This time, two years ago, I stood with seven other people at an EGX while we played Killer Queen Black. I wasn’t that interested at first, but the Nintendo rep was being particularly pleasant, and I was too polite to say ‘no’. I’m glad I didn’t turn them down, because I’ve been gagging for more ever since.
Killer Queen Black is possibly one of the bizarrest concepts for a game that I’ve come across in a while. You and up to three mates team up to fight another team of four in what can only be described as A Bug’s Life: Fight for the Colony: the Game. It’s an epic action platformer with multiple win conditions that will have you thinking on the fly and working with your team to secure victory.
One of your team plays the titular Queen while the others play the part of Drones. The Drones’ job is to run around the level and collect berries and then toss them into your Hive. If you do this twelve times, you will win via an Economic victory. Alternatively you can go for a Snail win, hopping onto the snail sat in the middle of the screen, minding its own business, and then slowly racing to the finish line.
The final victory type is the Military win, which is initially only viable through Queen on Queen combat to start with. The Queen has three lives though, and once they are all gone, you lose. Drones can take berries to various machines scattered around the map and upgrade themselves into Soldiers, enabling them to get involved with the Queen slaughtering.
With so many victory conditions and so little space to play in, the game can get very chaotic, very quickly. You need to decide quickly what strategy you are going to go for, but also be open to changing on the fly. It can be all over very quickly if you stall, so it’s as much a game of reaction as it is planning.
It’s this pace that makes Killer Queen Black an excellent party game. The sheer frantic nature of what’s going on will have you laughing and crying as you fight for hive supremacy. Aside from being a party game, Killer Queen Black also has the potential for some pretty high skilled bouts, making a competitive scene feel completely viable. It’s something you may spend your first twenty or so matches absolutely sucking at, but then, something will click and all of a sudden, you’re a bug god… if such a thing exists.
Not that I care about being good. I do like having fun though, and the right game can make you feel good, win or lose. Killer Queen Black does a very good job of that with bouts not only being fun, but quick; it’s never long before you are onto the next one. Any game that makes time pass quickly is doing something right, especially if it leaves you longing for more.
The very fact that I was able to stand with a bunch of strangers for an hour without even realising it is a testimony to that.
If any of this confuses you, there’s a handy tutorial available which will teach you everything before you get stuck in. For even more tutorialised shenanigans, you can actually just sit and watch others play if you feel like you want to pick up some tips and tricks. Finally, there are three variations of online: Unranked and Ranked, which let you hop in games solo or with your friends against other teams, and a Custom Match mode where you can create private games for you and up to seven others. Or, just bots if you fancy.
One massive plus I will give Killer Queen Black, is the fact that it has cross-platform multiplayer with PC and Switch meaning the pool of players will be expansive – it’s also coming to Xbox One and Xbox Game Pass later this year, which should help further. I do, however, think Killer Queen Black works best as a Switch game, which feels like a natural home for it. It’s something you can turn on for five minutes, have a quick game before hitting the sleep button and coming back to it later.