Have you ever had a friend or relative who owned a pet so cute that you just had to steal them? Would you ever go so far as to travel across the entire galaxy to kidnap a cat that’s been proven to be the cutest cat in existence though? That’s the plot of Super Crush KO, where an alien kidnaps Chubbz, and you have to rescue them. It’s a simple enough premise with plenty to love, but is unfortunately hindered by a number of flaws that stop the game from being truly great.
Super Crush KO is a 2D beat ‘em up where you play as Karen as she batters her way through hordes of robots that are between her and her kidnapped cat. The controls are simple enough, with one button performing basic combos and the other saved for special moves. There’s also a super move button, which unleashes a giant laser when you have a full meter, and a dash that nullifies damage while getting you out of harm’s way.
Depending on whether you’re on the ground or in the air, moving the control stick and hitting the special attack button will pull off a different move. These moves include a high damage uppercut, a ground pound that interrupts enemy attacks and a mid-air kick that homes in on enemies and can be used multiple times.
There’s a decent arsenal of moves, and the combat itself is loose and free flowing enough to allow players to truly experiment, as you can input special moves during any combo. The range of enemies on offer means you’ll also have to use everything at your disposal to come out on top. Bigger enemies can’t be launched as easily, but the ground pound can still stun them. Smaller enemies will require quicker attacks though.
Once the combat comes together and you have all the abilities at your disposal, Super Crush KO is at its best. The gameplay is incredible, walking the line between accessibility and incredibly satisfying combos. Being about to conquer battles or even entire levels without getting hit, or being able to combo multiple enemies at once, feels wonderful, and helps make Super Crush KO feel like one of the best beat ‘em ups on the Nintendo Switch.
The story itself is also rather heartwarming amongst all the silliness of a kidnapped cat and the giant robots. Without going into too much detail, I felt like the plot represented themes of mental health and overcoming the barriers we put up to protect ourselves from others, even when the person you’re blocking out might actually have your best interests at heart. The ending is also rather cute, making Super Crush KO a pretty lovely experience as a whole.
Unfortunately, Super Crush KO has a bevy of problems that hamper the overall experience. Firstly, you obtain every single special move by the end of the third level, with no levelling up or stat progression across the entire game. Once you’ve unlocked all your moves, that’s all you have to play with for the entirety of the game’s 20 levels, which is disappointing.
Later levels do introduce new ways you can interact with the environment, like speed pads, teleporters and floating circles that you can use your Air Pop midair kick to target, allowing you to reach higher locations. These features are often found in battle arenas as a way of improving what you can do in a fight, but outside of that, they’re hardly used.
It would be nice if, between fights, the game introduced a bit more in the way of platforming and puzzle solving, just to vary the level of gameplay that Super Crush KO offers. You do see hints of that in the game’s final world, but by the time it feels like Super Crush KO is hitting its stride, the last cutscene plays and the credits roll. You’re left wanting more, but aside from the lure of high score leaderboards, more doesn’t exist. There’s no higher difficulty or additional modes to speak of, limiting the longevity severely.
Super Crush KO also suffers from a lack of variety in its level design. The graphics and art style for the game is adorable, but the backgrounds just depict a cityscape as it goes from day to night. It makes the entire game look the same, with no sense of progression other than the passage of time. The music also feels samey across each world, barely even changing for the game’s four boss fights.
As for those boss fights, each one sees you fight a bipedal mech with different attacks per fight and a design that only changes slightly as the game progresses, a pattern that leads to boredom over a new boss fight rather than excitement. Super Crush KO does lampshade this idea by names the bosses Mecha 1, 2, 3 & 4, but making a joke about the lack of originality doesn’t make the bosses any less forgettable.
Vertex Pop are a small team, so a lot of the issues with Super Crush KO could be attributed to a lack of resources, and ultimately, the game offers plenty of enjoyment for fans of the beat ‘em up genre. That said, Super Crush KO’s issues are prevalent enough to dampen the overall package.
A copy of Super Crush KO was provided by PR for the purposes of this review.
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While I really liked Super Crush KO’s brilliant gameplay and cute story, there’s a host of issues that drag the experience down.
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