Chroma Squad: TV show - Games Weekly

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Chroma Squad: TV show

The Japanese word  sentai translates as ‘task force’ or ‘squadron’, but is also used to describe a particular brand of superhero fiction featuring colour-coded heroes who combine their powers to defeat evil. Chroma Squad is based on this trope, most notably the Power Rangers series, or Super Sentai as it was known in the East.

It’s based so closely, in fact, that it got the developers into legal hot water with owners Saban but this seems to have been resolved. The game is still being made, and I spent some time with a build Behold Studios put forward for this year’s Independent Games Festival awards.

The game begins on the set of the sentai TV show, Chroma Squad. The five coloured heroes are in front of a green-screen and a director is barking orders at them. This is the tutorial for the isometric turn-based combat, which works like a simplified XCOM.

As the team dispatch monster-suited goons, their audience level rises. When they use special teamwork attacks, it rises even faster. You are, essentially, making a TV show, and you score extra points for following the director’s instructions.

But then Chroma Squad go indie. They leave the studio behind and decide to create their own series in an old warehouse, which is where you come in. Because Chroma Squad the game is part turn-based tactical brawler, and part management sim.
You’re making a TV show, and score extra points for following the director’s instructions
As you create episodes and your audience grows, you earn money that can be spent on improvements to the studio, which will boost your profits even more. It’s simplistic, but compelling. You can name your squad, and the catchphrase they shout when they combine their powers. You can choose which actors portray them, all of whom come with their own stats and modifiers. Next, it’s time to film an episode.

This is where the combat comes in. Your performance determines how much money you make, and how many fans you get. At the end of an episode, you’re shown tweets from fans discussing the episode, both positive and negative, which is a cute touch.

You can lazily punch and kick your way through episodes, but you’ll lose fans. It’s by obeying the director’s instructions which take the form of optional objectives that you’ll make the biggest impact.

He might ask you to beat a certain enemy with a finishing move, or use a teamwork attack. Click the teamwork button and your hero will pose dramatically, healing nearby allies and unlocking special moves. Position all five near a boss for a super-attack.

This is a really clever game, with beautiful pixel art full of personality. I love the premise and its sense of humour. The problem at this stage is that it lacks depth. If Behold Studios dedicate a good chunk of time to making the combat more complex and tactical, this could be pretty special.

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