I love beat-em ups and Adult Swim – I used to spend hours of my youth playing flash games on their website. So when I heard that Adult Swim Games made a legit beat-em up, the question wasn’t whether or not I would play it, but rather when would I have time to.
The recently released (11/07/14) Super Comboman by Adult Swim Games looks and sounds like everything you want in a game from just the right company to do it. I had extremely high expectations for this title and was ready to devote several hours to playing it. So believe me when I say I was very surprised to be so disappointed by a game because of its lacking in probably the most important aspect of game development. I’m not saying it’s a horrible game all around, but you’ll definitely want to read this before buying, because chances are you will also be disappointed before you’ve finished the 2nd chapter.
Usually I don’t start with gameplay, but rather put it second after graphics. In this case I chose to begin with it because while there are arguments about just how much gameplay should factor into the final judgement of a game overall, it’s often the most important detail when choosing to purchase a game for a majority of gamers.
In Super Comboman, the gameplay is so bad that while everything else about the game is good, which is why I gave it as high of a score as I did, I still can’t endorse the purchase of this game because it’s so severely lacking in this area.
Beat-em ups aren’t hard to do as far as gameplay. Especially the 2D ones. There’s a long history of these titles that should help developers understand exactly how games in this genre should be. While Adult Swim Games started with a formula that appears very similar on the surface, they went about the finer details all wrong. At first glance it’s your basic spamming combat game with heavy attacks, special moves, power ups, and varying enemies. But when you dig deeper you quickly notice the flaws.
The first thing I’d say about the gameplay is that you will probably want to use a gamepad, because to play effectively requires a lot of buttons and button combinations for special moves. This can definitely be done with a keyboard and the keys are mapable, but the gamepad is still superior. Sadly though, remapping the gamepad was such a hassle as for the longest time the game wouldn’t accept my remap. It did eventually, but that didn’t improve the experience by much.
You start out with a basic attack and a smash attack along with the ability to jump and attack with either type in midair. The smash attack is way more effective than your basic attack, but it can’t be spammed. You have to wait until your smash meter refills, which does happen fast but not fast enough for the amount of enemies that will be thrown at you. The smash attack is necessary since it pushes enemies back, which is important when you get sandwiched, and this will happen a lot.
The special additional attacks you can buy from the store with collected coins cost way too much and can be hard to use because they require lower level Street Fighter style commands which often don’t work properly and are too complicated to deal with in some of the more difficult battles, thus leaving you to spam your basic attack and use your smash whenever you can and hope for the best.
Sadly, this game is one of the worst I’ve ever played when it comes to combos which is so ironic that I won’t even take the time to make a proper joke. To build combos you have to land another hit in a set amount of time regardless of whether or not you take damage between hits, which you most certainly will because someone in the development team decided it was a good idea to let enemies be able to damage you while you’re already damaging them. I don’t mean that other enemies can damage you while you’re damaging an enemy. I mean that while you are punching an enemy it can also punch you thus making you never safe from taking damage no matter how much you excel at the combat system. So it’s actually impossible to get the really clean huge combos that you would expect in a beat-em up.
. . . it’s actually impossible to get really clean huge combos . . .
The gameplay is extremely laggy and glitchy both between scenes and during fights. You are constantly dealing with latency issues which shouldn’t come as a surprise after you’ve seen how long it takes to even load a level. Transitions between areas and from stages to cutscenes are atrocious because of all the constant black screen pauses and breaks.
No it’s not your computer. It’s the game and there’s nothing you can do about it. The shield is the best example of this. It either doesn’t work all the time or it can’t be used while already in the midst of attacking consecutively. In either case you won’t be using it much because you won’t be able to in any practical way. And the wall jump is ridiculous too.
This extremely flawed gameplay system is also riddled with huge leaps in difficulty. The first level will present you with no problems at all. The second will be your first taste of what the combat expectations really are, but you’ll beat it no problem. This ends the first chapter and any sense of balance the game has.
The first level of the second chapter is worlds harder for no explainable reason and chances are you won’t have gained enough coins by then to buy any useful special moves or perks. Thankfully you can go back and play older levels over to amass coins so if you have the patience you can build your way to a more balanced experience, but for that to be necessary so early on should clue you in on how bad things will actually get.
Basically the gameplay is horrible. Not needs improving. Not contains some flaws. It’s just horrible. Without a doubt the gameplay is the worst aspect of this game. If you continue reading you will find that all the other key aspects (writing, sound, graphics, replay value) are pretty good if not near great. But the struggle to enjoy those things with such a flawed experience of actually playing the game may cause you to just give up, which I ultimately did. I’m sad to say that I couldn’t bring myself to actually finish the game.
Without a doubt the gameplay is the worst aspect of this game.
The graphics in Super Comboman are great. It looks exactly the way I would want to see a 2D side scrolling game by Adult Swim. It’s one part comic book, one part flash game, and a splash of 90’s cartoons all rolled up into one beautiful experience. It’s basically all layered flat images, most of which are outlined in white, but it does not disappoint. I’ll admit that the edges of some things look a little fuzzy at times, but only if you’re really looking closely, which you won’t be in most cases because you’re too busy trying to survive.
The mixture of many colours and simple textures creates a sunny atmosphere that only a fat man in a Hawaiian shirt can appropriately star in, and it just so happens that the playable character is just that. The text is a very nice block lettering that comes in a number of different colours and blends that is easy to read but never annoying or overly distracting.
