Published on September 16th, 2013 | by Kristian Ivanov0
Combo Crew Review
Have you ever wondered why there are next to no brawler games on Android? There is a reason for it – on screen controls just don’t work out so well. It’s a game genre that requires good and responsive controls, while also providing you a clear view of all your surroundings and enemies. The Game Bakers probably saw that problem and came up with a pretty neat solution to it.
Combo Crew is an arena-brawler with a swipe control scheme. Instead of tapping buttons, you perform swipes on the screen, which result in attacks, combo-sequences, charged attacks or counter-attacks. This creates a fluid combat system which both is easy to learn and hard to master. The exact way the done it is:
- Single finger swipe – a simple punch or kick
- Two finger swipe – a pre-selected combo attack
- Single finger swipe while holding your finger at the end – a guard-breaker (called “charged attack”)
- Single finger swipe up while the enemy is in the air – uppercut punch
Those controls result in a simple and enjoyable fighting system, where you’ll never have elements on the UI (user interface / menu) or your own fingers constantly blocking parts of the screen like in other games. In addition to that, the counter-attack system is also very well thought out – when an enemy is about to attack you, you will see a “!” above his head. Once you see it, you’ll have to tap on the enemy and if you did it fast enough, you’ll perform a counter-attack. That’s as far as it goes control-wise.
The main objective of the game is quite simple – you’re dropped in an arena, with waves of enemies dropping in and your objective being to beat them all with as high score as possible. You get score-points by hitting enemies. Each sequential hit builds up a combo-chain, which increases the number of points you get per hit, so the higher combo-chain you get – the more points you’ll get aswell. This will also build up a super-attack bar which allows you to perform an unblockable series of hits on all enemies and get the really high scores. But you should be careful who and how you attack, since if you get hit, you’ll lose your combo-chain and with it your super-attack bar progress. If you manage to beat a level without getting hit once, you’ll also earn a “Perfect Combo” bonus.
Additionally, some stages will require you to complete an optional objective, which will reward you with a nice unlockable combo-move for one of the characters. These objectives vary between “get a perfect combo bonus”, “counter 5 opponents”, “use a super-attack” etc. which adds a nice variety and pretty good challenge for completionists.
As you might expect, the game offers pretty much no storyline…you just want to reach the final level. It’s meant to be just a simple fun experience, rewarding you with just customization and unlockables. To start the game, you’re given three out of six characters, one of the remaining three you’ll have to purchase with an IAP, while the other two you can just unlock by playing the game. The characters are as follows:
- Parker – a cat-looking guy. He has quite the selection of combo-moves, most of them with high number of hits in them.
- Gina – just your average girl with long hair…which she uses a lot in her combos.
- Lester (from the game Another World) – he seems interesting, but to my surprise, he has a very low number of combo-moves…I personally believe it’s the lowest amount out of all characters in the game.
- Dolph (unlockable) – the big-buffed guy in the group. I haven’t unlocked him yet so can’t comment much more.
- Sammo (unlockable) – a very…interesting looking character. I haven’t unlocked him either.
- Viewtiful Joe (from the Viewtiful Joe game series, IAP character) – if you’ve played any of the games he’s in, you already know why he’s so fitting in this game. It’ll cost you $2 to obtain him.
There is no real difference in the characters in terms of health points, attack power etc. as far as I can tell. The developers instead made their combo-moves different, which results in some characters having long combos of weak hits, while others have short but strong ones. One thing I should point out is that the combo-moves are pre-defined and you can’t customize them to your liking, which is a shame, because I can see some really awesome possibilities with a system that will allow you to do that.
As you progress in the game, you’ll collect coins and gamepads (yes you heard right!), which are used to unlock new combo-moves, perks, consumable power-ups and character skins. Here I would like to mention that the game is highly stylized in terms of its presentation – everything has a very well made cartoony look, mixed with a great arcade’y feel. This is also present in the unlockables I mentioned above. Here is a short example of what you can buy: lunch boxes, champagne, dice, red chilli, piggy bank, energy drink, french fries etc…it’s a pretty big and neat list. The character skins are also quite cool, with some of them being particularly awesome…personally I hope to see the list grow with future updates.
The only downside to the game’s design would be its soundtrack. It’s not that it’s bad, but there seems to be just one single song for all stages. A variety of three or four distinct tracks would’ve been very much welcome. This doesn’t include the sound effects though, they seem to be just fine and sound well even without headphones.
Here is where I have very mixed feelings. The game is not free as you might expect, but it also features minor IAPs. I’ll go ahead and say right now the way they made the IAP system is just fine, nothing is ever forced on you and everything (with the exception being Viewtiful Joe) can be unlocked in the game itself without spending any additional money. So what’s bad about the IAPs then? It’s actually the price. Viewtiful Joe is a new character with a list of combos, so $2 for him seems just fine. Unlocking all levels for $1 – just fine aswell…$4 for all skins and $4 for all combos – that’s a bit too much if you ask me…if it was $1 or $2 for each, yeah, that sounds pretty good for people that just want quick fun but can’t spare time to really progress in the game, but for $4 for each, that’s how much it’ll cost to buy another high-quality game on Google Play these days.
If you like brawler games, this one is a must-try. It’s easily the best game of this genre I’ve played on a mobile device to date. It offers you a great mix of customization, fluid combat system and simplistic fun that is well worth it’s price money. The developers also showed their interest in keeping the game going by adding not only new game content but also something which (at least I) was requested – an in-game exit button. This shows me they listen to their fans and are willing to provide more as long as we back them up. The only downsides to it are the lack of a co-op mode and the ability to make your own combo-moves, but who knows, maybe those will be in Combo Crew 2? With that said, this game gets my recommendation to any mobile-game fan.
Summary: Combo Crew is an arena-brawler with simplistic gameplay, great controls and fluid combat system that will keep you well entertained for a few minutes or a couple of hours while waiting at the bus stop or on your lunch break.