Duuuuude. You ever have something just, like, fall into your lap that you didn't know you needed until they showed up in your life? That's kind of how I'm feeling about this. It's Super Crush KO, it's awesome, let's talk.

Windup

So, you know me. You know I really dig a lot of retro genre stuff. I mean, I'm the guy they put on pinball review duty, I probably like me some vintage gaming. But one genre that hadn't been getting enough love is actually a childhood favorite of mine: The very specific beat-em-up subgenre of the single plane brawler.

It's actually a subgenre that houses two very important games for me. The Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers game for SNES, the first videogame that was solely mine. And The Ninja Warriors on the same system, given to me by my childhood best friend from their collection. But not only was it not super common back in the day, most modern returns to the beat-em-up field tend to go for the beltscroller style: Streets of Rage style isometric displays of pseudo-3D streets, or actual-3D descendants of them.

And then out of nowhere, we get word about Super Crush KO. And I see the reveal trailer.

You can bet I jumped at the chance to review this one. And I am so glad I did.

Game overview

So the story here is pretty simple, and also pretty great. You're Karen, a mild-mannered 20-something living in her apartment with her cat Chubbz.

Then a beautiful alien space princess invades said apartment, steals your cat, and runs off.

Time. To. Get. Back. Your. Cat.

Which means fighting your way through four worlds, 20 stages, and so very many robots, with nothing but your wits, your fists, and a stolen alien rifle.

I'm gonna be real with you, I've played some games with full on Save The World plots that were not a quarter as engaging as "space princess stole your cat". I'm not saying that's, like, the perfect story to which nothing can be compared, I'm just saying it's a surprisingly high mark.

So how do we save the cat?

Gameplay

Punching.

The core gameplay here is, very firmly, combo attack oriented. Karen has a basic four-hit combo that knocks basic enemies back, a three-hit air combo that knocks them downwards, plus a series of special moves mapped to the X button. It's your classic stuff for games like this; tackles forward, uppercuts, ground slams, etc.

Actually, thinking about it, one thing really not in her arsenal is throws. I suppose the logic is these are big heavy robots and you're just a millennial running on Scott Pilgrim logic and kidnapped-pet fury, but still.

So instead of throws, you've got gun. That stolen alien rifle does okay damage, at range, and recharges pretty quick. But the secret behind it isn't in using it as a main damage dealer.

It's in using it to keep your combo going.

The main gimmick that Super Crush KO brings to the party is adding in stylish-action combos, complete with letter grading that goes up to S and gets harder and harder to keep hold of. And lemme tell you, nothing feels quite as smooth as tearing through an entire encounter without slowing down once, and getting that "Perfect Combo" tag at the end.

Visuals, sounds, aesthetic

And we've got to spend a moment on these. Because this game is gorgeous. One of the things that VertexPop proved with their previous title, Graceful Explosion Machine, is that they know how to make these sort of bright and saturated colors really sing and bring a new look to a classic genre.

And along comes Super Crush KO, and not only is it doing a ton with those bright saturated colors, it's also bringing in a ton of pastels, and a whole look that's...Maybe not quite exactly vaporwave, but is realclose. And either way, it's absolutely gorgeous, using just about every color of the rainbow.

Then there's the music, which is all definitely vaporwave inspired, with this very relaxed vibe that just makes everything feel fun. You're not getting AMPED UP FOR YOUR GRAND STRUGGLE, you're going on an adventure that even Karen knows is kind of ridiculous. What sort of beautiful alien princess shows up for your cat?

Even the animations reflect this: Karen runs around less like she's on an epic quest, and more like she's doing one of those impressive morning runs your pretty athletic neighbor does on the weekends. It's really only her attacks that carry a sort of fierceness, and even then they don't carry a willful brutality.

It all just flows together so damn well, that it makes those few flaws stand out all the more.

Those few flaws

So, really, there's only a couple things that I notice about Super Crush KO that bug me.

The first is, well, a bug. Or it could be a user error. But more than once while playing, I'd go to do a special move and then immediately combo, and it would first do the move again. So for instance, I'd tackle into an enemy then start punching, but instead I'd tackle twice and then punch. I'm more than willing to grant that thing could be my fault, maybe I'm accidentally double tapping the button and it's not error-correcting for instance, but I noticed it happen.

The second thing is...How do I put this...It's not that the game's too easy, it's that the grading's too generous. There are stages where I should not have even gotten an A from all the mistakes I made, but my high score is a full on S rank. Like, real talk, if I get hit 13 times in a single stage that is not an S playthrough.

It's an odd sensation to be feeling like I'm making so many mistakes, but have the game still think I'm near the top of the possible rating despite that. And I'm not sure if that speaks to the grading curve being too kind or the score multipliers being too generous or what, but it definitely feels off to have...One A in my sea of Ss after my first, rushed, for-review-purposes playthrough.

Oh and also I'd love for there to be more content and more variety. The utter lack of humanoid foes does feel like it puts a limit on the gameplay, and the ending feels really sudden, like the minimalist but well-told story was just ramping up into its second act twist when it suddenly came to an end.

But at the same time, it's hard for me to complain too hard about wanting more ice cream, as it were, you know what I mean?

So where's that leave us?

Conclusion

Go buy it go buy it now this game is great.

No funny jokes no silly exaggerations just, go get this. It's a really really well-done single-plane brawler that made me want to play every inch of it before I reviewed the thing, and its few problems are the sort that scream out for a sequel to really work on them. It's worth your money, it's worth your time, let's go.