STAFF REVIEW of Super Comboman: Smash Edition (Xbox One)

Friday, September 8, 2017.
by Adam Dileva

Super Comboman: Smash Edition Box art Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: Small indie studio starts a Kickstarter to fund their game and bring their vision to gamers around the world. Yea I know, this is a pretty common routine these days, and sometimes the result is an awesome game, while other times not so much. Super Comboman started out this way, asking for a modest amount on Kickstarter to help fund their game to bring it to the masses. Enough seemed to believe in their vision, as it released on PC initially, but is now here for console players as well.

You’re Struggles, a lovably chubby older brother who takes care of his younger sibling, Biscuit. Struggles is having a hard time making ends meet financially, something I can relate with, so he sets off to collect coins and money to help pay their mortgage. Where their parents are, I have no idea, but to make ends meet Struggles will punch, kick and combo his way through all of his construction co-workers to get the job done and collect his coveted paycheck at the end of each stage.

If that sounds like an odd premise for you it only gets weirder when you realize Struggles is trying to emulate Super Comboman, one of his favorite comic book heroes. Oh, and he has a talking fanny pack. Yes, you read that right. It’s an odd premise and setup, but the colorful and friendly visuals seem to just make it work, so don’t question it too much as you fight your way across a 2D landscape through dozens of enemies.

The core gameplay will have you punching and fighting your way through tons of worker enemies, though at first it will seem a little confusing with the controls. You have a regular attack, a stun attack and a power move, along with being able to double jump, though your move repertoire will expand greatly as you progress. As you play more and more, fighting will feel more natural as you get used to the controls and enemy patterns.

Your light attack is what you’ll be mashing the most, as you can attack with it as much as you like, but does very little damage. Your heavy attack will knock back enemies and do a large amount of damage but is tied to your stamina, so you can only use it sparingly. You also can utilize a Stun attack, also tied to a slowly regenerating meter, allowing you to knock enemies off their feet for a short period so you to gain an upper hand. Use the heavy or stun attacks too much and Struggles will briefly become stunned himself, leaving himself vulnerable to enemy attacks, so you need to watch your meters and combo efficiently across all types of attacks.

As you smash boxes and defeat enemies they will disperse coins to collect and food that will replenish your health. These coins will later be used in the Combo Store, allowing you to purchase new movesets that will allow you to combo attack in many new ways. What surprised me was that many of these moves are performed with Street Fighter-like inputs, rather than straight button combinations. While this adds an interesting fighting element, it’s a little convoluted when you need to smash buttons and also twist in some Street Fighter inputs like fireballs as well.

You can also purchase Perks, allowing you to gain a short term bonus once you’ve reached a certain combo number. These perks activate automatically once your streak becomes a specific number, adding defense, offence or other bonuses. You can have two perks at once, switching them between stages to suit your play style or make up for where you lack skill wise. Level design is very straight forward with only one real path to follow, though there are a few short paths to find hidden sticker collectibles. These are strictly for collecting, adding a little more length to the gameplay should you be inclined.

The first few levels start off easy enough, throwing just a handful of enemies at you with nothing terribly challenging. Eventually more enemies, and more difficult ones, will be thrown your way, along with having to platform and avoiding instant death spikes as well. You begin each stage with three lives, a classic staple for games of old, with nostalgia eventually kicking in when you start dying repeated times, having to restart stages from the beginning. Game Over’s can be frustrating when you near the end of a stage, only to have a new tough enemy thrown at you without warning, causing you to die and have to restart all the way from the beginning.

Balancing could use a little work, as new enemies should be introduced near the beginning of a level to teach you how to fight against them properly, instead of near the end, causing you to die and have to repeat the whole stage over again numerous times. I became quite frustrated with this, as 30 minutes into a level I keep dying, only to be reset at the beginning. There are a decent amount of checkpoints, but they only are for your 3 initial lives, not continues.

What helps set Super Comboman apart from the competition is its vibrant and colorful art style. The characters of the world look like stickers, so the animations are simplistic yet work fluidly. The story is told through cutscenes and dialogue boxes, but sadly they aren’t narrated. In general, the audio as a whole is a little unforgettable, as you’ll mostly be hearing the attacks and smashing of boxes more than a memorable soundtrack.

If you’re a fan of the 2D platformer brawlers, then you’ll no doubt enjoy your time with Super Comboman, especially with its vibrant and colorful visuals. There’s some depth here for those that want to grind for coins and unlock new movesets and perks, but your average fan might be a little overwhelmed with the sudden spikes of difficulty. Super Comboman was fun, but it didn’t leave a lasting impression, so unless you’re a huge fan of the genre I suggest waiting for a decent sale to pick it up before helping Struggles with his struggles.

Overall: 6.5 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10


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