Kickstarter is a site that represents the realm of possibilities. It is a place where those who have an idea, a project they want to make and achieve, can showcase its potential and others can help to donate and fund its realization. Now, the initial rush and wonder of Kickstarter has faded a bit, as reality sets in with those whose projects don’t quite reach the dreams they pitched or those who never even bring their work to fruition. It is frustrating, especially because there are those whose ideas might not have otherwise gone noticed without the help of a site like Kickstarter and such failures make people more reluctant to help fund such ideas. This entry isn’t about the numerous failures. Instead, it is a look at one such project that came to be and proved to be worth its pitch. That project is a video game called Chroma Squad.
Chroma Squad tells the tale of a group of stunt actors (whom you name) who work on a Power Rangers/Super Sentai-esque series. Tired of the constant berating and arrogance of their director, they quit and go off to form their own indie studio and make their own Power Rangers-esque program. Gameplay is divided into two portions. One half is a tactical turn-based action game, as you play out the battles being filmed for this action series. These portions have your five main characters (each of whom fills a different niche in your team) acting out their roles as costumes heroes, battling generic minions and colorful monsters while using the power of team work to more effectively move and fight. These portions also have director’s orders, which are bonus goals that can help to net you more viewers and cash. The other half of the game is a simulation game, set between “episodes” as you deal with all the work that goes into running your indie studio. This includes such things as crafting props and costumes, upgrading your studio’s tech, and even handling marketing.
Both portions of the game make for a fun whole, with each showcasing the strengths of their respective halves. The first portion, with its turn-based combat, captures the feel of fights from shows like Power Rangers. Moving around the board, you can easily use simple combat to take down the goons and monsters that threaten your team. However, you can choose to instead offer boosts with the power of team work, putting on a striking pose that can unlock special moves or flip teammates to move them further across the map. You can even have all five teammates strike a pose next to the boss, allowing you to pull off the sort of powerful team attack that would be saved for the last five minutes of a Power Rangers episode. Along with giant robot battles that appear from time to time, the result is something that captures the fun of Super Sentai combat with a nice dose of strategy.
The other portion, with running this indie studio, also offers its own challenges. The two main keys to this portion are managing the funds you have along with trying to net in more viewers to help keep the show alive (and get you more money in your budget). The result means that you are forced to make choices for how to want to advance your studio and keep it going. For example, one of the issues that can come into play is marketing. You are offered a variety of ways that you can use to get the word out about your show. You could, for instance, offer some funding to bloggers to help spread the word. It is cheaper, but you’ll have to heavily depend upon word of mouth from your fans to get new viewers rolling in. Another option might be to turn to a classic marketing campaign, which provides television ads and billboards. The result means you’re guaranteed new viewers rolling in, but it also takes more money from your budget and locks you into a contract for three to five episodes. That means you have to earn that extra money if you want to ensure those new viewers. Having to make choices like these, or even when doing stuff like crafting new props and answering fan letters, not only helps to offer a new dimension to the gameplay beyond the turn-based combat, but also affects those turn-based portions in terms of viewer numbers, stats, and personal abilities.
Now, both portions of this game could have made fine games on their own. I could see someone making a fun turn-based action game that recalls the nostalgic thrill of Power Rangers, and I could see a good game to be made from the trials and challenges of managing an independent production studio. However, combining both ideas into one game results in a work where they compliment and enhance each other, with the turn-based portions showcasing the work that these stunt actors want to do, while the simulation portion shows the work that has to go into making this thing that they love. The result is a game that probably would not have been an easy sell to big-name studios, but thanks to an outlet like Kickstarter, it found the support it needed and became a reality. Games like this help to show the world all the wonderful ideas that lay waiting and dormant, dreamt by those who wish to make them real. All they need is the support to help them flourish.
If you want to give Chroma Squad a try and get a taste of the “tactical sentai RPG” it offers, it is currently available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. There are, at the time of this post, plans to bring it to Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, and Xbox One.