The HUD is done in the classic flash game style with information scattered around the edges of the screen, but does not interfere with gameplay. You get the essentials, namely number of lives, amount of health, coins collected, time played in stage, max combo, perks, and special attack. Number of hits and special occurrences appear more towards the middle of the screen and can cause a slight distraction while playing, but no more than is common in most games in the genre.
There are a number of different types of enemies rendered including bosses, but many of them are renditions of the same or similar enemies with basic aesthetic changes such as colour of clothing or type of weapon. I also appreciated the fact that each enemy has a hovering life bar.
There are 2 different types of scenes. At the end of certain levels there are short comics that contain a few still images that convey just a little information. These don’t occur too often. It’s basically just when you defeat bosses. But the real visual achievement in this game are the cutscenes. They consist of beautiful animated sequences of decent length that look good enough to be a TV show.
Their true effectiveness comes from the fact that they have no actual dialogue. Sound effects and contextually justified text is the only way that characters communicate in these sequences. Sadly there aren’t nearly enough of them because I greatly enjoyed watching the cutscenes more than anything else in the game. All in all the graphics receive an A- in my book.
The real visual achievement in this game are the cutscenes.
The sound quality in Super Comboman is quite good. It’s clean and varied in both music and effects. Sadly you have no control over the levels. You can choose to turn off the music or the sound effects separately, but there is no volume mixing. I think it’s quite balanced though. The gameplay sound effects are good. You don’t have walking sounds, but attacks, taking damage, jumping, and basically all other occurrences have appropriate and balanced sounds.
The gameplay music is really well done too. The music varies from stage to stage and the tracks are very nice. It’s high energy, fun music, but not over the top. It doesn’t feel like simple repetitive loops of tracks like the music in many other games. While the price is a bit high at $20, you can actually buy the soundtrack from Amazon.
Just like the graphics, the sound in the cutscenes is very impressive. Sound effects and music are used in place of dialogue so they play a large factor in telling the story, and they don’t disappoint. Again I’d say it’s done at TV level. As with the graphics and writing, I’d have to give the sound in this game high marks.
As you would expect, the writing is hilarious. If you’re looking for a serious plot with amazing character development and sound occurrences then read no more because this is certainly not the game for you. But if you want a story that’s worth caring about while making little to no sense and having the funniest, most oblivious protagonist ever then look no further. Adult Swim clearly wrote this game and they put in the same amount of nonchalant distaste for reality that they always do. And it’s great!
The writing is hilarious.
The story follows the character Struggles (Struggy) on an adventure to save his brother, Biscuit, by getting a job at a construction site in order to pay their rent so they don’t lose their house. With his trusty talking fanny pack, Flapper, and the inspiration and constant hallucinations of his favourite comic book super hero, for which the game is titled, he sets out to save the day. It’s as good a plot as any when you’re really there for the gameplay and laughs. The adventure comes from the fact that the construction workers seem to be attacking you for some reason, even while offering you a job.
The text box conversations are reminiscent of Family Guy in the fact that everyone around the main character seems to be trying to have a serious conversation, but Struggy just doesn’t seem to get it. He’s constantly thinking about copying his favourite hero and eating. Often characters threaten him throughout the game and he just thanks them, thinking they are offering to help him train in order to get more “combos.” I won’t give away the ending or tell you that it’s that surprising or good. But you will absolutely enjoy the dialogue and the overall plot experience.
As with most beat-em ups, there’s a ton of replay value. There are a number of different perks and techniques you can buy or choose not to buy which will definitely change your gameplay experience. Each level gives you a bronze, silver, or gold rating so unless you get all golds on the first try, you’ll probably want to replay a few levels and try to get faster completion times, better combos, and higher total scores. While there are no leaderboards, there are plenty of reasons for you to replay at least parts of Super Comboman if you get all the way through it the first time. There’s also a large number of stickers hidden throughout the game to be collected and later viewed in a gallery.
At base value there’s probably a good 6 hours’ worth of levels in this game. But that’s assuming you beat every level on the first try. It’s more than likely that you will get a game-over several times and struggle through the later stages because of the gameplay issues and the huge leaps in difficulty. So it’s quite possible that you’ll get some 10 plus hours in your first playthrough. While I think $15 is high considering the gameplay issues, $10 would be an excellent deal. If you really want to try it, I’d wait for the Steam sale, again because of the flawed gameplay mechanics.
It was really hard for me to rate Super Comboman, because it’s one of those rare games where the gameplay is bad but everything else is good. Usually it’s the gameplay that’s good and other things are bad, thus making it at least slightly forgiveable.
I didn’t want my final score to downplay the quite excellent graphics, sound effects & music, and writing, but at the same time I don’t want to leave you thinking that you should buy it only to then rage quit because you just can’t stand the combat issues. So I’ll say that while my score may be higher than other reviews have given it, note that it’s for all of the other equally weighted parts of the game which are really good and not me endorsing the gameplay, because I am absolutely not doing that. If I could have my way, Super Comboman would be redone as an animated film by the same team, because you will surely enjoy watching it even while you loathe playing it.
If you are still interested in buying this game you can find it on Steam for a high $14.99.
- TV worthy graphics.
- Good music.
- Hilarious writing.
- So much glitching and lag.
- Faulty combat system.
- Unnecessarily high jumps in difficulty.
OS: Windows XP SP2 or higher
Processor: 1.80GHz Processor
Graphics: Video card with 512MB of VRAM
Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
Processor: 1.80GHz Processor
Graphics: Video card with 512MB of VRAM
Hard Drive: 3 GB available space