Super Crush KO is from Vertex Pop, the developers who worked on Graceful Explosion Machine. In 2017, the side-scrolling arcade shooter came with a ton of colour and style. Now, with their latest game, those same stylish and colourful palettes return, only this time it’s utilized in a fun brawler, albeit a bit simplistic.
Crush Your Enemies
Super Crush KO begins with the protagonist Karen having her room bombarded by an alien named Ann. Stealing Karen’s cat Chubbz, Ann disappears into the city and it’s up to Karen to gear up and get her cat back from Ann.
From here, we take up arms as Karen as she kicks, punches and shoots her way through an assortment of extraterrestrial beings around the city. Set in a 2D plane, you’ll jettison across the city brawling with enemies, learning new attacks and generally battering opponents for stealing your cat. At first, you start with a basic set of moves, and as you progress further into each level, you unlock new moves. Each new move opens up combat for the better, you can build combos, dodge enemy fire, then keep combos going by shooting at enemies to earn that S rank at the end of each level.
The better you do, the faster you unlock a special beam attack that devastates the immediate area in front of Karen and allowing her to bypass a wave of enemies. Each move you use, each dodge adds to your score tally and grows the longer you maintain momentum and avoid being hit. Furthermore, using moves like the launcher or drill take up Karen’s energy, so you defeat enemies to regain energy.
Keep the Rank Up
What I like about the combat system is that it isn’t a simple button masher. Sure, you can do mindlessly mash at the buttons to create some decent combos, but you’ll lose steam rather quickly by doing that and that often leads to tiring Karen out. What I didn’t like is that overall, the combat doesn’t feel complex enough that you’re able to create spectacular moves in battle.
Each level is a series of areas within the city, similar to classic brawlers like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Streets of Rage. Your goal is to maintain a rank while earning points for being stylish and avoiding damage from enemies. The combo meter goes from D to S and my one gripe is on some levels, moving between screens would cause the meter to cooldown and effectively reset my streak.
I enjoyed the challenge presented in Super Crush KO which isn’t necessarily challenging but demands your attention to keep your rank from dropping. If you’ve ever played a brawler before, you’ll feel right at home here and be able to pick up the rhythm of the gameplay fairly quickly. In fact, by the third or fourth level, I was able to build up to S rank fairly easily but with more practice could do better and retain my rank in future replays.
Karen can keep her wits about her while battling but with only four hearts and a finite amount of energy split between her special moves and her gun, you’ll need to pay attention to what you’re doing. Checkpoints within each stage replenish one heart container, and enemies drop them sporadically, however, when they do the game hitches a bit and stutters.
Super Crush KO’s art direction is excellent but the backgrounds lack detail. Granted, the colour palette is wonderful, and feature some exciting colours to look at, the music builds a charming little loop you encounter in each level. The overall style grabs me, and with hopeful success for the studio, I’d love to see a sequel build and improve on the look and gameplay, as right now a solid base is in place for more games.
Vertex Pop returns with another good game. Super Crush KO is a decent brawler that offers a sizeable replayability thanks to the way the ranking system works for each level. Karen handles well and learning to juggle combos is fun, albeit a bit simplistic. Super Crush KO is a short but sweet experience and but with excellent combat and replayability to gain better ranks, I see myself trying my hand at doing better during each level. Vertex Pop has another winner under their belt and I enjoyed my time brawling through the city.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]