Super Crush KO Review
I love it when a game just clicks for me. I’m talking about that immediate click right from the start, the one where everything falls right into place where gameplay and controls are married perfectly together. That’s exactly what I felt with Super Crush KO, a fast-paced and superbly fun beat-em-up with buttery smooth controls. Not only is it brimming with charm, but it’s also very easy to pick up and play during long or short play sessions, especially on Switch. Even though some of its flashiness tends to wear off in later levels, Super Crush KO is still an absolute knockout.
For anyone that’s played Vertex Pop’s previous games — Graceful Explosion Machine or We Are Doomed —you’ll easily feel right at home with Super Crush KO. A brief tutorial lays out the fundamentals before segueing into a frantic, flashy and stylish brawler that will have you hooked. GEM and WAD were both hectic and fun, but Super Crush KO feels like the game the devs have been itching to make.
All the Right Moves
While there’s an overarching story involving lead character Karen going on a rescue mission to save her beloved cat Chubbz (all the while defending against an alien robot invasion), the driving hook in Super Crush KO is all about executing and stringing combos together for a high score finish. It’s immensely satisfying, especially when you have all of the moves under your belt. The Twister Drill deals a ton of damage to enemies lined up in a straight row. The Uppercut Slice is a useful attack to launch an enemy in the air. The Air Pop is a downward kick that homes in on a single target. And the Ground Shake makes for a smashing ground pound attack. It might not seem like a lot, but it turns out it’s enough to fend off alien robots. More importantly, they’re easy to pull off and satisfying when they land.
These attacks are essentially your bread and butter through the campaign’s 20 levels. However, these moves can only be used when you have available slots in your ability bar. Each attack uses up one slot, but simply beating down a couple of nasty robots will help recharge it in no time. There’s also a super move ray blast that can basically obliterate most enemies on the screen if they’re within its range. This special attack only activates after you’ve destroyed enough robots. I liked saving it for when I really needed it, particularly during an ending enemy wave or a bullet-spongy boss. These moves, coupled with Karen’s gun, makes for a compelling and totally awesome combat system that never got boring.
Using Karen’s blaster is a great way to chain moves together and build a high score. Your gun has a bit of a cool down meter so simply holding down the trigger won’t always do the trick. That might work with a handful of airborne robots that spawn in but I found it more efficient to fire a few bullets in between me running, jumping, and dodging across the screen to each new enemy. You can even suspend yourself in midair while shooting, giving you a brief breather before planning your next deadly attack. It doesn’t take long to find a rhythm in Super Crush KO. Once you’ve gotten a few Perfect Combo’s and S-rank ratings, each new combat scenario starts to resemble something of a dance, only with considerably more punching.
Short but Sweet
When it comes to difficulty, Super Crush KO is way more accessible than anything Vertex Pop has put out in the past. I wouldn’t call it easy, but it’s definitely not as frustrating as some of the later challenges in GEM or WAD. I ran into difficulty spikes in the final two stages of the game (some larger enemies have protective shields around them, argh!) where I used up all but my last remaining life. Everyone’s mileage will likely vary in this department, but I can safely say that I had a blast from beginning to end, with very little frustration.
My only real complaint is that I wish there was just more of it. With 20 levels divided into four worlds, Super Crush KO is over way too soon. Perhaps due to the lighter difficulty or the fact that I’ve grown used to Vertex Pop’s game design, I was able to plow through the story in about three hours. Thankfully, each stage has optional challenges to complete and even medals awarded for getting a Perfect Combo. And because each level is so replayable, it’s hard not to get a little competitive on the in-game leaderboards.
I do wish there was a tad bit more variety in the enemy types too, but it’s not all that bad. The unique combat scenarios keep things fresh by adding different platforms to fight on, lasers to dodge through, blue floors that launch you in the air, and even portals that transport you to another part of the screen. Part of the appeal is seeing what obstacles are thrown your way. It might seem overwhelming at times, but you’ll always feel like a bonafide badass, which is exactly what you want in an arcade brawler.
With so much going on in the gameplay zone, it’s easy to forget how good this game can look and sound. Vertex Pop has retained its signature look from their previous games, although it seems to fit a bit more elegantly here. The vibrant colours and anime cutscenes are a real treat, and the music on display fits nicely with the chaos on screen. Its presentation is simple, but it works with its carefree personality. It’s an indie game at its core and polished up the wazoo. It’s good stuff.
Even if you haven’t played a Vertex Pop game before (you probably should, because they’re great!), Super Crush KO is the one you should start with. It plays like a dream thanks to responsive controls and smooth as silk gameplay. It’s an arcade brawler through and through, so combat takes the spotlight. Stringing combos is the name of the game and it feels awesome when you’ve conquered unbeatable odds without taking a single hit. It might be a bit on the short side, but man does it feel good to play. Don’t ignore Super Crush KO, it demands your attention.
*** Nintendo Switch code provided by the publisher ***
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Super Crush KO Review – An Arcade Indie Knockout