Alien invasions in video games can happen for any number of reasons. They love to take over Earth and subdue humanity, destroy all humans, claim the resources on Earth for themselves, but I don’t think they’ve ever sent an army of robots to our planet in order to steal a cat. That is until Vertex Pop came along and used that precise plot for its running brawler Super Crush KO.
Players take on the role of Karen as she fights against an alien robot army to get her cat Chubbz back in this side-scrolling run and gun brawler of a game. Each level has you running into an area, defeating all the enemies of that screen before moving onto the next. At first you’ll start with the basic punch attack, but Karen soon picks up a gun and special moves that have her dashing around scenes quickly in an effort to dodge attacks, hit enemies, and get those scores up.
Once you have Karen’s full set of moves, the combat is very satisfying. Moves like Twister Drill have you spinning through groups of enemies, while Air Pop sees Karen fly through the air and pushing enemies off the ground. Those were my personal favourites, but she’s also got a mean Uppercut Slice to knock enemies into the air, and the Ground Shake to interrupt their attacks. Chaining all of them together with dodging and gunning is definitely required if you want to be hitting the high scores.
Your score at the end of each level is reminiscent of Japanese action games. It’s affected by your variety of moves, how quickly you got through a stage, how many hits you took, and how many continues were used, giving you a rating from D up to S. Super Crush KO is quite easy to get the hang of and jumping from a D or a C rank is not that difficult, but you’ll have your work cut out to get to an S rank.
The gameplay is really smooth and while some sections can be overwhelming at first due to the sheer amount of enemies on screen, you’ll feel like a hero as you dodge incoming attacks and take out groups of enemies at once. There are different types of enemies, from the four legged big cat styled machines that will pounce on you, to some that will fire at you and others that will roll or leave traps for you to avoid. Vertex Pop introduces new enemy types at a regular pace, but not so quickly that you haven’t got used to the enemies that came before. Right up until the end, bigger and more dangerous versions of enemies will appear, keeping things nice and fresh fresh. It is only really the boss battles which feel similar to one another, despite changes in their attacks.
Super Crush KO doesn’t just stand out for its slick gameplay, it also looks great. The environments pop with the pastel colour palette that shifts as you progress through the game. The whole thing is easy on the eyes and the contrast between the environment and the enemies in the chunky art style allows you to easily work out what is happening on screen.
There are 20 levels altogether, each taking 5-10 minutes depending on player skill and how difficult the level is. It’s not the longest game to dash through, but with level scores that you can submit to a global leaderboard, there’s plenty of replay value as you try to better your times and get to the top of the boards.