Kitten May Sigh

HIGH Finishing off bosses with a super beam.

LOW The flat, lifeless environments.

WTF The fuzzball that launched a thousand robots.

What won’t people do for a super-cute pet? The primal love humans feel for adorable doggos and kittens is a near-universal trait, so if a developer wants to motivate players with as little fuss as possible, an easy way to do it is to have an alien kick down a wall and snatch the cutest cat in the world.

The kitten in question is a white fluffball named ‘Chubbs’, and it serves as the object of desire of both its owner, Karen, and Ann, a lonely alien looking for some judgement-free snuggles. Ann has an army of robot monsters in her corner, while Karen is extremely adept at punching and kicking machines into submission. It’s up to the player to guide Karen through 20 levels in a quest to ensure that Chubbs ends up back in her arms!

Gameplay-wise, Super Crush KO is 2D Devil May Cry. It’s not subtle about its inspiration, with game flow built entirely around building and keeping combos going as long as possible. Karen can punch and kick enemies, dodge through attacks with a move that also cancels projectiles, leap across the screen with special diving strikes, and use a machinegun to interrupt attacks and keep combos going. It’s not a stretch to describe it as playing exactly like DMC, just in 2D.

That simplification is Super Crush KO‘s greatest strength. There are no elaborate combos to learn or weapons to toggle between — just simple directional attacks. As long as players can remember that down means ‘create a shockwave‘ and up means ‘launch enemies into the air‘, they’ll be stringing massive combos together in no time flat.

Airborne special moves and Karen’s machinegun even lock onto enemies, ensuring that she’ll never waste precious energy whiffing attacks. Not that special move energy is particularly rare, though — it scatters out of enemies in clusters every time they’re hit. As long as the player keeps landing punches, they’ll always have enough energy to keep a combo going. It’s an elegantly produced loop that works well.

Enemies scale extremely well. Super Crush KO starts out with Karen facing off against robot dogs, later adds in a projectile thrower, and after that comes a larger quadruped with an uninterruptible attack, and so forth. Each new foe gets a clear introduction screen where it establishes its new skill and gives the player a chance to learn how to evade or counter it before they start seeing them mixed in with other foes. By introducing foes this way, the devs build an almost perfect learning curve.

Super Crush KO‘s only real misstep are the graphics. The style is attractive enough and the simplistic style ensures that the limited animations look like a natural part of the world. The backgrounds, though, are a disappointment — they’re nothing more than flat, generic cityscapes that barely change through the entire campaign. I understand that the plot involves a trip through a single city in just one night, but given how lively the characters are, the environments should offer the same verve.

Super Crush KO is a gentle entry into the world of twitch-based combo brawling action — a safe, warm pool for people curious about the genre to dip their toes in before attempting to walk hot coals with Dante or Bayonetta. Also, and I can’t stress this enough, it has a really, really, really cute cat.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Vertex Pop. It is currently available on PC and Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 3 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E10+ and contains Fantasy Violence. The game is completely safe, for even younger kids. The violence is utterly bloodless and not traumatic in the least. If they’re old enough to grasp the mechanics, they’re probably mature enough to play the game.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: I played the majority of the game with no sound and encountered zero difficulties. All story and directions are conveyed through text, which cannot be resized. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: Yes, this game offers fully remappable controls.

Daniel Weissenberger
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