Game Spotlight: Chroma Squad

Did you ever watch the Power Rangers as a kid? You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hadn’t heard of them at all. If you are one of those few, the action-packed show followed a group of heroes bestowed with strange powers that allowed them to fight evil aliens and form mechs when the big, bad guys got even bigger and badder. Despite its simple premise it was, and still is super popular, having over 20 seasons that get new villains, new heroes and a new gimmick each time. Another question: Ever wanted to make your very own Power Rangers team? Chroma Squad uses the nostalgia many people have for the Power Rangers to create a truly unique game where you can do just that!

Chroma Squad allows you to create your own team of Power Rangers with the stunt actors, their names and their ranger colours customisable. Each stunt actor looks different and has different stats. For example, a nerd wearing a panda costume who has lots of attack but less movement range. Or a celebrity who gives you a lot more audience for each episode you produce but is rubbish in battle. There are 5 classes your actors can be though you are only allowed one of each: The leader who is a tank and inspires the rest of the group, an assault who relies on brute force and damage, an assist who is the ‘white mage’ or rather healer(meaning without one you wouldn’t stand a chance), a techie who specialises in long-range combat and weapons and a scout who can move quickly around the battlefield backstabbing enemies when they least expect it.

So, once you’ve formed your dream team of superheroes after a brief tutorial, you’re thrown into your studio to produce episodes of your show. There are two main parts to Chroma Squad. The first is managing your studio which involves buying better and more realistic costumes that increase your Rangers’ stats, crafting, upgrading your studio for special effects, customising your mech, choosing an advertising agency to market your show and answering messages from fans or other, more mysterious people. The crafting system is simple but helps with the incredibly authentic Power Rangers feel of the game as you craft costumes and prop weapons with duct tape and cardboard. The same goes for the mech which allows you to make the different parts of the giant robot individually, each part representing one of the rangers such as the main body for the leader. These different parts affect your base stats as well as giving special skills that could give you the edge in battle. Finally, you can, of course, change the team name, the mech name, the studio name and your team’s finishing move name. I named my team the cliche ‘Kaiju Patrol’ and their finishing move the ‘Kaiju Kick’. Why? Because alliteration, that’s why! Then, once you’ve finished, you pick an episode and it’s time for the next part of the game. The combat.

You film the episodes for your show through intuitive turn-based combat. The core of the combat is what you would expect in a turn-based strategy game. You move your units individually, one by one and guide them to attack enemies. You can move twice in a turn but not attack after a movement on the second which often provides a chance for retreat. But there are a few unique twists. One of these is teamwork! Instead of moving on the first or second chance your Ranger has to move and attack, they can instead activate teamwork. This means that your Ranger can then be used to throw another ranger a further distance so they can get within attacking range of an enemy or strategically flank them. It can also be used to deal extra damage to any enemies standing nearby a unit who has activated teamwork by double, triple, quadruple teaming them and using your finishing move when all 5 of your rangers take part. This makes the game a lot more strategic and forces you to plan ahead with all of your rangers. Sometimes, special units can also join at the start or in the middle of an episode to aid you which makes for some fun battles and team ups. Some of my favourite points playing through the game were when a mysterious samurai I had battled in a previous episode teamed up with my Rangers to take down the bigger threat or when a coder for the game joined the fight to help against an ‘OP bear'(long story) by debugging it. Doing well in the battles and fulfilling certain secondary objectives increases your audience which means more money to spend on your studio.

The story in the game is also surprisingly good. So good in fact that I’m going to hold myself back from spoiling it. I can talk about how well it captures the Power Rangers feeling throughout however.One of the ways it captures these feelings is through the various cliche, almost spoof-like villains that you have to face throughout the campaign. One in particular stands out however though I will not say his name as that is a spoiler in itself. All I will say is he is so stylish, hilarious and full of his own character that he might possibly be one of my favourite video game villains of all time. Another way the Power Rangers feeling is captured is the episodes that, especially in the later seasons, have small character arcs where the episode focuses on individual members of your squad and has them learn valuable lessons about friendship! These serve to make the game more authentic while also pushing character development at the same time. Despite them being little more than cliches(like the villains), I grew attached to my team.

As well as this, there are several endings you can achieve in the game though it doesn’t do anything at all to persuade you to see them all. In fact, if anything, it dissuades you. The entire fifth season and ending is affected by a choice you make during a battle at the end of the fourth season which is pretty cool. But here’s the problem. There is NO way to simply reset back to the fourth season finale meaning if you want to see all the different endings then you have to play the first four seasons all over again… twice. Even if you knew about this beforehand there is no way to save your game to a different save slot so unless you complete the season 4 finale and all of season 5 without closing the game or saving there is no way to see all the endings without starting a new game. Another problem I have with the game is the lack of replayability. I will admit, the campaign is quite long(around 15 hours) but apart from that there is not much else to do except go for the different endings which may seem like a chore for the reason mentioned above or go for the achievements which also involve the different endings.

In conclusion, despite being lacking in replayability by today’s standards and the problems I had with achieving the games various endings, Chroma Squad is a nostalgia-fueled fun fest which was obviously made by fans of the Power Rangers show who knew how to recreate the same feeling. Even if you are not a fan of the Power Rangers, I recommend you check out this game as the gameplay and story are still reason enough to buy it. Now, Kaiju Patrol, roll out!

Pros:

  • Intuitive gameplay
  • Nostalgic Power Rangers feel
  • Plenty of references and jokes
  • Great story
  • Long campaign
  • Multiple endings

Cons:

  • Game dissuades you from seeing all the endings
  • Lack of replayability

Verdict: 8.5/10

Get it here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/251130/

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