When it comes to transferring games to iOS devices, certain genres are easy, benefiting hugely from the ability to tap the screen in order to perform certain moves. Other games are much more difficult, leading potential players to wonder just how well a game could possibly play with no real frame of reference other than the its genre. The common brawler – something that many people believe (often correctly) requires the use of a controller – is one of those genres that I thought would never work on touch devices, especially something as small as an iPod Touch. That was until I got my hands on Combo Crew from The Game Bakers: the still-young developers have managed to find a way to get brawlers on the iOS device to not only work, but to actually be fun, too. No small feat, I assure you.
There are two main game modes in Combo Crew, “King of the Tower” and “Combo Crew” mode. The former is a level-based mode where you have to fight your way to the top of a tower in order to face The Boss. Along the way you’ll have to take on a seemingly endless amount of standard goons, along with a couple of mini-bosses who get in the way. Once each level is completed, you’re given a score and awarded a gold, silver or bronze medal. If the gold is achieved, you will also receive a game controller which serves as in-game currency and can be used to purchase more characters and even more combos – something you’ll need to do if you intend on reaching the top of the tower and taking down The Boss.
The latter mode, the titular Combo Crew, is another wave-based tower, although there’s no end to it and it isn’t stage-based. Instead, you’re tasked with fighting your way through waves and waves of enemies to see how far you can get in a single life. If you have friends who are also playing the game, you can ask them to “rescue” you, which will send them an invitation and ask them to fight in your name, with the damage they mete out converted into health to keep you alive a little longer. In Combo Crew Mode there are also mini-tasks to complete in order to unlock new combos and gain additional game controller currencies. These don’t have to be completed, but seeing as unlocking and purchasing combos is pretty much the name of the game, completing these mini-tasks is a great way to get where you need to be.
When the game first starts, you’ll only have two characters to choose from, Parker and Gina, each having their own limited combo move list. As previously mentioned, more combos can be unlocked by either completing stages in the King of the Tower Mode or by managing to get further into the Combo Crew Mode. Once they’ve been unlocked, the combos need to be purchased and then, if you want them in your move list, assigned to a position. You can only have four combos in your move list at any one time, so choosing wisely is imperative. Along with the initial two characters, there are also an additional two to unlock – Dolph and Sammo – who can be unlocked using a modest amount of the game controller currency; however, you’ll have to decide if you want to spend that currency on unlocking more characters or just unlocking the combo moves for the characters you already have. The choice is down to you, and can be rather difficult at times.
Controlling the game takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you’ve gotten the hang of swiping across enemies to attack them, holding down your finger to charge an attack, and swiping two fingers across the screen in order to perform one of the character’s four combos, you’ll be playing the game like a pro and feeling great while you’re doing it. The animation throughout the game is also solid, with the combos in particular delivering a visual feast. I found myself wanting to do more and more combos not because they would do more damage to the plethora of enemies, but because Parker – the character I chose to play as – looked amazing as he performed them.
VERDICT: Combo Crew is a gorgeous-looking game with a core mechanic that is difficult to master but entirely satisfying once you do. The visuals are impressive and the social connectivity will keep you coming back for more time and time again. The biggest downside is that it can get a little bit repetitive once you’ve risen through the tower a couple of times. A break can alleviate any of these feelings quickly enough, but the game does start to feel as though its dragging a little if played for longer than half an hour at a time. Still, it’s worth a download. and if you were on the fence about it after hearing that it’s an iOS brawler then, believe me, you’ve never played anything quite like Combo Crew.
VERY GOOD. An 8/10 is only awarded to a game we consider truly worthy of your hard-earned cash. This game is only held back by a smattering of minor or middling issues and comes highly recommended.