- Developer: Studio Evil
- Publisher: Intragames
- Release Date: 09/05/2019
- Review code provided by: Intragames
Dropping the Gauntlet
What do you get when you cross video games and comics? Well, you might end up with something completely weird like a comedy action RPG with a large handcrafted world to explore and the task to eliminate all vegetables to free a dog in the end. If this already sounds strange to you, read on, it’s only getting more confusing as this review (and the game it focuses on) progresses. And yes, I will keep this spoiler-free. At least, I’ll try to.
Simone “Sio” Albrigi, an Italian comics creator, got together with Studio Evil to create what I loosely refer to as Diablo on LSD or: Super Cane Magic ZERO. Please already note that cane in this game is not meant to refer to any kind of walking stick, but rather to a dog as in canine. This should not surprise you, as the game centres around the fact that the death of its master forced magic abilities on a dog by the name of AHHH! which in turn resulted in wreaking the world of WOTF. So, in classic action RPG manner, your job is to save the world by clearing story and subquests.
After waking up in a crater and subsequently getting arrested, your first task is to escape from prison. This is your tutorial quest in which you get to know all the important controls. You move around with the left stick while aiming is done with the right one. Lifting stuff off the ground is done by R, your special abilities are triggered with ZR and ZL. Jumping is on B and interacting with NPCs is done by A. So far, so good. If you’re not used to twin-stick shooters, however, you’ll find out that aiming is tricky and needs getting used to. In more than one occasion I’ve managed to miss my target both with ranged and melee weapons resulting in a rather untimely death. If you manage to survive in the harsh world of WOTF, you’ll solve quest after quest and clear your path through story and WOTF.
Let’s digress into game modes at this point. There is a story mode for 1 to 4 players in couch co-op. Yeah, nothing beats beating a story together with your friends. If that is not to your liking, you can also roughen up your friends in an arena brawl. Again, this multiplayer mode is couch co-op, too. Both are simple: you select your character and character class and off you go.
Depending on your choice, your spread of stats (health, mana, attack, ego and throw) is as different as are your special abilities. The baker class, for example, features a bacon explosion that will burn the ground and harm your enemies. But that is not all! In the course of the game you will earn belief points which you can use to upgrade your abilities in various ridiculous, but nevertheless powerful, skill trees. You are playing an RPG, after all.
Lights, camera, comics!
If you haven’t paid attention or simply overlooked it, Super Cane Magic ZERO is the brainchild of a comic artist. This does not only show in the writing of the magical adventure, but also in the graphical style. It’s clear-cut. It’s colourful. It’s just like a funny comic. Everything is animated beautifully and the art fits the premise of the story just right. Or perhaps the other way around. Anyway, it is a delightful sight to traverse the world of WOTF and slaughter enemies.
However, the soundtrack does not come close to the art. It’s an upbeat chiptune soundtrack that’s quite nice, but quickly overstays its welcome and gets boring and slightly annoying after a while. Luckily there’s the option to reduce its volume.
It’s not all cheesecake, I’m afraid
Apart from the music, there is only one caveat: The loading times can be quite long. There are special screens filled with funny quotes and graphics to make the wait interesting, but the jokes get stale after a few screens. Other than that, there were no problems during my play both docked and handheld. I noticed a short slowdown in handheld mode when a lot of enemies were present, but it didn’t happen often and wasn’t any hindrance. What bugged me a bit is the fact that you can’t change the controls. I’d really like to remap some of the buttons because I keep pressing the wrong ones during fights. But that may well be my stupidity.
Who’s a good boy? Yeah, who’s a good boy?
This is a difficult decision to make. On the one hand, we have an action RPG with an interesting twist, art style and writing. The core mechanics are done well. There are stats, items, skill trees and everything else an RPG connoisseur could possibly want. You can modify your character to your liking and playstyle.
On the other hand, there is the writing of the game itself. It is meant to be a comic game. The writing is whacky, subversive and sometimes alternates between outright strange and primary school humour. I like that a lot. But you might not, even if the mechanics of Super Cane Magic ZERO appeal to you.
- The fact that you are what you eat. Everything that can be picked up can be eaten as well. Eat something good -> extra health. Eat something bad -> boom, you explode. What’s good for you and what’s not depends on your character.
- The writing. It’s standard RPG tropes and makes fun of them at the same time.
- Solid mechanics.
- The loading times are a bit too long.
- Some of the jokes.
- The controls can’t be changed.
Playing this game solo is nice, but tackling it together with friends will even be better. Just be sure to have a bit of humour or this game will be a drag for you.