With a mix of fluid, hand-drawn pastel art and flowing combat, Super Crush K.O. is an indie beat-em gem. Karen, who is dressed like an early 90s high-schooler, is on a quest to save her cat from being loved by female robot. Along the way, the player must destroy a massive amount of robot critters using both melee and ranged attacks.
Super Crush K.O. is a wonderful example of a game that takes one mechanic, in this case fighting with melee and ranged attacks, and refines the experience even though the player does the same action throughout the entire game. Repetition will appear but because the combat system is so fluid, gameplay remains entertaining even though there is plenty of button mashing. The game is front loaded, with the player unlocking a handful of new abilities in the first few stages, then the game provides the player with choice on how to approach combat. For example, cautious players might want to milk the regenerating machine gun attack whereas high score chasers will want to jump into the fray by pulling off combos and super moves. The game rewards players by playing well with a higher rank on the stage ending leaderboards but in order to do so, combos must be constantly strung together and no damage can be taken. In time, once the player learns the strengths and weaknesses of each enemy type along with knowledge on when to use which type of attack, battles become a wondrous, flowing dance that makes you feel like a teenage John Wick. Picking off aerials with the machine gun, then transitioning to a power dive super move, then pummeling a pack of robots with a three hit combo, only to dash away at the last second from a rear attack, all without pause or dropped frames is something truly magical.
The pastel, cutesy visual presentation looks like a glorified doodled notebook from an anime teen. Filled to the brim with personality, the entire presentation screams adorable charm. The soundtrack also leans into this attraction and even the level ending transitions from gameplay to the anime flashing cutscene is impressive and wonderful. Although the player unlocks most abilities within the beginning stages, the quest remains a balanced experience throughout, only occasionally being bogged down with segments that simply throw a ton of enemies at the player at once to keep the difficulty growing. It is also worth pointing out that enemies are not damage sponges and each can be bested using the proper combos and attacks. This only furthers the point that combat was developed with care.
Super Crush K.O. is a pleasant surprise and a perfect example that other developers should note. Although the stage design is simple and lacks secrets or alternative paths, it is the combat that takes center stage and acts as the glue that ties the entire experience together. Backed with an art style that is difficult to hate, Super Crush K.O. is probably the sleeper hit indie Switch eShop game you have been craving.
Also available on PC.
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