When I was younger, I loved Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I watched it every week, collected all the toys, and watched the movie. I loved it so much that even kept watching after Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, all the way up to Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescure in 2000. I’m not as big of a fan as I used to be, but the series has recently seen a huge resurgence of popularity and there are even plans to bring it back to theaters somewhere down the line.
It seems like the time was right then for a game to hit the market and while there have been numerous games based on the Power Rangers franchise, it’s been a while since we’ve seen one that was good. Thankfully though, a studio from Brazil had a bright idea. What if they could create their own game and pay tribute to both Super Sentai and Tokusatsu as a genre? That studio was Behold Studios and that’s exactly what they did after taking to Kickstarter where the game called Chroma Squad was successfully funded.
Fast forward a couple years and the game is finally complete and available for purchase on Steam. I decided that I should probably check it out. I might not keep up with it nowadays but I still have a nostalgic love for Power Rangers. I also have a love for tactical RPGs. And since the whole premise of Chroma Squad is essentially putting the two together, I figured that would make it a candidate for something I’d thoroughly enjoy.
As soon as I got into the game and heard the music on the main menu, I knew I wasn’t wrong. Chroma Squad had already managed to impress me before I even started the game by presenting me with a great bit of music that as you might imagine is highly influenced by one of their main sources of inspiration, Super Sentai. Of course there’s a lot more to a game than the music. But if nothing else, Chroma Squad had already proven memorable by having such a great theme song.
Once you start the game, you’re dropped into a tutorial on television set with a director yelling orders into your ear as you control several actors. The tutorial teaches you the basics while introducing you to the fact that you’re a group of actors. You see, Chroma Squad isn’t about a team of people fighting aliens to protect the Earth. It’s about a group of actors that branch off to create their own production company, and it’s wonderful.
Your goal in the story is to further the reach of your show. You do this by recording episodes to gain income and fans, but before you get to that there’s a lot of work. You’re not just making a television show, you’re also managing one. In that respect, Chroma Squad is more of a Super Sentai simulator, and that is not a bad thing. Over the course of the game you’ll check your e-mails, upgrade the set, and improve the costumes of your actors through crafting and the store.
You start getting more e-mails as you progress through the game, and most of the e-mails come with choices to make. These choices don’t necessarily affect the outcome of the story, but they do branch out and occasionally reward you with items, money, or fans. It’s a nice touch, and along with the fake tweets you get at the end of every episode, it really drives the point of simulation. You are the director, and you’re making a show.
Of course, before you do all of that, you have to pick your team. I ran with a lot of the settings on default to save time and because I’m not very creative, but the game has a high degree of customization options. You can choose your squad, you can choose your colors, you can even choose everything about your studio and show. Want to change your team’s name and motto to match that of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers? Well, you can, and it’s pretty damn cool.
Each squad has five roles, and you can pick from a number of characters to fill each role. Each character has different stats depending on how you want to play, which means that right off the bat there’s already a lot of replayability. Unfortunately though, you can’t change your squad once you’ve started the game. In my eyes, that wasn’t a con so much as it was a reason to do another playthrough, and there seem to be plenty, including multiple endings depending on the choice you make.
Once you’re done with all of that, you can get into recording episodes. Episodes are where the actual game takes place, and where you’ll be making use of your actors to fight tactical turn-based battles. There isn’t a whole lot of depth involved with the combat, but to me, that didn’t matter much. Each class has their own abilities and weapons they can use, but beyond that, there isn’t much else to learn. Some might consider the combat rather simplified, but I think in this particular case it comes across as more streamlined, and that’s definitely a good thing.
The fights aren’t cluttered with menus, it’s just move and use your abilities as well as the mechanics of the game, which actually lend themselves well to the theme. Outside of abilities, there are acrobatic moves, team attacks and morphing which the game refers to as chromatizing. Acrobatic moves work by placing your characters around the map and clicking the teamwork button, which will then open up additional movement by having that character throw your other squad members around.
This can be particularly useful for fights where the boss runs away or when you need a lot of mobility, but I didn’t get much use out of it during my playthrough except for when it was necessary to complete the optional objectives from the director. Team attacks and chromatizing got a lot of use, though, since they’re both vital to completing episodes and defeating bosses. The team attacks use the teamwork button to have several of your characters attack an enemy, and when you combine all five members of your squad you can do a finisher on the boss which you’ll get a lot of use out of since it’s usually faster than just whittling down the rest of their health.
You’ll find yourself chromatizing in just about every battle, since it’s pretty much a necessity. When you chromatize, you’re effectively morphing, which means you get a power boost and it’s the only way that squad members can use their abilities. If you want to keep your squad alive, you’ll need to have your healer watching their health. That’s pretty much all there is to the fights, but just because a game has simple mechanics doesn’t mean that it’s simple, and that really applies here.
Some segments are difficult than others, but there were plenty of times when I had trouble, which means that at least in my opinion, the game isn’t a breeze. I spent my first playthrough on normal difficulty, but if you think it’s too easy you can start higher or lower if it’s too hard. You can’t change the difficulty once you start, though, so if you’re going to change your mind you’ll probably want to do it quick to save yourself the trouble.
Each mission is different, but for most missions you’re going to be fighting minions that ultimately lead to a boss. Once you beat the boss, the enemy gets big and you get in your mecha, just like an episode of Super Sentai. The mecha fights are pretty exciting at first, but as you do more of them, you quickly begin to realize that they’re just not that difficult. During my playthrough, I didn’t lose a single mecha fight except for at the end when it’s absolutely necessary.
When you do somehow manage to lose a mecha fight, you’re just brought back to life by your fans. If you haven’t defeated your enemy by that point, you probably will be able to afterwards. As much as I enjoyed the mecha fights, the lack of challenge begins to give way to monotony and repetition. Sure, they’re fun, but for the most part you’re just doing the same thing over and over, and beyond attack animations the fights aren’t very different.
It still makes you feel like you’re fighting in a giant robot, and it can be fun, but I would have liked to see a little bit more challenge and variety in the fights. You already beat the boss originally, sure, but it leaves the mecha segments feeling unsatisfying by comparison. I spent an hour trying to beat one of the bosses before fighting them in my mecha which ended much, much quicker. It’s been a while since I actually watch Power Rangers, so it might actually be that way, but if it is, I just don’t feel like it translates well to the gameplay.
For the most part though, Chroma Squad is fun to play. It’s fun to manage your manage your production company, it’s fun to fight bad guys, and it’s fun to experience the story which is charming and really well written. You’ll encounter references to Super Sentai, Power Rangers, Tokusatsu, and a whole lot more. The gameplay is pretty good, but I think if there’s one area in which Chroma Squad shines in particular, it’s the music and the writing.
There’s a whole lot of love and a whole lot of personality, and if you like any of the things I talked about in this review, then you’re sure to love this. I’ve only completed my first playthrough, but I’m sure to complete more. Chroma Squad is a game that I can see myself coming back to every now and then for a good nostalgic fix.
Developer: Behold Studios
Publisher: Behold Studios
Release Date: 4/30/15
- Simple but fun tactical combat
- Fantastic music
- Great replayability
- Excellent length, I clocked in at around 15 hours on my first playthrough
- An interesting story with great writing
- Mecha battles lack challenge and variety
Disclaimer: A copy of Chroma Squad was provided to BentoByte by the publisher for the purpose of review.Tweet