Thursday
Aug212014

QCF: Super Comboman

ost platformers seem to follow a basic structure when it comes to simple implementations like control and level flow. Sometimes as an audience however, we are treated to subversions in the stereotypical platforming mechanics, and Super Comboman would be one of those unique times. 

A successful Kickstarter project from 2012, Super Comboman is a game that aims to mix beat 'em up combat with a distinct platforming feel. As you can tell from the outside, these are two extremely different ideals to marry—Ideals that unfortunately however may just be let down by the rest of its parts. 

The first thing you're bound to notice about Super Comboman is its intensely upbeat atmosphere. Every detail about this world gives off a happy cartoon vibe, and it's difficult not to get caught up in the games charm. The art is styled after stickers, with the characters looking like they peel right off the background. It's a nice touch and it fits in with the visual themes that encompasses the whole game. The style in general works very well to the games advantage and it's hard to imagine it looking any other way. 

In fact 'upbeat' describes the whole atmosphere nicely- even the plot. There's no tired damsel in distress trope here for sure, our hero in Super Comboman is more concentrated on completing jobs for the Dodoco corporation, as to raise money for his little brother and their household. This is a nice story touch and it fits in with the happy-go-lucky feel mentioned before. Say what you may about the rest of it, but Super Comboman is defiantly not content with regurgitating the game platforming tropes seen before, at least where story is concerned. 

However, while the visuals are charming, other aspects of the presentation are not. The music for example is incessantly dull, and it becomes a chore to keep it turned on for the duration of your playing time. A recommendation here would be to play on mute since it unfortunately adds very little to the overall experience. 

Nevertheless, everything comes down to the gameplay and how it feels, which is where this game really starts to drag. A normal level will consist of various switches to push, with bad guys existing for you to push them into the said buttons. This involves a lot of fighting combat where you'll often find yourself pounding repeatedly on bad guys in hopes that they'll just die. The main problem is the enemies take way too many hits, and there always seems to be so many of them that at any given stage you will be more focused on punching (and button pressing) than platforming. Not that there's much platforming to do anyway...

This is the main problem with Super Comboman. It's clear that it has aspirations of being a genre hybrid, but it concentrates way too much on nailing the beat 'em up aspects that it tends to ignore the platforming elements that deserve to come into play too. A usual stage will see you stopping regularly to beat up some bad guys, however there's usually no challenge in traversing the levels themselves. The result here is a game that feels conflicted. Super Comboman wants to be a hybrid but it will only ever concentrate on other designs, antithetical to the platforming experience. 

An example with this would be the upgrade perks system that the game implements. In keeping with the theme you can collect or buy different stickers which will give you a power of sorts. These add a lot of verity to the combo system whilst also throwing unlockables into the mix. This is a good system- it's well balanced and brings a lot of depth to the game. Despite the benefit it brings though, there's never really a use for these special perks or combos. You can pretty much get the same desired effect over every enemy by constantly hitting them, so unless you really like experimenting with your controls you can expect to be doing a lot of the same things over and over or not using this system at all.

The biggest flaw with Super Comboman by far however is its main technical bugs. For one reason or another the game does not like loading screens, and will usually freeze or stutter on them. Honestly, every time the game presented me with one, there would be a slight fear that my game would crash unexpectedly. The levels do load eventually, but not before a lot of panic on the side of the player. Its loading bugs are a big issue and one of Super Comboman’s biggest flaws.

Super Comboman isn't a bad game by any means, but it is a severely flawed one. With the potential for a brilliant mash-up wasted on designs that concentrate too much on only one side, it's a shame to think that this could have been something truly special. At the moment,a it just stands as something very average, with an unrealized core waiting to be discovered.

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