When a game has a title like ‘Super Awesome RPG’ then it’s already setting certain expectations. You’re looking for a game that’s self aware, fast paced and possibly a little bit 90s, but more importantly it’s a statement that needs to be lived up to. Is Super Awesome RPG super awesome?
Developed by BoomZap Entertainment as a followup title to their previous Social RPG, titled ‘Super Awesome Quest’, and released in both full paid app and ‘lite’ variety that maintains many of the Social RPG features of the original, Super Awesome RPG features a gameplay style that is hard to label. The developers refer to it as a Tactical RPG (and we’ve labelled it as such for the purposes of this review) but many will glance at screenshots and think of it as a Puzzle based RPG. After some considerable time with the premium edition of the game we can defiantly attest that it’s not either, but it’s not exactly a traditional JRPG either. Super Awesome RPG is very much its own game.
Graphically the game employs a western take on manga styled art, the kind seen a lot in the early 2000s and late 90s as Japanese comics and anime began to flood into the west and local artists attempted to ape the style. It’s well drawn and has the ‘radical’ effect that I believe the developers were going for, and is applied to character sprites (2D HD assets) monsters and larger illustrations. Sprites are made up of several pieces, allowing for the player to swap out gear and have it immediately make a visible change to your character, which is excellent, but does sometimes lend an Adobe Flash-like quality to animations. The backgrounds used are drawn to a much higher and more detailed standard and are superb, with small elements of animation thrown in for good measure and visual effects overlaid to add depth. It’s all rather generic 90s anime fair visually, with a fantasy world that jumbles lots of popular concepts together and somehow manages to get punk rock in the mix too. Icons laid out for the player are well spaced and clear in their use, though the neon, glowing look does clash slightly with the other art assets.
Musically the game fairs far worse. There are very few tracks included with this title and those that are there often have to take up double duty, which means that the title screen also serves as the overworld, etc. This wouldn’t be so bad if they lasted longer before stopping and beginning again, with the length of some tracks being extremely short and no effort made to seamlessly loop them. Sound effects are passable but uninspired and lack the ‘awesome’ edge that the visuals and faux-rock music imply, making some actions in battle feel underwhelming.
Super Awesome RPG does feature a narrative of sorts, but really likes to focus on setting each of its three main characters (one of whom you select at the start of the game and the rest you gather later) off on a journey that throws things at the player as you go along. The Valkyrie for example is on a mission to find Odin’s lost spear, which she’s misplaced and won’t be allowed back into Valhalla without. From there she meets up with the games Witch and Warrior and the trio encounter things as dangerous as a Liche King, to a group of Zombies singing Rick Roll at you. There’s a good sense of humor on display throughout but the story never builds in intensity, making the game more of a casual experience than an epic adventure.
Gameplay is largely based around combat, with the player travelling across a number of different territories unlocking routes on a pathway in somewhat linear order toward an end-boss that unlocks the next island for your airship to explore. Each battle can be won once to continue, or five times to attain a bronze, ten for a silver or fifteen for a gold ranking, each coming with their own rewards and scaling in challenge as you progress. Outside of battle there’s little else to do but craft and equip gear or single use potions that add temporary stat boosts for the duration of a battle. The game retains many Social RPG features of its predecessor and if you’re playing the lite version of the game has its own energy bar to stop you playing too much in one go, even using a ‘friends’ system for item sharing, though both are completely redundant if you’re playing the premium version which doesn’t require an internet connection to play and removes all such restrictions. Rewards are dolled out daily for ‘logging in’ to the game, and can be handy for grinding your way out of a tight spot. Each of the three characters have their own equipment and weapons with no crossover, excluding the ‘pets’ which can be equipped anyone and act as your only ally in combat. Combat itself is the games real draw and where it stands out. Your character faces a series of monsters, some grouped others in waves, who each attack him/her after a set number of moves. Your actions as the player are laid out on a grid below that dominates the bottom half of the screen. Unlike a match 3, this is a randomizing factor that follows no strict logic and serves to limit your actions based on what icons are currently visible at any time. Each icon directly corresponds to one on a piece of gear you’ve equipped and when touched flips the surrounding tiles face up, vanishes and triggers that attack. In this manner you move across a grid, selecting the best attacks for the challenge and occasionally resetting it entirely. Tiles revealed of the same kind will link, making for powerful combos if they are next to each-other, and some moves have rules such as ‘healing equal to the number of unflipped tiles’ to take into account. For the most part it works well, and feels like a highly randomized method of playing through traditional turn based combat in a JRPG, but you can see how the decision making process here saw them label it as Tactical. There is a high element of luck involved however, and this can make or break some battles, leading to annoying periods where none of your tiles being flipped are the right element to deal damage or there’s no option to heal.
Overall, Super Awesome RPG is worth a purchase and play if you’re looking for a fast paced title that you can dip in and out of whilst on the move, but isn’t the kind of game you’re going to want to dig into over longer sessions. There’s little plot to hold onto and the games music can be extremely annoying, but it’s got a measure of fun and a combat system that rockets along at a fast pace. Purchase the premium edition to see the title at its best, or test out if you want to buy it with its freemium counterpart.