Super Crush KO Review: A Hyper Stylish Arcade Brawler

by David Sanchez January 16, 2020 @ 8:00 am

Reviewed on PC

What lengths would you go to if you had to save your kitten from the clutches of an alien invader? Would you travel great distances, take down all of her goons, and even fight giant robots? These are the all-important, real-world, moral questions that Super Crush KO asks. Created by Vertex Pop, who previously released the bright and colorful Graceful Explosion Machine, the developer’s follow-up is equally cheery-looking, but it’s worthy of its own merits. Super Crush KO is a highly polished, super-stylized arcade beat ’em up that’s fast and fun with tight gameplay mechanics.

Save Your Cat… and the World

After an alien crashes through protagonist Karen’s wall and steals her kitty, Chubbz, Karen is left with no choice but to chase after the leader of a giant robot army. I mean, who knows what evil plans are afoot? But also, more importantly, that’s Karen’s cat!

The storytelling in Super Crush KO is both lighthearted and light, which is too say there’s much of it, but it’s all the better for it as it allows you to focus on the action. Throughout the game you’re treated to quick comic book-styled scenes broken up into different panels. The game’s art in these scenes is poppy and pastel-colored, and it looks like something you’d see in a modern-day indie comic along the lines of Paper Girls or Rat Queens.

Beat ‘Em All Up

As Karen, you have a handful of abilities at your disposal, and they all make you feel like a badass. When fighting enemies, you can use basic moves like quick combos, jumping attacks, and uppercuts. You also have special moves like a forward dive that can cut through multiple baddies, flying combos that allow you to juggle enemies, and a ground pound that can interrupt the sinister bots’ more powerful attacks. These more intense moves run off an energy meter, but because the meter fills up so quickly as you brawl, you’re rarely unable to perform these attacks.

You also have a blaster that you can use to chip away at enemies’ health bars. The blaster is useful if you’re trying to close the gap between enemies that are using their own long-range maneuvers, and it also allows you to keep a combo going if your aiming for a high score and S-rank. Like your special attacks, the blaster also has an energy meter. If you use it a lot, you’ll feel the effects of this meter a lot more than the attack energy meter as the blaster’s cooldown is much more noticeable.

Your ultimate attack is a giant super blast that you build up over time. This will definitely be your least used moved as the meter fills up very slowly to avoid spamming the attack. When you do use it, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of enemies — or at the very least, a really powerful mini-boss type — right in front of you. Because this move is available so sporadically, you really won’t want to waste it. Make that super blast count!

You don’t have to wait very long, complete special objectives, or level up to obtain these super moves. You unlock them all within the first few minutes of the game. Super Crush KO is a big arcade beat ’em up power fantasy. The game is certainly challenging, but it gives you everything you need to succeed right from the get-go, and it allows you to use those moves to power through bad guys, juggle robots, and take on massive bosses.

You’ll move across levels, taking on small groups of enemies. Some areas include larger groups, with the end of every level putting you up against huge hordes of robots. These final moments in the levels are particularly tough, but with every move you have in your arsenal, these brawls never feel impossible. Designated areas challenge you to defeat multiple waves of enemies to hit a potential S-rank. At the end of each world, you face a boss that takes up nearly half the screen. These bosses are fairly challenging in their own right, and they’re a blast to take on.

There’s a bit of light platforming in Super Crush KO, some of which utilizes Karen’s air dash attack, but these elements never feel fully realized. It’s not too much of a problem because the game definitely feels much more rooted in old school arcade sensibilities, but the tiny bit of platforming that’s offered is solid enough that I really wish there was more of it.

Super Colorful KO

There’s a lot to love about the gameplay design of Super Crush KO, but there’s just as much to appreciate in regard to the game’s visual direction. The comic book cut-scenes are great, and they look like the pages of something I would definitely want to read. The actual levels are also highly stylized, with clean pastel colors that really pop. There are a lot of pinks and blues, and the stage and enemy designs are smooth and eye-catching.

The sounds of Super Crush KO are also quite pleasant, though they don’t stand out as much as the aesthetic. You’ll hear a lot of the same themes across multiple stages, and catchy as they may be, these tunes do get a little repetitive.

I played through Super Crush KO in one sitting and got to the end in three hours. The game may be a little short, yes, but its brand of fast-paced arcade action definitely hooked me and made me want to keep playing until I defeated the final boss. There are no collectibles or secrets to seek out, but you can certainly challenge yourself to score S-ranks in special areas with lots of enemies and in the stages themselves.

Super Crush KO will leave you wanting more, partially because it’s so much fun, but also because it’s a bit on the short side. The platforming parts are fun, if never fully realized. If what you’re looking for is straight-up, stylish action, though, Super Crush KO is an awesome beat ’em up that’s entertaining the entire way through and never lets up.

Score: 8.5 out of 10

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