Ever wish you could run your own TV studio that exclusively produced its own Mighty Morphin Power Rangers-esque super sentai television show? Do you wish that the act of shooting said television show was a turn based strategy challenge not unlike X-COM or Fire Emblem? Well, you have a really specific set of wishes, but also some incredibly good luck, because Behold Studios have created exactly that with their newest game, Chroma Squad. So is it a real morphinomical experience, or should be banished for 10,000 years in a dumpster on the moon? Well, let’s do some sick karate flips (KYA!!!) over the jump and I’ll tell you all about it.
Chroma Squad opens with our heroes, stuntmen and stuntwomen for an existing Super Sentai style show, getting fed up with working for the man and form their own studio in a relative’s nearby warehouse. From there, the world of brightly colored spandex suits, rubber-clad monster-men, and giant battling robots is your oyster!
Chroma Squad has two basic modes, one is the actual combat that takes place in a turn based style not unlike X-COM or Fire Emblem, and the other is the actual management of your newly founded, Super Sentai creating, television studio. Both of these separate modes play off each other interestingly– the new items you buy for your studio, like new lights or a fancier green screen, effect your stats during fights and your audience levels. During fights you can also find materials (duct tape, cardboard, cotton) that can be used during the management mode to make new armor or weapons for your five Power Rangers-esque heroes. The two modes create a really special cohesive whole that really sets Chroma Squad apart from other turn based strategy games.
Speaking of things that set Chroma Squad apart, the huge level of customization really makes the game special. After hiring five actors of your choosing, some of which are regular folks, Kickstarter backers, aliens, or even an anthropomorphic beaver, you can name the character each one plays, set their suit color, change the name of their team, the name of the team’s giant robot fighting machine, heck even change the phrase your team shouts when they transform! It really gives you a sense of ownership over your game and it’s characters which is pretty dang cool. Not to mention hilarious if you give everything ridiculous names. The game’s writing is pretty funny as well. Not every joke hits, but they definitely hit more than they miss, and they aren’t afraid to reference and lampoon within its genre or outside it! You’ll see jokes about Power Rangers using footage from Japan, to references to Mad Men.
The turn-based gameplay also happens to be absolutely solid and with a couple of cool tricks up its sleeve that sets it apart from other games in its genre. Every character’s turn they can do two actions, you can attack then move, move then attack, or move then move again, not unlike X-COM, but there’s another option you have that will end that characters turn but set the other characters up for different opportunities, appropriately called Teamwork! If you move one of your guys or gals into place and then set them into Teamwork mode, other characters can then to get a boost further in movement, or team up to attack the same adjacent enemy! The more team members you team up on an enemy the move damage they are all going to do, and if you teamwork all the team members on an enemy and let loose an attack, you’ll unleash a special finishing move (that of course you can change the name of ). Another unique feature of Chroma Squad is the Director’s Instructions. In each section of every level you’ll get a couple of objectives from the director that will boost your overall viewership if you manage to complete them. Another element that really fits with the theme is the audience meter at the top the the screen, representing the amount of viewers currently watching the show. In order to transform from being just regular old teens with attitudes to jumpsuit wearing super fighting dudes, you have to have enough people watching the show– and without transforming you don’t have any access to your special moves. It all translates to some super streamlined, super fun gameplay that really fits the Japanese Super Sentai themes, especially the focus on teamwork!
There’s nothing really not to like about Chroma Squad, honestly. It’s genuinely fun, clever, and inventive. The music is catchy and cool, and the graphics are fully of smoothly animated pixel-y goodness. That leads me to one of a few (super nitpicky) criticisms, which is why pixels? In a world overrun by retro inspired indie games with pixel graphics, why add to the pile? I mean, yeah, they did a good job with the pixel graphics, but why not give Chroma Squad a unique look to go with its unique gameplay mechanics? Imagine how cool it would be if it had a sweet comic book or manga style? Then it would really stand out. Other than that, the game could be a little deeper or a bit more difficult, but honestly the light gameplay fits the game’s lighthearted nature. It’s just an overall fun time.
If you are a fan of Power Rangers or Super Sentai shows, Chroma Squad is definitely up your alley and I’d recommend you pick it up immediately. If you are into turn-based strategy games I’m sure you’ll have a fun time, but Chroma Squad might not have the depth or difficulty level you’d get out of, say, an X-COM game. Regardless, it’s a fun game with a fun light-hearted tone, snappy, smile inducing writing, and solid gameplay.
A Steam download code for Chroma Squad was supplied to Nerd Overload by the game’s creators at Behold Studios.