When a video game developer has a name like Studio Evil, you’d expect to see them release some dark and grisly game that’ll have you on the edge of your seat in fear, right? Well, it’s turns out that’s completely wrong – what they’ve actually created is a wonderfully silly action-RPG named Super Cane Magic ZERO, and it’s easily one of the strangest games I’ve ever played. Fortunately, I’m a fan of strange in my video games, though the fact that Super Cane Magic ZERO also just so happens to be a lot of fun to play is pretty good too.
So it’s a little difficult to explain what exactly is going on in Super Cane Magic ZERO’s narrative. Basically, a wizard dies and his special magical dog goes out of control, threatening all those who inhabit the world of WOTF with their demise. It’s up to you to stop him and maybe, just maybe, save the poor canine from his evil ways in the process. Told you it was strange, right?
The whole tale is anarchic throughout and ALMOST makes no sense at all, but that’s what makes it so fun. We don’t all want to be saving some princess or stopping some silver haired nasty dude with a giant sword in our RPGs, right? Super Cane Magic ZERO isn’t the sort of game you should go into expecting some deep narrative, but rather one that’ll make you laugh with its silly writing and over-the-top scenarios. Of course, if you’re not a fan of the utterly bizarre then this adventure might not be for you, but if you can embrace the silliness then you’re sure to have a smile on your face throughout.
You’ll adventure as one of four classes: the Baker, the Plumber, the Candy-Healer-Wizard, or the Influencer. They’re not your conventional choice of RPG classes, but that’s something we’ve come to expect from Super Cane Magic ZERO by now. Each does have their own stats and special ability though, so there’s a clear distinction with whichever one you choose to play as. Once you’ve started your journey you’ll complete plenty of absurd quests, meet a ton of quirky characters, and uncover loads of zany sights as you collect loot and beat up baddies on your hack-and-slash adventure.
Talking about hacking-and-slashing, you’ve got a decent selection of weapons to use in the game, with both short and long range options available. However, whilst Super Cane Magic ZERO might take an action-RPG approach, it feels more like a twin-stick action title at times with its combat. You’ll move around with the left stick and aim with the right, whether that’s shooting, aiming something to throw, or directing a sword attack at an enemy. It’s a system that can admittedly take some getting used to and it doesn’t always compliment the style of the game, but it starts to get a bit more intuitive once you get used to it or find the weaponry that suits your playstyle. I don’t want to go into detail with the weapons since they’re so novel in design, but you can expect to use the likes of a carrot gun and a banana boomerang to go along with your more ‘ordinary’ (and I use that term loosely) range of RPG weapons.
Super Cane Magic ZERO also allows you to throw whatever you find around too, so you can always launch some inanimate object in the path of your enemy. Or you can eat it – I mean, why waste a nutritious rock, right? One of the things that the game encourages the player to do is eat the items around them, with each one providing different boosts that can be stacked to make your character more powerful. It might mean increased strength, more health, stronger abilities and so on, so it’s definitely worth playing around with. However, if you stack too many abilities or burp in-game (it happens) you’ll lose the boosts you’ve got enabled, so you can’t be too gluttonous in your approach. It’s a system that perfectly suits the quirky nature of the game and adds something unique to the experience, even if it does encourage you to eat some VERY strange things…
Given that Super Cane Magic ZERO is an RPG, you can expect to level your character up during the journey too. As you progress and vanquish bosses, you’re able to improve your stats and unlock new abilities. Whilst a lot of these are combat-based, you’ll also get the chance to give yourself more environmental-based skills that’ll help you get around easier too. Super Cane Magic ZERO is a fast and frantic game after all, so sometimes being able to slip out of a tricky situation is more important than being able to pack a punch. Admittedly, the levelling up system isn’t as deep as those I’ve found in other titles in the genre, but I really did feel like I had the chance to sculpt my own unique character when compared to my co-op allies.
You didn’t expect to go on your adventure in Super Cane Magic ZERO alone, did you? Up to four-players are able to play together in local co-op, with the gameplay adjusting itself to ensure that the challenge is upped to make up for the additional team members you’ve got helping you. I’ve always been a fan of multiplayer in my action-RPGs anyway, but Super Cane Magic ZERO is so light-hearted and fun that you’ll be enjoying the absurdity of it all as much as you are the dishing out of beatings on your foes. It’s just a jolly good time, whilst the inclusion of arenas where you can battle it out between yourselves gives you the chance to clear the air if you think one player isn’t pulling their weight. Friendship sure is brutal…
One thing that’ll stand out to anyone who plays Super Cane Magic ZERO is its doodle-like visual style, with the characters and world looking like something you’d have drawn on the back pages of your school books in your younger years. I mean that as a compliment, of course, with the creativity on show throughout simply proving to be second to none as far as utter absurdity is concerned (another compliment). It’s just a very unique looking game, but it’s also very pretty and eye-catching in its design.
So I’ve had a lot of nice things to say about Super Cane Magic ZERO, but it did have some issues that stood out. I noticed some minor frame rate drops during the game’s busier sequences that were full of attacks and enemies for example, whilst the load times could be a pain too – neither are massive issues, but were noticeable nonetheless. Then there’s the fact that Super Cane Magic ZERO just doesn’t seem as special when playing alone. It’s clear that it was designed to be played with friends, with single player feeling like it progressed at a slower pace and the combat feeling less hectic and fun. It’s not bad by any means, but it’s hard to play solo after experiencing the adventure with three friends.
Super Cane Magic ZERO is a silly and fun action-RPG that doesn’t take itself seriously as far as its story and world are concerned, but feels so fine-tuned from a gameplay perspective that it’s hard not to have a good time. Your choice of weapons are wacky and weird, the world itself is full of strange yet delightful sights, whilst the quirky tale that’s being told will keep you baffled (but in a satisfying way). It just feels good to play.
It does have some flaws though, with some long loading times and the sometimes awkward aiming mechanics standing out the most. It loses a lot of its character when played solo too, with the experience slowing down a fair bit and not feeling as wacky. Still, there’re definitely more pros than cons here in Studio Evil’s delightful adventure – all you’ll need is three extra players to join you on the journey and you’re in for a very good time.
Developer: Studio Evil
Publisher: Studio Evil
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PC