Super Crush KO

Indie studio Vertex Pop return with their second Nintendo Switch release - a dazzling, vibrant and lively platforming brawler dubbed Super Crush KO.

If you cast your mind back to the early days of the Switch, you may remember Vertex Pop’s first Switch release — a little game called Graceful Explosion Machine. This side-scrolling shooter took a well-established arcade formula and gave it a modern, inviting overhaul. With Super Crush KO the Toronto-based studio are doing the same again, but this time for the beat-em-up brawler.

So, what’s the deal here? Well, you play as Karen (who I very much hope is named after rooftop Karen), and she’s sat chilling out with her cat Chubbz, when a mysterious cosmic figure enters your room, causes a ruckus and steals your kitty. Not cool. This simple premise sets things up — you quickly don your jacket, grab a weapon, and head out to get your cat back, saving the world in the mean time of course.

Now, I could end things there, and simply say that any game with a cute cat is worth your time. But I’ll divulge a little more, highlighting what you can expect from this feel-good caper.

The main gameplay is something of a hybrid — bringing together both beat-em-up action with run-and-gun combat. You’re tasked with taking out a spawning army of robots, chasing down the aforementioned cosmic baddy as you go. Each neon-soaked level offers a good mix of straightforward platforming sections, and intense robot brawling.

This brawling is made up of a handful of special moves that you’ll quickly add to your arsenal in the first few levels. These include a lunging attack, ground pound, and uppercut. Once you have all of these moves at your disposal, the key gameplay hook really comes into force: combo building.

Establishing a combo and keeping it going is where Super Crush KO really shines. Blending moves together and managing stamina in order to keep going are simple enough to get to grips with, offering a satisfying rhythm and loop to the gameplay — it reminded me of the excellent skateboarding combo game Olli Olli. At first your combos will feel fairly straightforward, but as you get increasingly familiar with the game and enemy movement styles you’ll figure out how to duck, dive and dodge your way to a high score to be proud of. It’s a satisfying way to blast through the 20 levels on offer — which should take you around 3-4 hours.

All of these levels have a vivid, glowing aesthetic, something that’s a real pleasing change from the usual drab shooter. However, this glaring look doesn’t alter too much throughout the play-through. In fact, this lack of variation can also be said for the enemies — a handful of new enemy types are introduced in the later levels, but for the majority of the first half you’ll be thrashing the same old clone army.

It’s clear that Vertex Pop have something of a knack for taking classic arcade play-styles and making them feel fresh and fun all over again - as Super Crush KO is just that.

Although the gameplay is a tad repetitive in places, and it's not overly oozing in visual variety, this sugary, saccharine brawler has an addicting combo building hook at its heart which many will find appealing.

With a solid, refreshing look, a zippy soundtrack and high-score chasing charm, this is a lighthearted brawler with enough warmth to impress.