Anthony "Tony" Magestro--or known on the field of battle as Metzge--is an avid writer, gamer, and entrepreneur. When he's not writing, gaming, or entrepreneuring, he enjoys cooking, trippy movies, and trying to be awesome to varying degrees of success. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn page, especially if you need freelance help with content writing or digital marketing. Or just like to network, that's fine too.
After enough grief from their director, five talented stunt actors decide to take matters into their own hands, starting their own studio and action-packed TV show. Where Millennials like myself had the Power Rangers back in the ’90s, Behold Studios gives us Chroma Squad, a tactical RPG where you control this quintet of do-gooders in their rise to glory–or at least television fame.
Packed with a ton of tongue-in-cheek, fourth-wall-breaking humor and its obvious impersonation of Power Rangers, Chroma Squad is all about nostalgia in its style and delivery. With its pixelated sprites and loading screens that “warm up” and adjust like an old tube television when you’re starting a new episode, this is the kind of game that would go great with pajamas and a bowl of cereal on a Saturday morning.
Though it might seem playful on its exterior, Chroma Squad is still pretty well written, having multiple storylines: primarily, the cast trying to bring their start-up studio to fame and glory; and secondarily, their fictional personas doing battle against evil. Reality and make-believe are at constant odds, as the cast’s worst rivals masquerade as villains in their show, not to mention the hapless randoms who decide to interfere with the live recordings.
Speaking of cast, choose anyone from Jet Li to Scarlett Johansson to fight for you, bringing their own unique skills to the table (I’d attempt to name more, but there’s really just so many).
Despite your team’s costumes being made out of cardboard, duct tape, and whatever else you can find lying around, combat is fast, action-packed, and varied with a number of fun, challenging scenarios. Each episode has optional objectives too that boost your audience and fanbase (which later translates to ad money which you can spend on upgrades for your studio and paying your cast).
Much like XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the combat is turn-based with two primary moves per character. That is, you can move and attack or move twice–you get two actions. Get me?
But, much like XCOM, a few dumb moves and you’re on a one way ticket to the intensive care unit. Plus, if you’re not careful, you’ll quickly find yourself outgunned and underfunded as enemies continue to become more and more challenging, even if you don’t spend your money wisely on upgrades and gear.
Sure, it’s all funny jokes and pop culture references one minute, but don’t let that distract you or let you underestimate your enemy. Luckily, if one pair of fists isn’t enough, adjacent squad members can offer to use teamwork and attack simultaneously. You can even do awesome finishing moves when all your squad gangs up on one baddie in particular.
Each character has their own special abilities based on role (Leader, Scout, Assault, Tech, and Support/Medic) and weapon. Wield swords, bats, warhammers, SMGs, pistols, spears, bows, and all sorts of other assorted implements of justice-dispensary upon every brand of evil there is, which, more often than not, seem to be various urban wildlife such as (albeit mutant) squirrels and pigeons.
As you beat up those extras (I mean really, there’s no such thing as mutant squirrels or pigeons.. just guys in suits), you accumulate random item drops that you can later use in crafting new equipment. If the going’s slow and your enemies aren’t carrying much of worth, you can always recycle old gear by breaking it down or buying material packs with that sweet, sweet ad money.
Crafting isn’t necessarily as easy as x part + y part = z super awesome battle armor; there are a lot of random elements added to the process, giving ranges of probability rather than exact outcomes. For example, while buying a material pack, they might be for five Level 1 quality items, but of any combination. Another example is when making custom weapons or armor, they’re also given random special effects, like extra health or increased critical damage.
That ad money I was talking about earlier can also be reinvested in things like marketing (which allows you to unlock various combat and economic boosts during episodes) and studio upgrades, further enhancing your team’s influence, both on the field, and in the homes of their most avid viewers.
I got to hand it to Behold for not only namely themselves appropriately, but making such an awesome game! Chroma Squad is definitely a title worth owning, not just if you’re some ’90s kid schmuck like me, but a fan of refined strategy, a great sense of humor, and an appetite for justice only a team of spandex-laden twentysomethings can deliver.