Chroma Squad Alpha: A Tokusatsu Fan Perspective
Originally published for Herotaku Media.

After 21 years of Power Rangers and 38 years of Sentai, one would expect a legitimate gaming experience where players can create and customize their own teams, but of course there hasn’t been. It wasnt until Behold Studios stormed Kickstarter with their ambitious Sentai-themed tactics game Chroma Squad that we finally have the chance to create and beef up our own Ranger teams. Herotaku has access to the demo, and here is a review from a toku fan’s perspective:

At first glance, one would guess this is a tactical RPG starring a Sentai-esque team.

The twist on the concept however is that players don’t control a squadron of spandex-clad youths tasked with saving the world, they control the actors playing said characters in a green screen studio. If this sounds off-putting for toku fans looking for an authentic Sentai adventure, don’t fret. Once an episode begins “filming,” the actors are transported to the in-show location to battle colorful monsters and henchmen.

So how does the experience stack up for tokusatsu fans?

Behold Studios’ love for the toku genre is evident from the moment the game starts. The game makes it clear that the television show’s sets are made from glue and cardboard, and upgrading costume pieces is done by acquiring duct tape and craft glue. It’s great to see a tribute to the genre that embraces its low budget aesthetic instead of trying to pretty it up into a shiny reboot. On the surface the game is billed as a tribute to Rangers and Sentai, but the team customization mechanic also includes a few nods to Kamen Rider.

 

Speaking of what is arguably the main attraction, team customization is limited at first, only giving you choice of actor, character name, and ranger color, but as your studio earns more cash, you gain the cutomization you wanted and soon you’ll be on your way to creating your ranger dream team. Since this article was written about a demo, however, it’s entirely possible there is a wider range of costume pieces and weapons waiting in the final product. Which is great, because my Gurren Lagann team isn’t going to build itself.

I also saw nothing in the game that hinted at mecha customization outside of the machine taking on the chosen colors of your team. Perhaps that’s a feature merely absent from the demo, but if it is indeed not present, that will take the player out of control of half of the visual fun of Sentai. If this is not a feature present in the final release, it will be a huge disappointment, but not enough to ruin the game.

Chroma Squad looks to be off to a promising start, if not just because it’s giving Sentai and Rangers the video game treatment their parent studios have failed to do for the last two decades. Keep an eye out for it, toku fans, because the experience looks like it will be worth the money.

Chroma Squad is tentatively set for a Summer 2014 release on Windows, Mac, and Linux.