Not every strategy-RPG has to feature a winding tale of politics, war and intrigue, y’know. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the good ones have done that and made it work – Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy Tactics are basically the top of the heap in this genre. Still, more comedic series like Disgaea have made the SRPG work, and in Chroma Squad we’ve got another example of a humorous take on tactics that throws in a little bit of sim for flavoring.
Nobody ever said showbiz was easy! It’s especially difficult when you’re trying to make it in the cutthroat world of super sentai shows – if you’re not familiar with the term, think Power Rangers. Dressing up in spandex and bashing actors in rubber suits day in and day out would be hard enough without having a nasty director breathing down your neck. When push comes to shove, the rag-tag group of actors that serve as the heroes of Chroma Squad decide they can do just as well by putting together their own studio, so they do exactly that.
Of course, there’s more to running your own studio than just busting out the rubber suits and getting to work. Being your own boss means managing everything about that studio, from the settings to the props. The majority of your decisions affect both your studio’s and actors’ appearance and stats, so there’s a gameplay element involved in deciding how to gussy everything up. As you progress, you’ll be able to afford nicer-looking and more powerful accoutrements.
When the rubber meets the road, though, super sentai is all about beating up monsters. You’ll do that too, of course. You’ve got a cast of five rangers chosen from a variety of actors, each of whom has their own specialty and enhances their role in a certain way. Your martial artist might be great at taking out baddies in a realistic and painful manner, but without the teen starlet bringing in viewers he might as well just be hitting punching bags by himself. You can even choose your team’s catchphrases for when they morph–er, “chromatize” or summon their giant robot. Go nuts.
Lights, camera, action – episodes are recorded in strategy-RPG fashion, pitting your actors against a bunch of baddies and bosses. Actors have a variety of skills and weapons to choose from, including both ranged and melee combat options, but like any classic super sentai show the real power comes from teamwork. Careful arrangement of your characters allows them to join together for huge, massively damaging combo attacks; performing these is central to both destroying bosses and earning tons of viewers. Combat never becomes especially difficult, but combined with the studio sim portions it’s certainly interesting enough to work.
This is one of them “indie games” you might have heard of lately, which means it’s got pixel art and it was crowdfunded. The pixel art actually isn’t all that bad; it works without being an eyesore, and there’s something to be said for some of the hilarious monster designs. As for the crowdfunding, the most obvious Kickstarter residue shows up in the form of backers as actors you can hire for your team. You don’t have to use them, fortunately, and their stats aren’t especially amazing compared to the other options. Sound effects and music are par for the course, meanwhile, so they won’t necessarily stick with you but they work for what they are.
If you’re out for hardcore multi-layered strategizing that will require you to play maps repeatedly to make headway, Chroma Squad is probably not what you’re after. Fans of sentai shows and sims who don’t mind a little tactical combat here and there, though, are going to love this one. It’s a cute game that nails its humor and has enough variety to keep its relatively simple combat from hurting the whole package.