Since the days of my youth, I’ve fostered a love for side-scrolling beat-em-up games. Super Comboman is definitely one of these, ramped up to eleven and full of vibrant pop. So, what do Interabang and Adult Swim Games bring to the table in this tale of a lovable misfit named Struggles? A whole lot of action, a ton of attacks and combo abilities, and a heaping helping of brutal difficulty that’s enough to bring a nostalgic tear to the eye of anyone who, like me, grew up in the era of games refusing to hold your hand or make the path an easy one to travel, that’s what.
Our story begins as Struggles, falling behind on mortgage payments, sees an offering for a construction job with the mysterious and somewhat disorganized DoDoCo. Bolstered by dreams of his favorite comic hero, the titular Super Comboman, Struggles ventures forth to earn the pay to keep his family home by any means necessary. Equal parts runner, brawler, and puzzle game, the action takes us through Struggles’ on-the-job training and a series of tasks ranging from pipe-clearing and button-smashing to supply runs and beyond, all while facing an onslaught of violently neurotic workers.
Let’s get the record straight about one thing right now: Super Comboman is not for the weak-willed or the faint of heart. Punishing combat can easily overwhelm our in-over-his-head hero, and careful use of blocks, parries, punches, and smash attacks are required to press forward. Checkpoints throughout each level soften the blow of defeat, but losing all your lives kicks you back to the beginning again, so it’s still not an easy out. A few kinks in the combat system are still present, as well, such as stunned enemies suddenly springing up and wailing on you before you can react. While it can get frustrating, finding your groove in this game is like seeing a bald eagle soar over a rainbow while the sun sets behind it; a gorgeous, majestic thing that is unlike many other experiences.
The story leaves some to be desired, and I’d really love to see Super Comboman add in text-speed options (or text-skipping, since you’ll inevitably have to restart some levels), but these are small concerns since the majority of the game is the action. The tasks set before Struggles are varied enough to keep things interesting, and the difficulty of the combat does wonders for keeping it fresh and rewarding. The price via Steam is $14.99 — on sale for $11.99 as of this writing — which feels just right for the content and gameplay. Crisp, engaging, and full of secrets and collectibles, Super Comboman is an easy win for anyone who, like me, has a long-lasting love for the genre, or those who simply love to see it done well.
[+Fun, challenging gameplay] [+Great variety to combat and tasks] [+Bright, crisp visuals] [+Great soundtrack] [-A bit repetitive if you’re not doing well] [-Some quirks left to work out]