Chroma Squad is a game you need to play if you have any idea who the power rangers are. You don’t even have to LIKE power rangers. (If you didn’t like the power rangers when you were a kid, you’re a square.)
If you’re a fan of Tokusatsu in general, or, at least know what it is, you probably have heard of Super Sentai, one of the most popular Tokusatsu program series in Asia. American company Saban Entertainment turned Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger into Mighty Morphin Power Rangers by wisely editing Japanese Choreography into a television series about a bunch of people far too old to be in high school taking martial arts classes and awkwardly bullying a fat guy and his fantastically dressed sidekick. This, while the most popular series in the world, is but one of many in Japan, and there are tons of multi-person color-based teams with people doing handsprings and kicking people in funny costumes.
In this game, you are playing as one of those knock-off companies, who got started when your team decides they are done being stunt men for a director who doesn’t care about story or substance, just producing trashy karate TV shows in brightly colored costumes. Your team quits on the spot, borrows someone’s uncle’s garage, gets out it’s duct tape and cardboard, produces new suits, and a new series.
The game’s storyline is funny, but mostly nostalgic. The enemies are spoofy – things like the Trafficmancer – a wizard with a traffic cone on their head and carrying a wand with a traffic light on top – but, definitely something that wouldn’t be out of place in a Power Rangers episode.
The music in the game is catchy, and totally feels like you’re playing an episode of the power rangers. It’s just fun to listen to, even the main menu song. It’s just the perfect amount of epic covered in weeb sauce. The graphics are informative, funny, and portray the characters fairly and accurately. You’ll never get tired of your characters posing while chatting about how well the production is going. The only complaint in the graphics or audio departments wouldn’t even be fair, because they’re about the genre – repetitive enemy types and the same music during Mecha battles. All of the pieces in this game are put together well, and I was never confused by the HUD, the upgrade systems, or anything. It’s very clear and well designed. When buying/crafting new armour for your squad, the minor differences in the character’s looks is even done well. The quality is outstanding, This is pixel graphics done very well.
When it comes to video game genres, Tactics games are definitely a solid hit on my radar. You produce a good tactics game, and I’m gonna want to play it. This game hits all the right notes, except for a few minor issues that become glaring on harder difficulties. You move your mouse and click on a square to have your character move there, but, there’s no way to “undo” that move if it isn’t where you intended to move him, or if it puts your character too far away to be used in battle. This is made even more frustrating by having a “teamwork” system that you can use to boost character’s movement by throwing each other across the map using acrobatics. The problem? If I have a character that can only move 3 spaces, but I set my assist character 4 spaces away (which, is fairly easy to do), my character I intended to boost won’t be able to reach him. I think allowing someone to undo a move action as long as it was the last action done would greatly benefit this system, as, even using teamwork for acrobatics seems like a system difficult to gauge – You can choose where your character lands, but, it might not be as far as you think it will be. Being able to take back that action would be very helpful, but, I also understand not allowing them to do that – most of the game is sequentially shooting the story for a television show, and they’re not going to call “Cut!” because somebody didn’t jump far enough. They’ll fix that in editing later.
Each of your 5 characters has an archetype that fits in with the genre. You have the lead, who survives major amounts of damage and has leadership abilities to enhance your squad, your assault character, a heavy hitter who deals a lot of damage, your brainy nerd, uses situational attacks and emphasises range, a healer, and the scout, who has incredible move distance and stuns, free hits, and high critical hit chances.
Mecha battles are very simple, but definitely have some tactical thought behind them. A risk vs. reward system is apparent in the design, as you know what your to-hit chance is, and for every attack you hit, you lose 10%, meanwhile, your combo increases the damage of your next attack. Is it worth having a 65% chance to hit while you’re doing 2.3 times the damage? Or, is blocking to prevent damage going to better serve you if you miss? These little design pieces make the game fun and interesting. Furthermore, when the enemy attacks, you have to time your block, the closer to perfect you get, the less damage the enemy does. It’s a really well done battle system itself, and it’s cool that it’s just added on to an already well put together tactics game.
Chroma Squad takes place in seasons, in which you get to answer fan-mail, determine who your promotions department is, how to upgrade your studio, when to buy (or craft) new gear for your squad, and, which order your episodes will be released in. It’s super fun, choosing your special abilities for your team after each season completes is a good way to create pacing, and none of the characters ever seem useless. The crafting system is expensive and definitely risky, as you have to purchase packs of ingredients or hopefully get them as drops, so it’s easy to get behind on gear if you’re not just buying it from the store. Crafting unique looks, or having everyone wear the same thing and carry similar weapons is totally possible. Upgrading your mecha almost entirely requires the crafting system, and, that’s really important later in the game, but even your mecha has a lot of different options for how you wish to build it. The amount of variance you can get out of 5 characters with the archetypes and a few changes of armour is spectacular.
The funny feel of the game, the shallow skill system with in-depth consequences, and the ability to utilize teamwork for basic attacks and even as finishing moves makes this game a sure win for people interested in tactics games, sentai-style action shows, or even just humorous nostalgia reminders. I really enjoyed this game far beyond my expectations. When cruuump originally told me about it, I said, “Eh, I’ll try it sometime.” and promptly forgot about it. As soon as I turned it on for the first time, I knew I had made a mistake. Chroma Squad is freakin’ awesome.
Disclosure: We didn’t receive this game for free, but dammit, it’s so freakin’ good we’re giving a copy away!
Developed by: Behold Studios