Ever slip on a shoe and feel something there, perhaps by your heel or even by your toes? You try your best to ignore it at first but over time, that little something becomes all you can think about. So you rip off your shoe, wiggle it to dislodge what it was that was bugging you, and out pops a shinny quarter. That is what Combo Crew, the latest iOS/Android offering from indie developer The Game Bakers, is for me: something that was a bit bothersome at first and wanting nothing to do with, but was a pleasant surprise and hoped for a whole lot more of it.
Combo Crew is a refreshing mash of several genre both old and new, taking the classic brawler/beat'em up formula and combining it with a social gaming aspect. While most social games are forgettable, Combo Crew does things right and, as it turns out, is a complete joy to play.
Right off the bat, Combo Crew offers two modes to choose from: King of Tower, which is the main attraction, and an endless wave mode pitting you against other players' high scores. In King of Tower you climb level by level to the top of the massive structure using one of three characters. Whether you select the best gamer in the world Parker, the fighting champion Gina, or the action star Dolph, you are guaranteed a good time. Each level has several stages and set goals to accomplish. Sometimes you'll be asked to achieve a 50-Hit combo, and others would be to reverse a few hits. Whatever the task may be, doing it is a charming affair. Beating the crap out of the game's baddies nets you gold medals, you can use those sparkling trinkets to purchase new combos. You have a total of four slots to fill and finding just the right combinations is a neat addition.
So how exactly do you beat up the bad guys? Combat in Combo Crew is all done with the swipe of a finger. Much like Infinity Blade, you use finger swipes to attack, but instead of just one attack, you can use two fingers to perform combos, or hold down to charge-up your attack. An upward swipe can juggle and enemy and a two-fingered swipe downwards executes a special attack. Combo Crew also appears to have been inspired by Rocksteady's pair of Batman titles when it comes to reversals. Where attacking enemies have a “!” above their heads, tapping the screen anywhere at that precise moment will counter the move. Piecing all of these together creates a very fun, smooth gameplay. It also doesn't hurt that Combo Crew sets the stage with some pretty humorous moments from the very opening credits.
From a technical perspective, Combo Crew runs incredibly smooth. The animations are expertly handled and fun to watch. Each finger swipe is responsive and rewarding. I played on my iPad 3 and never experienced any slow down or choppiness. The developers over at The Game Bakers really know how to take a simple concept and get the most out of it on the portable platform.
As for the game's social aspect, I unfortunately I was unable to use it as I couldn't connect to Facebook to play with friends; they didn’t have access to the game yet. But now that the game has been released, I am excited to compare high scores my fellow Crew-ers cross iPhone/iPad and Android devices.
Combo Crew is fun. While it does have the social gaming staples that you come to expect such as buying power-ups and unlockables, it does NOT, however, detract from the fact that you found a nice shiny quarter in your shoe.
Fun Factor: There is no denying that the gameplay is simple, but it sure is fun and immersive. If you like beat ‘em ups, and have a few minutes to spare on the commute to work, Combo Crew is an entertaining blast and a worthy distraction.
Length: I had about 8 hours of play into Combo Crew and barely scratched the surface. I suspect it to become a permanent inclusion in my library of time killers.
Difficulty: As long as you have good timing you should have no problem with Combo Crew's slightly challenging gameplay.
On the Negative Side: The caveats of social gaming and micro-transactions may hinder the experience for some.
Bang for Your Buck: I cannot help but smile every time I start playing. So, for the asking price of 1.99, yeah – totally worth the happiness it yields.