There really is no telling just how much some people love their cats. And to be fair, who can blame them? They're cute, fluffy, have a knack for stealing food, and enjoy getting fur everywhere. It's no wonder then, according to Vertex Pop, that an intergalactic alien would break into someone's home and steal their feline friend whilst sending an army of robots out to stop the owner.
This is the absurd conflict at the heart of Super Crush KO, which runs with that silly theme across everything to result in a game that oozes charm in every aspect, making for an enjoyably sweet run 'n' gun brawler, albeit with a few rough edges that hold things back at points.
You can tell that it's going to be sweet upon first glance too. Using a similar art style to Vertex Pop's previous games, Super Crush KO has a soft pastel look with plenty of complementary colours that appears cheerfully pleasing to the eye. It all ties into a joyful attitude that permeates everything and some of the quirky jokes will likely crack a smile. There's also an upbeat soundtrack that faded into the background a lot, but when it's there you can't deny that it all fits together extremely well.
In typical beat 'em up fashion, you'll be clearing the screen of enemies as you progress. Rarely does this become a chore here thankfully, since the movement and flexibility of combat feel pretty great. You've got the usual one-two punch here, which works just fine, in addition to a blaster for some run and gun action, but the best moves are ones that require the power gained from smashing bots apart. These let you quickly take down even the biggest robots and chain together moves to keep the combo going if you're good enough at using them.
After figuring all of this out we zipped across the screen at a record pace, uppercutting machines and juggling them in the air before crashing back down with a thud to smash through the many bots beneath us. And if that's not enough, you can obliterate a whole line of robots with a devastating laser beam once in a while for the ultimate power fantasy.
Without a doubt the most satisfying moments are when you can keep your combo rating going throughout an entire level, never taking a hit and tearing through even the biggest enemies with ease for a huge number of points. That's easier said than done though, and whilst all these power-ups certainly sound like they make the game a breeze, they don't (especially if you want to gain the best ranks and hit the leaderboards).
Super Crush KO becomes far more challenging later on with bigger and tougher robot variations that fill up the entire screen. The sheer number of enemies is enough to cause a headache, especially when some of them highlight a few movement faults. For example, it's possible to dash through the many projectiles that'll be fired at you but there were plenty of times where we couldn't dash again to dodge a follow-up attack. Also frustrating was each encounter with the armadillo-robot, whose rolling attack can only be stopped by the ground smash which takes too long to happen after the button press. These aren't huge enough to really break the combat, but they still managed to ruin our perfect combo every once in a while, causing another agonising restart as we aimed to achieve perfection.
You'll be doing that quite a bit too, since Super Crush KO isn't particularly long at all. There are 12 levels, each of them lasting for five minutes each on average, for roughly two to three-hours of brawling action, if the bosses are included and without retries. Replaying stages for better scores sounds pretty typical for padding out the length, but you'll be doing that anyway since it's a lot of fun. What isn't fun are those boss fights, which are essentially four variations of the same giant mech, each time with added bells and whistles. With a combat system this easy to pick up and enjoyable to master, it's a shame to see that Vertex Pop didn't come up with any other designs. Also noteworthy is that whilst Super Crush KO is also a platformer the focus is clearly not on that, leading to just a few awkward moments where clunky movement makes it harder to push forward than it should be.
Despite some of the more glaring problems, we still had a great time blasting through Super Crush KO thanks to its upbeat style and fun brawling action. Whilst it won't satisfy people who want a longer experience with less repetition and a more involved plot, what is here should entertain anyone who enjoys a good action brawler, especially if smacking the hell out of robots and blasting them with lasers sounds like your kind of good time.
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