it’s time for the totally child-appropriate show, Tooty Fruity Kill Squad! When evil is afoot, these five heroes, with a shout of “It’s Murder Time!”, will activate their Moon Prism Magic and transform into Killer Red (because every sentai group has a red leader), Killer Black, Killer Gray, Killer White (because it amused me to have a chunk of the usually colorful sentai squads be completely monochrome), and Killer Purple (because nobody ever has a purple ranger)! They’ll fight their way through hordes of goons, and then, when things get too hot to handle, unleash their team-based special move, the Eat Shit! And when their might alone isn’t enough, they’ll pilot their giant robot, the Killborg 10,000, to victory!
It rather helps that there’s a pretty simple but mechanically solid gameplay system behind it too. It’s a really basic tactics system in all, it’s grid-based and you’ve got your basic movements and attacks, a few weapons and abilities that depend on your characters classes and equipment, and an option to assist that’s really one of the things that adds a surprisingly large amount of depth to the gameplay. By assisting, your heroes will set themselves up for others to leap off of, adding a lot of range to their movement, and will also attack in unison with other rangers targeting enemies in mutual melee range, more than doubling their attack damage. If you pull off having all five members attack one enemy at once, they’ll do the team special move, the Eat Shit! in my case but you can call it something lamer if you’d like to in your game. But that’s supposed to be a finishing move, and if you use it as anything but a coup de grace, the anticlimax will make for a worse episode and you’ll lose fan power for that. Which is a thing. You need to have built up a certain amount of fan power to be able to transform from your lame everyday forms to your Killer selves, or whatever your team is named, in the first place, and beyond that, it plays a part in your overall studio management. That component feels a lot like a management sim, where you’re laying out and dealing with the resources for your own studio, but everything you do has a direct, in-combat effect, so it’s not really that in practice, more like just a really elaborate means of equipping your team in an RPG.
I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the character of the game, it does a lot of wink-wink nudge-nudge humor that seems likes it’s just trying too hard, and a lot of the enemy design is a little lackluster. You’ll be tired of fighting the same jobbers over and over again, but the bosses are frequent and varied, which works really well to keep things fresh. And the visuals, in spite of me deliberately toning down over half of my team, are very vibrant and coloful, and the music is pretty nice. Captures the old 90’s vibe really well in a primitive almost-chiptune set. Overall, I enjoyed my time with the game quite a bit. It moves quickly, and although it can be a little cringy or basic in parts, it’s a simple, fun time in all.
From a very vibrant game to one that’s carefully not. Aztez uses the old Madworld color palette of black, white, red, and nothing else. It’s a hard game to describe. Particularly given that I don’t especially understand it myself. It’s half board game, half smackdown? Something like that. So, in a given game, you’re playing in ancient Mexico, trying to do… something. I thought you were trying to take over cities and force out rival tribes, but then I won the game without doing that. Anyways, you start with board game parts, managing your towns and resources and what not. One of your resources are your warriors, and you get to do one major thing per warrior per turn. So more warriors equals more turns. The bulk of the things in this are combat challenges, where you get to the smackdown gameplay. I don’t know why, but that part of the game reminds me a lot of Viewtiful Joe’s post-game challenge levels. It has a similar feel to combat, and a lot of it is based on keeping track of enemies and making appropriate reactions to their telegraphed attack, much like Viewtiful Joe. Except you can absorb your opponent’s blood and use that to summon your god to smack them around. As you do.
Anyways, in my game, I spent most of my time campaigning against my rival tribes, pushing them back and stealing their territory, aiming to eradicate them as is usually the win condition in those types of strategy games. I almost got to that point, but then the Spanish arrived, with their armor and their guns and their better equipment than me, and they started completely crushing my guys. With clever use of items, I managed to push them back to the borders of the map, then devoted all my remaining warriors to taking them down so I could smash my rivals in peace. They killed all but the last of my warriors, but that last one brought down the guy with the biggest feather in his helmet, and that apparently meant that I won the game, even though my rivals now were in a perfect position to retake my land after I spent all I had in fighting the Spanish. So, I guess there’s a moral to the story. And that moral is that the true path to victory runs through beating up the Spanish.Continue reading