If you, like me, grew up digesting the Power Rangers on TV at dinner time then there is a high chance you’ll enjoy the turn based action RPG, Chroma Squad. In it, you take control of four stunt actors who are working on show that is essentially a rip-off of Power Rangers. Unsatisfied with their working conditions, they open their own studio to make their own Power Rangers inspired show and each level of the game thereafter consists of you filming an episode of their action TV series.
You have an audience meter that determines your revenue from each episode, which is boosted by doing extravagant power moves, acrobatics or teamwork. By following the Director’s instructions, which are challenges assigned to each episode, you can boost your audience meter greatly. Once you have a high enough audience meter you can transform into your Chroma suits in a cheesy fashion, unlocking all of your purchased abilities for the remainder of the episode.
From small beginnings, your crew first fight a man called the Boxing Box – a stuntman wearing a cardboard box and boxing gloves because you don’t have the budget for proper villain suits yet – to having mech fights every other episode when your show takes off. However, the plot takes a turn when it starts becoming apparent that not all of the things you are fighting are men in costumes… Some of them are actually aliens with ambitions to take over the Earth. Thusly, your ragtag crew of Power Rangers knock-offs will eventually become the real thing by the climax of the game.
It’s a simplistic game that never runs on for longer than it needs to and doesn’t feel the need to pad itself. Each act of the game is split into seasons of the show you are filming, so the structure keeps you engaged as each season unlocks new items for you to buy and craft with your increasing budget. However, I might argue that the game is perhaps too simple as the game becomes less appealing on multiple playthroughs. It’s the type of game where once you’ve seen it, there’s no reason to play it again. The game’s combat, which is the focus of the gameplay, is quick and fluid (despite being turn based) so that the pace doesn’t let up. But it’s also lacking in any depth beyond assigning new abilities to your team and deciding when the right time to use your finishing move will be. It’s as bare bones as turn based gets. That ssid, playing on a higher difficulty can alleviate this as the choices you make in combat begin yo matter more and have consequence.
Admittedly I did have mild fun repeating the first season two or three times using different actors in different roles to what I previously had (yes, you get to choose your cast and crew), but even so it’s a quick thing to adjust to and doesn’t offer too much replayability even if you have to learn how to make the most of your new crew.
Alas, I shan’t sit here complaining about replayability for too long because the truth is that my first wide-eyed impression of the game carried me throughout my initial run and never seemed to go away. The quirky writing and sense of humour does a surprising amount of work for the story since it refuses to take itself seriously, and thus you never feel the need to overthink anything. The game just wants you to have a good time and will even allow it’s quirkiness to feed into the gameplay once and a while – such as one episode where the actor’s suits are in the laundry and thus they cannot transform, or the one where one of the cast has a dentist appointment and you’re left a man down in battle. Occasionally you have guests who helps the team in battle, some of whom are good aliens trying to save the Earth from a real threat, whom your crew just assume are really enthusiastic fans looking to get the camera’s attention.
The game also looks beautiful with it’s charming pixilated art style, sprites and animations. The soundtrack is also perfectly fitting, and something I found myself humming away to even after stepping away from my computer. What’s more is that the game comes with an editor that allows you to make your own episodes for different seasons of the show, so you can indulge in your weirdest ideas. On the Steam Workshop, there was one notable creation I remember that revolved around you fighting the popular British children’s character Barney the Dinosaur. So, basically, go nuts!
For what it’s worth, Chroma Squad is a good time. It’s not especially ambitious and sometimes leans into it’s simplicity a little too much, but I nevertheless had a very engaging playthrough of it as I enjoyed the casual gameplay and lighthearted writing. For fans of this kind of game or, indeed, the Power Rangers, I’d highly recommend it. Getting to name your own team and the catchphrases they use in combat is the cherry on top of it all; having your entire team proclaim “murder is sometimes justified” on TV as they all slam down upon a boss enemy during their finishing animation is just fantastic!