I’m sure that just about everybody has seen the Power Rangers in some shape or form. Whilst I grew up with the original ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ in the 90s, there’ve been plenty of different varieties of the show released to ensure that they remain as relevant as ever nearly thirty years on. One of the things I always remember when I was younger was coming up with my own episode ideas and wondering how I’d play things out – well, with Chroma Squad you can do that, with the Power Ranger-sim (that’s what I’m going to call it) allowing you to run your own studio and show that’s heavily inspired by Saban’s famous franchise.
Chroma Squad starts out with the heroes working for a director who has a very rude and arrogant attitude, with him demanding everyone around him to do exactly what he says and scolding them if even the slightest thing isn’t as he wants it. Well, the heroes have had enough, and they decide to quit and form their own studio. Of course, this takes more than just martial arts skills, but some knowledge as to how to run a studio and ensure that each season of the show is just as entertaining as the last. This means balancing out tactical-RPG-like combat with a bit of studio management as you look to produce a hit show that will wow audiences.
The majority of the game plays out in episodes that are spread across one of five seasons, with each episode featuring battles that see players partaking in tactical showdowns that take place in a tile-based area. You’ll control your character’s movements and positions and choose your attacks, with each character not only having different abilities at their disposal but also different strengths and weaknesses as far as their stats are concerned. Whilst you control each character individually, team-work actually has a strong emphasis in Chroma Squad with characters able to work together to unleash powerful attacks, heal each other, or even just launch each other across further distances. It’s something you’ll definitely want to take advantage of because some enemies you face in the game can be tricky to take down, with the bosses in particular requiring you to think outside of the box to find ways to defeat them whilst evading their more powerful and longer-ranged attacks.
One thing about combat that I think Power Ranger fans will particularly appreciate is the Megazord-like sections – the mech transformation that sees you take control of a giant robot to battle enemies that have grown bigger than skyscrapers. It’s a brilliant little throwback to what was often the most exciting part of the Power Rangers TV show, so seeing it here definitely brought a smile to my face. Admittedly, these combat instances are kept simple with the player simply choosing to attack, defend, and then time some button-presses, but it’s a creative and fun climax to the battles you find yourself in.
During each battle you’re given optional goals to complete that will improve your rating with audiences. It’s all well and good beating up the bad guys, but you might have to find yourself beating them up quickly, through team-attacks, or by just being stylish if you really want to keep your viewers happy. These optional objectives are made clear throughout, so you can ensure the strategy you utilise in battle adheres to it from the get go – it’s not essential, but if you want to earn the cash to have the best studio in Chroma Squad it’s something you’ll really have to keep on top of.
Studio management plays as big a role as battling in Chroma Squad, with the player able to invest the cash they earn into things like customising the heroes, crafting new items, upgrading studio facilities, advertising and so on. You’ll also get to make some important decisions or even interact with others via e-mail, which adds a personal (and often humorous) touch to proceedings. It blends together nicely with the combat instances and really makes it feel like you’re actually working on a show, albeit in a much simpler format.
It follows a rinse-and-repeat pattern as you juggle everything together and it can make for an addictively fun process. However, repetition can kick in as you progress further, especially as far as combat is concerned with some episodes not feeling a whole lot different to others. Whilst you’ll still have different objectives to work towards, there’s a sense of familiarity to be felt as the process of completing them becomes more of a formality. Fortunately, there are enough moments of satisfaction littered in-between it all for it to never grow boring, whilst those who really find themselves invested in Chroma Squad will be glad to see there are multiple-endings as well as a ‘New Game Plus’ to come back to. Those who’re more used to a bit more depth in their tactical-combat might be done after just one playthrough, though.
Chroma Squad offers a satisfying tactical experience that blends together the fun of the Power Rangers with some enjoyable management aspects – it’s a combination that sounds slightly peculiar, but actually makes for a fun time.
It can be guilty of being a little bit repetitive in places and it’s lacking the depth seen in similar titles in the genre, but fortunately there’s enough excitement to be found throughout Chroma Squad that you’ll easily find yourself hooked in until you reach the final season’s big finale.
Developer: Behold Studios
Publisher: Plug In Digital
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC