Super Comboman Review

Zero-to-death.

At first glance, Super Comboman looks like the kind of average action platformer that overwhelms Steam's front page. But it isn't. Rather, it's bad, and sometimes amazingly so. Nearly every success is met with an equivalent failure, and that leads to a cycle of hope and despair that perfectly encapsulates the Super Comboman experience. The art style is charming enough, as the game makes all of its characters and environments look like cute stickers, but the animations often fail to load, leading to visual clutter and confusion. Some of the music is amazing, but it wears on you when it loops every 30 seconds or so. And perhaps most damning, Super Comboman occasionally makes you feel incredibly powerful before doling out some excruciating forearm cramps.

The strange, almost dualistic nature of Super Comboman is clear from the outset. The star is Struggles, an out-of-work comic book geek desperate for some cash to help with his mortgage. To make a bit of money, he sets off with his sentient fanny pack in the hopes that he can one day learn how to fight as well as his hero, the eponymous Super Comboman. Immediately, there's an awkward clash between heavy poignancy and camp that ultimately drifts off into a nonstop barrage of groan-inducing Internet memes.

These types of vertical climbs highlight how bad Super Comboman's wall-jumping mechanics are.

After that introduction, you're thrust straight into the heat of combat and taught how to string together attacks and combo like a pro. At first, you have a few basic moves, such as light and heavy attacks. For the most part, these are functional and help you juggle foes or slam them through a brick wall, but when the action gets going, the cracks in the foundation become too big not to notice. Even under the best circumstances, you can only ever attack in one or two directions, though you often have foes attacking from several elevations in addition to being in front of or behind you. Escape is tough, because it opens you up to other attacks, which can put you in an animation cycle that ends only when you die.

Guarding can help, sometimes, but more often than not enemies just wear you down and kill you. Your only recourse is to parry attacks, which is done by tapping forward. Even that comes at a cost, namely your stamina. With most incoming attacks, a small bubble appears that alerts you to a parry, or at least that's how it's supposed to work. Sometimes there is so much happening onscreen that you just blindly tap forward so you can parry any incoming attack and avoid nasty animation locks. That's fine for a while, but it doesn't take long for that tactic to get exhausting. Add that to the constant flurry of attacks, blocks, and dashes that you perform, and on some levels, your forearms will be cramping inside of 10 minutes.

It's easy to get caught between two enemies and just...die. It's not fair, and just makes the game that much more frustrating.

If you can defeat enough foes, you steadily earn a bit of cash, which you can spend on more-advanced attacks that are supposed to help rack up damage a bit more quickly, but they're really tough to pull off thanks to input lag. Every once in a while, everything lines up just right, and you can perform really slick combos that feel amazing, but those moments are far too rare and end all too quickly. In a game like this, boss fights should be a full test of everything you've learned up to that stage--tough, but ultimately empowering. Instead, I found that the best option was simply to double-jump in, use one attack, and then jump back out before I took a hit. The bigger, fancier moves Super Comboman tries to encourage are especially risky when facing off against a particular baddy that can knock away half your health with one good shot. Ultimately, combat is far and away more aggravating than fun.

Combos also bring up a smooth-voiced announcer that says things like "Noobtastic," "Scrubtacular," and "Smizzle" when you've performed combos that exceed five, 10, and 20 hits respectively. While the exclamations warrant little more than a dry smirk the first time, given that the game is based on performing combos as many times as humanly possible, the constant audio feedback quickly becomes mind-numbingly obnoxious. It's also representative of the kind of grating humor that pervades the entire game. Some of it can be offensive, depending on your sensibilities. I recall one enemy that's meant to represent homeless men, and after he attacked by flashing his penis offscreen, I couldn't help but think Super Comboman was presenting and reinforcing some of the worst stereotypes of the homeless with a touch of snarky homophobia. That crass and sophomoric humor runs throughout and is usually a miss.

Nearly every success is met with an equivalent failure, and that leads to a cycle of hope and despair that perfectly encapsulates the Super Comboman experience.

Platforming is just as awful. Super Comboman often transitions from large open areas to cramped vertical segments. To manage the transitions, the designers opted for long vertical tubes that rely on several successful wall-jumps in quick succession. What makes that problematic, though, is that the wall-jumping here is terrible and without qualification the worst I've ever seen in any game. Wall-jumps are typically difficult maneuvers, sure, but game designers have found many ways to make them simple enough to be doable for average players. Mega Man X lets you slide gently down and jump at your leisure, while the Metroid series requires you to properly time only a few button presses and automates the rest.

Super Comboman gives you no such help. You need to jump toward a wall and then quickly switch to moving out and away. The problem here is twofold. With the game's input lag, it's almost impossible to get that timing right consistently, and without a system like that of Mega Man X, where the game gives you a larger window to make that jump, platforming comes off as ludicrously frustrating. It's made much worse in some timed segments where obstacles and enemies are placed in front of you, and failure means an instant death. That is punishingly, brutally hard for absolutely no reason. After several runs, I found no consistent pattern for what let me succeed and what caused me to fail. Sometimes the enemies would lock me in one of those animation loops and I'd be dead before I could react. At other times I seemed to do everything wrong and still make it through. With levels like this, Super Comboman made me feel like my success was arbitrary and completely divorced not only from my actual level of skill, but also from what I'd managed to learn and ultimately apply within the game.

In this screenshot, the camera is stuck above the action as a wall of insta-death blades approach. That's a recipe for guaranteed frustration.

Super Comboman is severely flawed, but buried beneath controller-snapping frustration is a game that with some control tweaks, less lag, and some bug fixes could have been enjoyable. Sadly, in addition to its numerous deficiencies, it is riddled with annoying bugs that keep the camera from focusing on you or that prevent your character sprite from loading at all, though to the developer's credit, patches have been frequent. Nonetheless, Super Comboman is still a frustrating mess that's more likely to cause wrist injuries than it is to inspire cries of platforming joy.

The Good
Charming and enjoyable for 30-second bursts
The Bad
Input lag causes a lot of unnecessary frustration
Difficulty curve is all over the place
Comedy that almost always misses the mark
Unusual control scheme isn't always intuitive and often hinders play
3
Bad
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Dan Starkey is no stranger to hard games, fighting games, or beat-'em-ups, but he could only barely make it through Super Comboman. He's glad he can finally put this cramp-inducing nightmare behind him.

Discussion

28 comments
nuclearbomb2000
nuclearbomb2000

I cant harp on these guys, they may have released a Stinker, but they sure as hell are polishing it up. That's something I rarely see these days.

chibistevo
chibistevo

The white background present in each character and item sprites makes this really unpleasant to look at. Would have been better without it, just makes it look like you're watching tacky paper cut outs.

ktseymour
ktseymour

Just the name Super Combo Man pretty much tells you this game stinks lol

What does the name even mean? Sounds like a game about some fat dude hitting up Fast Food Drive throughs all day.

aragorn_bleh
aragorn_bleh

Man this game looks great- I hope to try it someday

Being a 2D artist I'm glad to see more cartoony stuff rather than manga-japan

odolwa99
odolwa99

Good to see there'll be a follow up to correct limitations.  It'd be nice if Daniel can give a 2nd opinion at a later date.

ArchoNils2
ArchoNils2

damn I was looking forward to this game, it still looks nice. But that doesn't help when its frustrating

interabangent
interabangent

We are taking measures to balance gameplay and adjust any issues players are having of our indie brawler and want to know what you guys think. 


The first 5 people  who hit us up @interabangent gamespot on Twitter #SuperComboman will get a free Steam key for the game. We want your feedback.

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

"Super Comboman."  Hmm, excellent name, they should actually call all the 2D fighters that nowadays, such as Street Fighter, Injustice, Mortal Kombat, etc.  Now they're just combo-fest games.

Megamandrew
Megamandrew

I was hoping this would be good.  Bummer.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@thatscoop 

I suspect that you have no intention further than your ulterior motive of shilling your site.

jesot
jesot

@aragorn_bleh It reminds me of the old Technos (River City Ransom, Double Dragon) style.  I really like it.  I've watched people streaming the game, and this review doesn't really match up with what I've seen.

delboywalker
delboywalker

@interabangent @interabangent  Not sure if you have any more keys, but I have had experience on many different betas/alphas and would be happy to give you some feedback :) It's a feat to get a game completed full stop, and I think it's great that you're actively updating it!

xsonicchaos
xsonicchaos

@interabangent 

Well, at least you guys make the effort to interact with the community. From my experience, I had only 3 kinds of interactions: artificial intelligence support person (EA), disgusting arrogance (the guys who made Krater), or none (every other developer). This time I'm glad I got to meet the good side of dev interaction.

5443Thomas
5443Thomas

@interabangent based on the review, you should fix the obvious things like the technical issue, improve the controls, and add "invulnerable after getting too many hits" feature to fix the frustration of getting pinch by 2 enemies

fluffy_puppy666
fluffy_puppy666

@spacecadet25 Fk you, i love combos, you should love combos, combos are awesome, you are mad because you can't pull an ultra combo on killer instinct.

interabangent
interabangent

@Megamandrew This is ICJ from the Super Comboman development team. We fixed many of the issues that were cited in this review and are continuing to balance the combat and have another patch coming.  


Sending you a Steam key and you can try it out and give us your feedback.


Pushing the game out on the release date was beyond our control as a small indie team, but this is the era of iteration and we want to make peeps more happy with our little game. We won't be changing our sense of humor though! Blammo!



interabangent
interabangent

@xsonicchaos @interabangent We are 8 people deep and do not have a large PR firm or organization handling this for us. It is important that we talk to the people on a personal level, that way we can see what people are saying. We are just getting started. Thanks for your kind words and we look forward to interacting more with people :D

interabangent
interabangent

@5443Thomas @interabangent The input cooldown was added which was similar to an rpg. Based on feedback we decided to get rid of it and allow players to use special moves as fast as they can input them. We also changed the input deadzone so fireball motions and special moves so the motion is more fluid on the d-pad. 


In the case of being caught by multiple enemies there are a few mechanics that allow players to get out of these situations. Also some of the enemies strong attacks have armor which we reduced so you won't feel like you are stun locked. 


Thanks for the reply.

Megamandrew
Megamandrew

@interabangent @Megamandrew  Thanks a lot for the key.  I played the game and here's some things that would make the game a more enjoyable experience for me:


More responsive controls:  I feel like I need to mash the hell out of the buttons in order to do what I want.  It just feels really inaccurate to me and makes the game more tedious than it should be.


Make the dash more like a dodge roll mechanic:  I think the dash should allow you to dodge directly past enemies.  When you're surrounded it would make dealing with multiple foes considerably less cumbersome.  I would also like the option to map dash to a button, as I feel that would allow for more nimble playing.


Lives: I don't really see the need for a lives system in a game like this.  This game is long enough that it doesn't need to be artificially lengthened with a lives system.  Additionally, the checkpoints are infrequent enough that not having lives wouldn't be detrimental to the challenge.


Enemies should flinch more: When you knock enemies into the air they become open to combos, but hitting them with a regular punch doesn't really feel like it does anything.  It also makes the combat come across as sort of stiff and awkward.


Speed: Struggles should simply be able to move faster.  The speed at which he moves doesn't feel optimal for a game about keeping a combo up.


Other: The wall jumping is awkward and would feel far more natural if you didn't have to hold the jump button and pick your direction simultaneously.  Also, I ran into some crashes and long loading times.


Once again, thanks for the key.  I'll definitely try the game again after the next update.  Good luck!

xHellBoundx
xHellBoundx

@interabangent @Megamandrew Hey man, just want to say I saw the quick look on Giant Bomb and they said some nice things about your game and it seemed interesting. Keep your head up, this is just one freelance reviewer! They also enjoyed the comedy

interabangent
interabangent

@Megamandrew @interabangent Thanks for the reply and feedback! We appreciate you taking the time to try out the game and respond back. As ICJ said previous we will definitely be adjusting the game best we can on some of the community feedback. We also will be putting out tutorials to help people get how to understand the game system a bit better as we move forward with updates. Thanks again for your time!


www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVZvWzUOcGQ


Also we just released our latest patch so please be sure to check it out! 


www.steamcommunity.com/app/250280/discussions/0/35219681604951107/

interabangent
interabangent

@xHellBoundx @interabangent @Megamandrew Hey HellBound! Thanks for the positive feedback! We are an indie team doing our best to get our game out to the community and making fixes as necessary. We are in the lab making things extra crispy for the gamers and appreciate the support! Freelance reviewer, makes sense. Thanks for the heads up as well.

Super Comboman More Info

  • First Released
    • Android
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    4
    Average User RatingOut of 3 User Ratings
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    Developed by:
    , Interabang Entertainment
    Published by:
    , Adult Swim
    Genres:
    Fighting, 2D, Action
    Not yet assigned a final ESRB rating. Appears only in advertising, marketing and promotional materials related to a game that is expected to carry an ESRB rating, and should be replaced by a game's rating once it has been assigned.
    Rating Pending
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